Do I Really Need To Redesign My Website?

Recently we took a call from a prospective client who was unsure if he needed to have his company’s website redesigned. The company’s clients have recently started to complain about the website – issues such as slow load times, information was becoming hard to find, and the website wasn’t responding well to mobile devices. We asked the client when the last time the website was redesigned, to which he responded, 2009. Yes, he definitely needed a redesign.

Every year there are significant advances in website functionality. That’s not to say you need a website redesign every year, but you should be aware of what new functionality and features are available to you. At Rebel Trail, we always keep our clients informed of what’s new in the world of website development, and how the new functions and features may be of benefit to their website. Often, upgrading to these new features does not involve a full redesign, usually it’s just a tune up or ‘face lift’. However, if a client lets many years of these new functions slip by, then it can be more difficult to implement them, and a full redesign may be necessary.

On average, you should consider a redesign every 3 – 6 years depending on the size, popularity, and functionality of your website. This will keep the design fresh and the functionality current. You always want to stay one step ahead of your competition, so it’s a good idea to schedule a review of your competitor’s websites at least every quarter. Your potential customers will be looking at your competitor’s websites so you should always know how your website compares.

If your company goes through any kind of re-branding initiative, or even changes their logo, this is a good time to revamp the website as well. You always want to ensure that your marketing is consistent through all your platforms, so if a change is made on one platform, it should be made for them all. Certainly, if your website is not responsive you should immediately seek a redesign initiative. Responsive websites are those that automatically change their layout depending on the device that views it. In this case a website will look different on a desktop computer versus a mobile phone. Even Google now penalizes websites that are not responsive, so potential customers will have a harder time finding you if your website does not have this feature.

If it’s been over 5 years since your last website redesign, you’ll also want to look at your hosting – specifically if your web server has not been upgraded in that time. Web servers do have a limited shelf life, and the older they are, the more susceptible they are to performance issues, slow load times and crashes. Each time you redesign your website you should upgrade your hosting as well. Make sure you are on a modern web server that’s fully secure and uses today’s platform standards. Not only will this provide you with more functionality for your website, but your customers will enjoy the boost in speed and security.

At Rebel Trail, our websites are designed to stand the test of time, but that doesn’t mean they should! Your website should grow with your business and automate manual redundant tasks. It should attract customers like a super magnet, and streamline your communications and work flow processes. If it’s not, then perhaps its time to consider a redesign. To explore the benefits of a website redesign project, contact Rebel Trail today!

Toronto Web Design Strategies That Work: The Flowchart

Have you ever tried to build a house without a blueprint? How about constructing Ikea furniture without instructions? Or better yet, have you ever tried driving to Mississauga without a map or GPS? These are all challenging tasks, but without the proper guidance or planning, they can all become downright impossible. The same could be said for developing your web design project without a flowchart – sure it can be done, but the end result will not be pretty. In fact, the flowchart is the most critical part to your website development project, and without it, there’s very little chance your website design project will be a success.

At Rebel Trail, whenever we are welcoming a new client, we are always curious to know how their last Toronto web design firm treated them, and what were the issues that led them to contact us. Most of these new clients will cite problems during both website design and development stages. The problems range in type and complexity, but almost all of them can be traced back to a lack of a flowcharting stage. In fact, when we ask these new clients if their previous designer ever developed a flowchart, the answer is almost always ‘no – they went straight from the contract to the design of the website’. Clearly an important website development stage has been missed.

Using the house construction analogy, could you imagine a house being built without a blueprint? Imagine the construction crew haphazardly building large sections of your home with no forethought, strategy, plan, or coordination. Would you want to live in the end-result knowing that it could collapse at any point? Now imagine how much it would cost to fix all the mistakes that were made. Unfortunately, we see this kind of development in the web design industry all the time. Some website foundations are so bad that we must start from scratch.

Rebel Trail uses five basic development stages for any website project, and these stages are always customized to the client’s unique needs. In order these stages are: contract, flowchart, design, development, deployment. The flowchart stage comes immediately after we have signed a contract with the client – it is always the very first stage. The website development flowchart is a document that maps out every webpage in your website and shows how they link together. The navigation of your website is clearly defined in this document, and graphically shows you how a user will navigate from the home page to any other page on your website within one click. Further, all functionality of your website is fully documented in the flowchart. Even if your website has simple functions like online contact forms, we will document what information these forms contain, and how that information gets to you instantly. For more complex functions such as custom applications, this functional documentation is invaluable as it charts the information flow precisely.

The flowchart forces you to think of the website from the user’s perspective and streamline the processes for them. Functions that may look good in a photoshop design can sometimes fall apart when applied to a live website, so the flowchart helps us avoid those mistakes. We also document your admin system, or content management system, in the flowchart so you can see exactly how information you input into the website will be presented to your users. This allows for unlimited client customizations so that we develop a system that works perfectly for the client’s unique needs. Further, we provide you with unlimited revisions to the flowchart with no alteration in the website price. You can take as long as you’d like to make sure the flowchart perfectly accomplishes your goals.

