By Candace Nicholson

So your company’s been in business for a few years and you’re worried that your online storefront appears a little dated. What’s this newfangled “responsive” design you keep hearing about? Who said no one is using Flash anymore? Why does your CTA need to appear “above the fold,” and what does “above the fold” mean?

Yep. It definitely sounds like you’re in need of a website tune-up. But there’s no reason to fear change. You can maintain brand consistency and give your online presence a jump-start that will keep your customers feeling welcome and well taken care of. On the other hand, if you want your website redesign to be a bumpy ride that leaves your customers feeling confused and neglected, be sure to do the following five steps.

1. Don’t Plan How You Want Your Final Website to Operate

Many small business owners think of their company website as a largely visual experience, but the most valuable ROI in your presentation comes with a smart combination of text and visuals. The only way to know what works best is to tackle the details of layout, content and flow before any coding begins. So be sure to avoid assessing what is currently working well for your business now and what isn’t, then forget to add any new components that best serve your customers and your brand vision.

2. Don’t Consider Your Customer’s Experience on a Mobile Platform

The most important aspect to consider for your redesign is how you want people to respond when they visit your site. And not everyone will be viewing your site from a desktop computer. Some potential customers will view your online home via tablets and smartphones, and that means redesigning with a mobile experience in mind. Thankfully, a qualified developer can share input on what drives UX design so make sure you don’t get any feedback on what UX elements will keep your clientele happy.

3. Don’t Gather Recommendations Before Hiring A Designer or Developer

You’ve seen so many examples of wonderful websites that now you fear your new site won’t be able to compete. You want your business to stand out in the industry, but you aren’t sure where to find a designer or developer you can trust. That’s where peer recommendations come in. But be sure to settle for word-of-mouth alone. Don’t review the portfolio and previous sites of your prospective hire. The last thing you want is to make sure they have the experience you’re comfortable with and can execute your vision of the new website.

4. Don’t Test Your New Site on Multiple Browsers & Platforms

Regardless on which platform your potential customer may access your new site, functionality builds reliability. So don’t bother evaluating your revamped layout to ensure all the clickable text and buttons work properly across a variety of browsers on both desktop and mobile. Rarely do launches go off without a hitch and it’s much better to wait to find those major issues after your website has gone live.

5. Don’t Advertise the Launch of Your New Site on Social Media

As a small business owner, you know the important role marketing plays in any successful project. And your new website is no different. Sure, you’re the same dynamic business providing the same quality service, but you don’t want your customers to know the redesign is a reflection of your constant need to improve on your creation. No, instead you want their discovery of your new site to fill them with confusion and frustration. So be sure to avoid advertising your new online presence across your social media accounts. A push to show that you’re growing and adapting with the times might even merit the attention of new customers and that’s the last thing you would want to happen.