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Rebranding vs. Refreshing Your Blog Design

When it comes to updating the look of your blog website, there are a lot of decisions you need to make. One of the most important decisions you will make is how far you want to go in the redesign stage. That is, determining whether or not to completely rebrand your blog, or just refresh some of the current elements of your design.

The design of your blog is one of the top contributing factors to how viewers will judge your blog. It’s all about first impressions, and whatever you can do to make the best first impression, you might actually see some people sticking around.

The important thing about creating a great first impression with a design isn’t always about the beauty of the design, but the memorability. If you have flashy graphics, that may be what makes your design memorable. But there are so many different elements that can make a design memorable other than complex illustrations. Things as simple as color and structure can be just as important. With programming and CSS skills, you can put a great layout and alternatively, great website builder tools like SITE123 also allow you to create stunning designs with-in minutes.

So when the time comes for your blog to get a little design tuneup, what is the best way to approach it? Should you go for a full-blown redesign (rebranding) or come up with some tweaks to your current design (refresh)?

Rebranding

To rebrand your blog, you are introducing an entirely new look and feel to your blog. There is really no limit to what you can do with a rebrand as your are changing the old brand entirely. Generally, there isn’t much left of your old design after you rebrand your blog.

Advantages:

  1. Creates opportunity to fix your brand
    Usually when first starting out as a novice blogger, you don’t have the best ideas in the world. After a few months of getting to know your niche, and what design elements work best for it, you may get some new ideas that could make your new brand better than your old one. Maybe a new color scheme will work better, or moving your sidebar to the other side of your blog will help. Completely changing the look of your blog gives you a plethora of opportunities to improve what didn’t work so well with your old brand.
  2. Create buzz
    The great thing about change is how much you can talk about it. If your regular readers hear how you have changed the entire look of your blog, some excitement will brew up inside of them and they will undoubtedly come to your blog and see what you have changed. Buzz isn’t just limited to your readers, many people out there are fascinated with design and will check out a site with a new design as a place for inspiration.
  3. It’s nice to add something new
    If you have kept that same design up for a few years, then it’s very likely there are people who are bored with it. With a total blog redesign, you are adding something entirely new to your blog. A blog that keeps pushing out articles is great, but it’s not as interactive as adding new features and showing that you are still committed to giving your readers a nice experience.

Disadvantages:

  1. Causes confusion
    This goes back to the idea of “memorability” I talked about earlier. If you change everything that people once recognized your blog by, you can cause confusion and other harmful effects on people’s perception of your blog. Changing the brand, the thing that people recognized your blog by, is a very risky move and doesn’t always work out in the best way.
  2. It’s a lot of work
    A rebrand takes a lot of time as literally every last piece of your blog is changed in some way. This time could be spent on working on improving other areas of your blog like the content aspects, and because a rebrand is so risky and not always successful – you may just end up wasting time.
  3. Start from scratch
    The new brand of design you are introducing to your community will need to take time to become recognized. You basically tear down your old brand in its entirety when you throw up a new design, so it will take a little time for people to be able to associate with your site with this new brand.

Refreshing

A refreshed blog design is mostly the same look and feel, just with some structural differences. The changes made are generally not as big as they would be with a total overhaul, and mostly retains the same brand after the design is completed.

Lawlor White & Murphey Law firm blog is a great example of refreshed design. Their UI, SEO silo architecture and CTAs make it a great element for conversion.

Advantages:

  1. Keeps your brand alive
    A design refresh is all about modifying and improving your current design. Because changes are so minimal compared to a total redesign, the branding of your blog will remain almost completely intact. If the colors your blog started out with are blue and white, and you refresh your colors so they are now blue, white and gray, people will still remember that same color scheme.
  2. It’s less work
    Refreshing takes a lot less time to do as you have a current design to work off of already. Ideas could be easier to come by when you are working off of a design you are used to rather than starting from scratch.
  3. It’s often easier
    A refresh is easier in nearly every way. It’s easier to come up with great new features, easier to introduce to your community, and a lot easier to get used to once it’s actually out.
  4. Ease confusion amongst readers
    With a design refresh, often the biggest changes that are made are the ones that take the least amount of time to get used to. Design refreshes are often done periodically over time and any big changes made are usually broken down into smaller, more adaptable steps.

Disadvantages:

  1. Changes may be too few
    Sometimes, you may not have done enough to restructure your blog. Some features may not be as dynamic as they should have been to be considered a “refresh” or you may have simply not done enough.
  2. Fixing things that aren’t broken
    Some designers like to try and make things better. Some things they try to “fix” oftentimes don’t need to be fixed, and what was supposed to be an upgrade actually devalues the feature of the design.
  3. Need to do it more often
    The excitement of a design refresh usually doesn’t last as long as it does with a full redesign. So, you will find yourself refreshing your design more than you would if you redesigned it. Generally, if you add a lot of new features to your blog and expand it more – you will need more refreshes to be able to cope with those changes.

When you completely change your blog, you are able to completely customize it to meet your needs now. The more and more you refresh, you have to keep adjusting your layout to make sure everything fits and looks right. Doing multiple design refreshes a year takes up some much needed time.

My Verdict: Refresh

I think a design refresh is the best choice here. One of the easiest ways to remember a blog is by its design. I feel that a complete redesign of it would confuse people about your brand, whereas a refresh would still keep most of your memorable elements intact.

But what do you think?

My opinions are there, now what do you think? Are you a person who would rather refresh their design, or come out with a totally new design? Share your opinions here.

Image Courtesy – Tim Wright @Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldton_tim/3327264346/

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