I have exactly the same problem with a client and his site was also built back in 2002. I host his site and each year when I send him his bill I suggest a redesign but he is not interested. This is a website soon to be seven years old and I now find it a bit embarrassing but he seems to still be happy with it. He is a small town solicitor and when you Google "solicitor townname" he is still number one so he is quite happy.
A year or two ago I actually thought about offering to upgrade the website for nothing but he can clearly afford to pay for it and it goes against the grain.
I also thought about trying to convince him by pointing out deficiencies in browsers other than IE but the site still displays OK in them too. You may want to try looking at your client's site in Firefox, etc. and if there are any problems there point these out to him. You can say that these browsers came along after his site was developed so any problems are not your doing.
Heh, yes I feel the same. I was even thinking about removing it from my portfolio page. However, just last week I had an enquiry from an associate of this person who had seen their site and wanted something similar. I quickly replied with links to my newer work... ;)
|...and I now find it a bit embarrassing |
Absolutely! You have to pay your way too. Apart from that, other clients might find out that you did it for free and want the same.
|A year or two ago I actually thought about offering to upgrade the website for nothing but he can clearly afford to pay for it and it goes against the grain. |
This is an excellent idea - unfortunately I used tables for layout back then so it looks fine generally. I will check though. Perhaps I should check IE for Mac - I bet that would show problems, but using that browser as an example would be unethical! :)
|I also thought about trying to convince him by pointing out deficiencies in browsers other than IE but the site still displays OK in them too. You may want to try looking at your client's site in Firefox, etc. and if there are any problems there point these out to him. You can say that these browsers came along after his site was developed so any problems are not your doing. |
You have helped give me another idea though. I run his AdWords advertising so I can use the analytics data to show how the site should be restructured to get visitors to the right content.
Okay, devil's advocate here. I'm a "designer" as well, but tender my thoughts in these areas with something far more important.
Remember the prime objective: A site exists to solve visitor problems. Not make money, promote your business, or dazzle the visitor with your artistic talents, these are all outcomes of the prime objective.
So reassess these questions: does it solve his visitor's problems? Does it navigate well? Are there any areas that can improve the visitor experience besides presentation?
Don't let this bruise your ego: as "designers," we tend to have fragile ones. Many of us tend to place presentation on a far higher pedestal than it deserves, and see it as a personal affront that our visual considerations are taken lightly or tossed aside. We get defensive, or even, as you, consider disassociating ourselves with these sites based on presentation alone.
After you've had your designs slam dunked a few hundred times and your ego takes a thorough thrashing, it stops hurting and you can start to see the value in this thinking.
Want an example? Why does Craiglist work? Why does THIS site work? Both are completely or nearly devoid of graphics. How is that possible? :-)
In reality, this will free you. I have done probably thousands of sites. Many of them I consider ugly as sin. Many were developed before the year 2K, and in spite of suggestions, the clients refuse to change them. They function well and fear anything that might break whatever formula makes that work.
If you really can't get past this, address the above questions and others that deal with issues beyond presentation. Go at it in terms of functionality, changing monitor resolutions, address the issues outside of "design" that might prompt a rework.
|If you really can't get past this, address the above questions and others that deal with issues beyond presentation. |
I cannot entirely agree Bill. The website I mentioned offers legal services. It's an online brochure and it does not look good. Sure it works, and it gets found for the main search term but I am willing to bet that it does not impress prospective clients. People finding the site may call the number anyway but then again they may not.
The appearance of a website can colour people's judgement of the business as a whole and the website may be their first experience of the business. I believe that all online brochure websites should look up to date and professional. Something that looks years old is not professional.
I look back at my website design back in 2002 personal and the business I work for and can't believe were I started and were it is now.
They do need a website redesign and the way I would go about it would be to find a competitor's site that was built in the same time period if possible and see what changes have been made to their site and when you locate a good one send them the archive link. Let them play with going back in time to see what changes have been made to another site in their sector.
This will get them to looking more than anything else at the redesign since they can see how far advanced a competitor has come since 2002
Heck you paint your house every 3 years why not a site.
Sounds like need for work. Okay, make it work but don't blow smoke. The "web" is more than computers these days... includes phones and whatnot. Illustrate (prove it) that redesign to CSS whatever will solve problems now and FUTURE problems down the pike. Then go for it. Else all you have is a happy customer. Should be enough.
Did the customer say it looks bad? Or has the designer learned a few new tricks and is revisiting old projects and is a bit embarrassed in hindsight?
