Are you considering a web site redesign in the near future?
During a web site redesign there is a mistake that many businesses unnecessarily commit. This article takes into consideration that you already have an existing web site. The mistake involves taking down your old site while transitioning to a new web site. During the downtime a temporary page or splash page is usually erected. Such a scenario can create a liability to your brand and your web site.
Changing Over Too Quickly
In the web development world I see a tremendous amount of pressure to transition into a new site as soon as possible. There are too many times when a client pressures their developer to put up an incomplete web site. I've been in this situation myself. In my professional opinion the client's new site lacked a significant amount of content. I attempted to justify my concern with the client. In the end the client insisted on launching the incomplete web site. We complied with their request and posted the web site. It looked very empty.
Why should I leave my old site up until my new site is complete?
Taking down your old web site can have an adverse affect on your SEO/SEM endeavors. Over the short term references to your old web site files are still going to be indexed in search engines. If people click on a link that doesn't exist anymore you are going to face problems. When you put up your new site it might take weeks or months to get all your pages indexed properly. Consider keeping to the same file naming conventions and directory structure.
Change in the Background
Keep your old site running while you test your new design. Give your users a sneak peak of what direction you are headed in the future. Encourage users to provide you with feedback on the sneak peak. They might be able to identify something that you didn't even consider or identify a costly mistake.
Your web site redesign transition should be seamless. Keep your old site up until your new site is ready to go. Changeovers should be done with minimum impact to your users. If you are expecting a time consuming changeover consider doing it late at night. This will ensure minimal impact on the user. Don't forget that the web is world wide. Be conscientious of where you user base is located.
Take Your Time
Take your time when redesigning your web site because your users will never know the difference. Make sure you get your site done right the first time as opposed to as quickly as possible. "I just didn't like how the old web site looked" is not an acceptable justification for removing your old site during a redesign. Something is better than nothing.
Remember you should redesign your web site for the convenience of the user. Sometimes business people have difficulty taking their ego out of the equation. There are exceptions to this recommendation. On exception is when the old web site is such a liability to you or your company that it needs to come down immediately.
If you take some time to think through the redesign process, you can save yourself significant time and money in the future.