Stop the presses – we’ve got a new website!

I’m amazed how many companies still think it’s necessary to announce the redesign of their site on the homepage.

Example 1

“As I may have noticed? How could anyone overlook a makeover of such magnitude? You’re rocking a whole new look! And a new navigation!

By the way, don’t sweat the little stuff. You know, like pages still in progress and losing my password. I’ll check back frequently to see if you’ve got it all sorted out. And register again. Happily.

I mean, it’s not like I have a life or anything.”

Example 2(.0)

“Oh my God. I had always hoped you guys would go 2.0. And now, after 2 years of strugling (not quite sure what that is but it sounds like hard work), you’ve gone and done it.

A better news section and even an agenda. You know, I thought you’d start with something simple but no… 2.0 all the way.

And on top of all that: improved SEO. Well, that is just the cherry on the cake.

Thanks, guys.”

Why is an announcement about your new site a bad idea?

  • Nobody cares
    I understand that you’ve worked hard on your new website. For you and your team, getting the damn thing online is very important news. But it isn’t for your visitors.If you think it is, you need to have a big slice of humple pie. Because really, it totally isn’t.
    Half of the people who visit your site are probably there for the first time. They don’t even know what your site looked like before.
    And admit it, even your most faithful visitors probably only spend a couple of hours a year on your website. Don’t hassle them with news they don’t care about.
  • It’s not news, it’s your job
    People who come to your website expect to find what they’re looking for fast. They expect your navigation to be user-friendly. And your check-out process to be swift.
    Constantly updating and improving your website is not news. It’s your job.
  • It makes you lose money
    Usually, the ‘news’ about a website redesign is put on one of the most important pages of a site: on the homepage, above the pagefold, in the top left side of the content area.
    A lot of the time, that message pushes the site’s real content, the products and services people visit the site for, the stuff that actually makes them money, out of sight.
    If people can’t see what you’ve got to offer, they’ll leave. And visit your competitor. Who doesn’t bore them with news they couldn’t care less about.  

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  • Mark

    Please tell me those are old examples… I can’t believe anybody would still do that.

  • Els Aerts

    @Mark: All examples are from 2009. Sad but true.

  • Toby

    Mmm, humple pie.

    I think viewers of community sites, like some forums, family sites, etc like to hear about changes to the site, though not that powerfully (a post in a forum would do). New features on service sites with frequently visiting users are good to hear about as well, though again not so powerfully. Subtly.

  • Els Aerts

    @Toby: You’re absolutely right. There’s nothing wrong with telling people about changes or new features on your site that might interest them. Just don’t act like you’re Moses coming down the mountain with the stone tablets.

  • Pieter

    How would you handle the launch of a beta site where you would like to get users feedback? Would you go for an email announcement with ‘we want your feedback’ or is that a bad idea as well?
    I do want to be careful, but at the same time – I value user feedback very highly…

  • Els Aerts

    @Pieter: You can ask for feedback via a mail to your customers or subscribers and on your site, as long as you keep it modest. :)

  • Atomiton

    A Banner on the page, up on the right with an invitation to join the Beta program. “JOIN OUR BETA PROGRAM!” A nice 150 x 80px rounded box image. Or, depending on your site and audience, something like what StackOverflow does: for first time visitors. Optionally, the “NEW!” badge, like what Google does. If your site has a lot of white space and you are careful with the colors, even something relatively small is noticed long enough to advertise, but not large enough to annoy.