It is reasonable to say "Hey, Mr. Customer! Site still working okay? Great! However, things are changing all the time and..." Worst that can happen is a no thanks. Best thing is customer remembers YOU REMEMBERED and cared enough to mention it.
|It's an online brochure and... |
That actually makes my point. An online brochure is not a web site . . . and I would approach this client with ideas that make it a web site. Work your design changes into the rewrite.
Disagreement is all good, it's what makes the world diverse. :-)
We've used a clothing metaphor successfully. Something along the lines of...
you know that great outfit you had when you were six? You loved it, you wanted to sleep in it, you wore it every single day that your mom would let you. And it looked great on you. It fit well and you got lots of compliments.
Now that you're thirteen, though...
It doesn't mean it wasn't a great outfit, the perfect outfit for you when you were six, it just isn't the right outfit for a teenager.
|An online brochure is not a web site |
|An online brochure is not a web site |
I don't agree. A brochure is a site, but probably not the best one to get the job done. With so many great tools and content that can be put on the web today a brochure-ware site does seem to be a waste and "not really a site." However I have learned that this is all some companies want and even after you show them what is possible they just want a multi-page brochure.
I typed in haste; of course it's a web site in the "physical" sense; it has a URL, it has pages, it has navigation. It's just not what a web site should be.
I meant that this is the leverage you use with a stubborn customer. Compare a "brochure" against a "web site." Show all the things the site can do that a brochure, even an online brochure, cannot.
see point S . . . . [webmasterworld.com]
Perhaps it's in the definition but online brochures are my bread and butter. They can and do work for my clients and they are certainly websites under my definition.
If a service based business wants a website there is not much scope for producing anything other than an on online brochure. I have built and optimised some "online brochures" that bring in more than 50% of a company's business. Try telling the owners of these that don't have websites. ;)
|I have built and optimised some "online brochures" that bring in more than 50% of a company's business. |
Wow! Now that is a stat to be proud of. I have done a lot of sites, but I can't ever say any of my clients get anywhere near 50% of their business from it. It certainly helps, but not to that degree. What are some of your secrets?
Luck mostly and I don't always get lucky. ;)
Actually it depends on the business. If it is service that people tend to search for on the Internet then it can be done.
I have several older-looking Web 1.0 sites, but they generate a ton of traffic. I am concerned that site redesigns for the latest fashions (such as social networking) will not generate more income, and may bring the site down in terms of organic searches. Does this enter into the thinking of those who wish to redesign their own or other's sites?
|If a service based business wants a website there is not much scope for producing anything other than an on online brochure. |
I find that opinion pretty shocking, because it's terribly limiting. There is huge scope for establishing credibility with potential customers, branding, etc, dependent on a service oriented website NOT being limited to being an online brochure.
Just had this conversation with someone looking to set up a website for car detailing services, actually. An online brochure just ain't going to cut it for him, and I can't really figure how it would work for any businesses that aren't completely established in their niches.
...maybe it's just me.
2002 is almost ancient history on the Internet, you could try to make your customers aware of change, not just their site, their computers, but those of their customers/visitors of their website.
If you do that from day 1, it's much easier 7 years later to remind them: I'd like to offer my services and give your website a virtual "new layer of paint", it's currently showing it's old age and could do far better.
If possible add in things they might have liked back then but that were far beyond the status of browsers then [oops: IE6 is that old isn't it ?], or show them similar upgrades you did for other customers (before/after).
Ugly site sell and often times sell a lot. Technology has changed a lot but people change and adapt to it much more slowly.
IHMO, websites need copy "redisigns" and added functionality but many times unless the look is absolutely horrendous or the designer is extremely talented and can reskin it with a nice sleek design that does not adversely affect current business, traffic, rankings, or conversion, then the current design is usually ok.
Maybe it could use a style sheet with adjustable font sizes, an email form instead of a mailto:, a landing page to incorporate with social sites, a press release section, a newsletter, something else?
There is nothing like some analytics to back up a pitch for a new site, otherwise unless the site owner is big on getting new site designs for kicks, why would most people want one?
|The website I mentioned offers legal services. It's an online brochure and it does not look good. |
If it's legal services, I assume they are lawyers - and all lawyers I know are very good a assessing a person on a first impression and are therefore more aware of what impression they are making.
Take that angle to them. Ask them if they'd ever meet with a client wearing jeans with holes in them and a t-shirt that said "who farted?". Of course they wouldn't, they'd wear a suit. And they probably wouldn't wear a suit that is ten years old either...
Would I trust legal advice from a website that looked outdated? No.
