Your site is ugly. (Is this a reason for website redesign…or not?)

Filed under: Business Website Tips

Thoughts on reasons for a website redesign from the owner of a company that does… (wait for it) a lot of website redesigns…


A blog I recently read stated (as fact) that having an ugly website should never be a reason for a website redesign.

The blog made the (very) valid point that making a website look good doesn’t guarantee an increase in traffic, conversions, or sales. While this is true, it simply doesn’t follow that an ugly website is never a good reason for website redesign.

In many cases, an ugly website does indeed make an extremely strong case for a redesign.

It’s not magic

Improving a site’s appearance via a professional website redesign is far from a magic panacea. A website redesign doesn’t automatically increases a site’s effectiveness. But appearance does matter, and you’ve got to get that right if you’re looking to insure your website does its job. 

Your site by no means needs to be original. Or stunning. Or beautiful. Or creative. It really doesn’t.  Yet if you’ve got a truly ugly website and think a redesign would be a waste of money, consider that an ugly website can:

  • negatively impact how potential customers perceive your professionalism
  • damage your brand or company image
  • prevent leads and opportunities from converting into future and/or recurring sales

Furthermore, ugly websites often go hand in hand with usability issues, functionality problems, and poor user experiences. If your site’s design is cluttered, if it has low contrast, if the fonts are difficult to read, if the colors are distracting…not only does the site look bad, it will fail to do its job as well as it should. It will prevent your potential customers from finding the content they want and turning into leads. It will position you in a poor manner.

Your website directly reflects your company: an ugly website will make you look bad.  But the question remains: Is an ugly website a reason for a website redesign?

Giving the right impression

Just like a $20 discount logo design, an ugly website presents your company in an unprofessional, amateurish manner. The credibility of a business can suffer dramatically if its website is ugly—after all, sometimes the website the sole thing that potential customers have to initially judge the business.

Some companies measure website effectiveness based on traffic or conversion rates, but fail to remember the importance of branding and positioning your company against the competition.

What about when businesses like resorts, spas, and fine-dining restaurants have ugly websites?  It sends the message that these supposedly-upscale or luxurious business might not be so luxurious after all. Damage to the brands of these types of companies may or may not show up in website statistics, but the damage is certainly real and can translate into lost profits. We’ve seen it happen here in Colorado.

An ugly site can create a negative impression that’s hard for people to shake. That alone can be a good reason to consider a website redesign.

In other words: A website says a lot about your business, and “ugly” is not one of the things you want it to say!

Let’s take a look at an example.

Imagine: You’re taking your beloved on a romantic date tomorrow night but haven’t yet figured out where you’re going.  Now look at the screenshots of Restaurant A and Restaurant B below.

Which restaurant website would you be more likely to spend time exploring?  What impression do you have of the restaurants, based on how they present themselves via their websites?

Two restaurant websites

Website redesigns do not automatically confuse your visitors

The blog I mentioned earlier suggested that customers often feel upset and frustrated by website redesigns because they’re used to the old site and have to adjust to the new site.

Again, I have to disagree.

Making a site look better, when usability and user-friendliness are focused on, pleases customers (especially when it comes to lower-traffic websites that never encouraged repeat visitors, or sites that weren’t intuitive in the first place!). 

Please your customers, grow your sales

Retailers have long understood the importance of providing customers with a pleasurable shopping experience. They don’t want to turn off customers with unattractive stores, so they emphasize a retail design that’s as good-looking as possible.

But successful retailers go beyond that. They want customers to enjoy being in the store—to want to come back. They also pay close attention to merchandise layout and display, always with an eye and the use of psychology to inspire more buying.

Consider thinking about websites in the same way.

The bottom line

All sites are unique.

Every site has its own blend of traffic, loyalty, usability, and…ugliness. That’s exactly why the decision as to whether a website redesign will make a significant impact must be decided on a site-by-site basis, hopefully with the assistance of an expert. (You know. Someone you can trust. Like the Colorado website redesign experts here at DisplayGround.)

It all depends.
Sometimes, spending marketing dollars on a website redesign would be a waste of money.
In some cases, a few updates may be all that’s needed.
In others, a smart, purposeful website redesign can pay tremendous dividends.