How often should you redesign your website? Probably not as often as you’d like. There are lots of constraints to consider, after all, since time, energy, and money are all precious commodities not everyone is willing to part with on a frequent basis. A redesign seems to be a whole new project on its own, and an opportunity to do a spring cleaning of sorts on one’s website.
But maybe the question shouldn’t be about a redesign that is defined by a complete overhaul, where everything is thrown out and a large number of resources are required each time.
I think the hesitation or the lack of shift in how redesigns can be perceived comes from the general hesitation in the way websites are used. It’s still something technical that requires a limited class of people with a certain expertise.
Still, it’s worth looking at the process of updating a website differently. Try breaking down the activity into smaller, less intimidating chunks. Worry less about having to put the site in maintenance mode and see how feasible it is to tweak in the public eye, where instant feedback is easier to come by than ever and a good way to build a relationship with the audience. The good stuff stays, the bad stuff goes. Think of it as an continuing evolution rather than a halt-then-redo.
This philosophy keeps you attuned to every aspect of the site, and not only when it’s convenient. It helps you look beyond the visual aspect and avoid jumping on the bandwagon with every new trend that comes out. This way you get a chance to really examine whether an idea is effective when it ships.
Of course, for a site to withstand frequent edits it also requires a sturdy enough foundation, from underlying HTML and CSS for the layout to the publishing platform for the features. If your site’s somehow lacking in that department right now, it may be best to go with something solid to build on first.