It normally takes about 2 weeks to complete a website development flowchart. This process is guided by one of our professional website consultants and Rebel Trail does all the work. We will consult with you every step of the way and present you with unlimited revisions. The flowchart stage is only complete when you, the client, are thoroughly satisfied with the results. We then have a solid blueprint for your website and can confidently proceed to the design and development stages.

Of course, this question always comes up: “What if I want to make changes after the flowchart is complete?”. Having been in business for over 22 years, we know that even with a completed flowchart, new ideas can arise during design and development, and we want to do everything possible to encourage those great website ideas. Website development flowcharts should not be ‘carved in stone’, rather they should have the flexibility to accommodate new ideas and growth. A good flowchart attempts to see into the future and predict what future website development phases may include. New ideas that arise post-flowchart phase should be welcomed and easily integrated into the overall project scope.

If you are considering a Toronto web design project, make sure the project plan includes a flowchart stage. It may add a week or two to your development timeline, but the time and costs it saves from a poorly development website is invaluable.

What to Expect for Web Design Companies in 2019

2019 will be an exciting year for the Toronto Web Development industry. There are so many innovative functions and tools coming this year that you will immediately want to redesign your existing website to incorporate all that 2019 will have to offer. So let’s take a look at what will power your website project this year.

The mobile website development market will continue to gain ground this year, which is good news for any website that features a responsive design. If your website design is not responsive, then you can expect a significant slide in your Google page rankings. In 2018, the mobile website viewing audience surpassed its desktop counterpart, and Google started to reward mobile-friendly websites with higher placement in the search engine rankings. Now more than ever, you need to have mobile compliance with your Toronto website development project- it will be the single greatest contributor to achieving top results with the search engines.

The mobile-first website development in Toronto will usher in a new style of design that is already starting to dominate the market. That trend is single-page website design where the majority of a website’s content is on a single long-scrolling page. This is to accommodate the mobile device with less clicking and more scrolling. The long-scrolling web page offers a number of new design features such as parallax design where dynamic content scrolls over static imagery creating a subtle yet interactive effect.

We also expect to see full-screen video start to dominate the Toronto website development market. Already many dynamic websites are starting to use full-screen video as either a background or in place of the typical slide show that so many homepages use. Video is naturally more engaging than static imagery and is a natural fit for your website development project.

You’ll see more micro animations on Toronto website development projects this year. These are small animations that make content and transitions more engaging to the user. The key is to not overuse these animations as you don’t want your website development project to start to look like a pinball game. Tasteful use of these micro animations can add a very smooth effect to the overall website interface.

On the not-so-good side, we can only expect website security to be continually tested by those who would seek to exploit it. website and data security was all over the news in 2018 with a new hack reported on a weekly basis. All Toronto website owners should be constantly testing their websites for vulnerabilities, and should all be using SSL security. If your website doesn’t start with ‘https’ then you may be looking at a security problem this year. Talk to your website developer to ensure 2019 attracts more visitors and not more hackers.

 

Web Design Companies in 2018 – A Review

As 2018 comes to a close it is timely to look back at the year and contemplate the trends and technologies that dominated the web design company landscape.  It is this reflection that may give us a glimpse into what 2019 has in store, and what new trends may be worth investing for your Toronto web development project in the new year.

Website security was continually at the top of the news cycle with major data breaches reported by almost every industry sector. From Facebook to FedEx, it appeared that no one’s data was safe as countless companies admitted to lapses in cybersecurity. It is for this reason that Rebel Trail doubled its investments in securing our client’s data at both the local and Toronto datacenter levels and is committed to being on the forefront of Toronto website development security.

Speaking of security, is your website SSL compliant? When you visit it in a browser, is there a little lock icon beside the URL? If not, this is the year that Google started to penalize sites that won’t offer this extra layer of protection. It’s actually quite easy to get this certification for your Toronto web design project, and usually just a matter of requesting it from your hosting provider. If you’re unsure about the process, just give us a call and we’ll walk you through it.

The mobile market continued to gain ground and in 2018 has surpassed the desktop computer as the largest website viewing market. This means that more people will be viewing your website on their phone, than on a desktop computer. So, if your website isn’t mobile compliant, you’re likely going to be penalized with your search engine rankings. Luckily, every website produced from our studios is fully responsive – meaning that the website design will reformat itself for the small and large screen alike. Google is known to give websites with a responsive design a bit of a boost in their rankings.  If you are contemplating a redesign of your Toronto website in the next year, be sure to plan for a responsive website counterpart.

Social media stats climbed even higher this year, even with the controversy surrounding Facebook and your personal data. Every solid Toronto website development project includes a social media plan that outlines the need to keep content current and pushed to multiple platforms. A good website content management system will allow you to easily push new content to all of your social media sites with the click of a button. If you’re still manually updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn you should look at an upgrade to your content management system. In 2018 you should input once and output to multiple platforms.