Don't sell a redesign.
A redesign has no inherent value to the site owner.
What does the site owner want?
Sell him that.
Maybe its more clients. More leads. More loyal clients. Maybe they want to educate their clients or their potential clients.
Don't sell a redesign. Sell them what they want. (This might require finding some research, or a few simple questions.)
We are constantly doing re-designs for our clients for sites 2+ years old. The reason? Conversion. We analyse conversion rates and always patch the site to achieve optimum conversion rates. But for more.., you need a redesign.
Sell it as a way to increase sales and profits without increasing advertising budget.
Also in the last two year, screens have become larger, resolutions are different and progress has been been made with web technology and mechanims used to increase conversion , ie homepage tabs offer a great way to utilise conversion realeastate (above fold) with unique selling propositions.
|I find that opinion pretty shocking, because it's terribly limiting. There is huge scope for establishing credibility with potential customers, branding, etc, dependent on a service oriented website NOT being limited to being an online brochure. |
If my opinion is so shocking perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Can you explain what you mean by "not being limited to an online brochure"?
If a service based business does not have a product to sell online then I can see no scope for anything other than an online brochure. Just remember that some brochures are bigger and better than others. I am not talking about a trifold.
|Ugly site sell and often times sell a lot. Technology has changed a lot but people change and adapt to it much more slowly. |
Further to the above (tho not necessarily applicable to a service website), people often HATE new sites, even if they are 'better', preferring to stick with the familiar.
And I'm sure no-one here would do such a thing, but I've noticed site 'upgrades' usually means more Flash, JS and a much slower responsiveness, without any discernable value beyond being 'modern'.
And to echo previous sentiments, WebmasterWorld does fine without modern wizziness.
BeeDee & detractors- how are you defining brochures? I mean, if you say any 'static' site without a cart or adsense is a brochure thats one thing. If your limiting it to a homepage, "about us" and "contact us" thats a whole different kettle of fish.
To the original poster ... here are a couple of great resources to help you justify a web site redesign to your client:
Web Design for ROI (216 pages)
Elements of User Experience (208 pages)
The Elements book is written by Jesse James Garrett, who's a leading figure in the world of Information Architecture. His book lays out an awesome framework for developing web site strategies that can ultimately help you explain/sell the benefits of a redesign to your client.
Here's another link to Jesse's Elements book:
Best of luck.
I think someone here (or collectively) should write an article about what makes a Web site look long-in-the-tooth, how they get that way, and why it matters for conversions to update a site, to pass along to clients. I'd be interested in this... is it worth it and why.
Does webmasterworld have an articles area?
This may be extremely simplistic, but a discount or special offer often goes a long way. It's a matter of building customer relations, really.
|I think he needs a better looking site and I genuinely think that I could build a site that will get him more visitor conversions. |
If he seems unwilling to take a risk, and if you are that confident the new site would help him see more conversions then here is what I would do: Do an entire backup of his site and put up a newer, better looking site, and if he doesn't like this new version and doesn't see better results, don't charge him and put up his old site.
It's desperate, but it all depends on just how confident you are in your work i guess.
Since my bread and butter is to make my clients more money when I feel they need an upgrade - I prove it to them.
Build a new home page (for free) and split test it against the old version. Continue testing those designs until you have one that significantly outperforms the older version. Then, you approach the client and show them how many leads or how much money they are losing by not making the upgrade.
Make sure you use hosted phone solution so that you can track phone calls. The more information that you can show the client the better chance you will have to convince him/her that there is a real need to change.
I have never had a client turn down a proposed upgrade when the numbers have proved that they were leaving money on the table. That said, if you can't show an improvement then why bother making a change?
rich_b, you need to put a solid business case to your client to justify a redesign. Forget anecdotes, hard business facts are what your client needs to make a decision and it needs to be zero risk for them (guaranteed results). If you can't offer that then you are asking them to gamble.
You need to say how you would change the design and how that WILL improve sales/conversions/enquiries/whatever their goals are compared to how well the site achieves their goals now.
I have nice looking sites and scruffy looking sites. My livelihood depends on them so I look at every way to improve their effectiveness and I can categorically say looks mean very little. What makes a site a success in terms of achieving its' goals once a visitor hits the site is how easy and quick it is to use. Simple, clear navigation, fast loading pages with clearly presented content and a short path to the goal (enquiry/order form).
You'll need a very thoroughly researched example of a competitor with a better performing website to make your case. If it works well already there is potentially (in the client's mind) risk associated with changing it. Hard business facts, that's what you need.
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