How many times have you looked at your website and wanted to do an complete redesign? And how many times you said, ok I do it next month when I'm less busier. The truth is, that we just keep postponing the redesign and don't do anything. But maybe just a little evolution and some small tweaking would do the job and would improve the website. How to decide if you need a complete new design or just some improvement? Here some questions to ask yourself and if you answer the majority with yes you need a complete overhaul.
Is your webdesign "trendy"?
Design is like fashion, there are trends. And the bigger trends of the last couple of years have been grunge, comics, <insert other trend here>. The beauty of the internet is, that it's evolving fast. But just like in fashion, your site can look old fashioned in a blast. So if you don't plan to renew the site design every year or so don't get too trendy on your next design. And if your design is trendy now, get on to the next trend - sustainable web design.
Are you changing (or need to change) your website technology?
You are on a self hosted wordpress installation and want to switch over to a tumblr blog or get over to squarespace to not have to deal with updates and servers any more? It's a good time for a redesign. You spend as much time to recreate your website on the new services as redoing the whole design. It can be evolutionary at large but take this opportunity.
Is your website just in Flash?
While I'm not a Flash hater and I see many uses of Flash in the real world that make sense, I cannot see the point of having a complete site in Flash anymore. It's not even ok for "business card" sites with no content and who don't want to get found in the search engine except for your local pizzeria which name you know but not the telephone number. Many of this businesses want something "flashy" and don't mind the technology. It's easier for a designer to please them with a nice Flash animation - and often it's also quicker to do a Flash site, but you will get in trouble when mobile gets more important and the sites won't work correctly. So I hope that with the advent of HTML 5 we will get rid of these problems - but if you want to prepare yourself now, get rid of Flash.
Evolution is better
I just picked three questions for the revolution section because there are not many reasons to do complete redesigns. Many times small improvements can have a big impact and help your site. Big sites like Amazon and Wikipedia have gone a radical redesign if you compare them to 5 years ago, but the steps where small. One by one. Testing and seeing what works and what doesn't. Is learning from nature - making a lot of small variations to experiment what works best costs less "energy" that redoing everything from scratch. The are some instances where your have to revolutionize - but more often than not, evolution beats revolution.
Image courtesy of StePagna