Good question –is it? It very well could be the perfect time for you to redesign your site. There are many obvious reasons for doing so, but it must be taken seriously and not half-hearted. Lots of time, effort, money -heck even blood sweat and tears…okay maybe not blood, but most certainly sweat. Hopefully this post helps you avoid tears as well . It’s very important to have a plan so you understand what needs to be done. Having a well-planned strategy for your website is the foundation; the actual design of your site are the building blocks. So, back to answer this million dollar question, let’s take a look at some of the indicators that you’re ready for a new design, starting with the most important first. 

My Site Doesn’t Work!

Yeah, this is a big one. If you site isn’t working like you want or at all is a huge indicator that something different needs to be done. While this isn’t the only consideration in making the decision, it is an important factor. 

User’s Expectations

Your visitors want and need to get exactly what they expect from you site. Users can’t be expected to understand your business or what it is that you offer when your site isn’t working. And let’s not forget that your site is a reflection of your brand. You don’t want users getting frustrated due to lack of access or functionality to your site because you will experience a lower than desired return on your investment. 

Features

The features of your site should be a focus, not an after-thought. They need to function in a way that makes your visitors lives a bit easier. So if your site’s features aren’t the focal point or if they just flat out don’t work right, it’s time for a new site. 

Outdated Functionality

Not that your site doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work with the current tools you have for users to interact with. Technology is ever-changing and keeping up with it is a must because your users need it. Ecommerce, mapping, site search, product search, news, and events are all good examples of common functionality sites have. If any of these aren’t serving the best look and functionality to your user, then it may be time for new site. 

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Your users are on the go and are all equipped with awesome smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices. You need to not only support these various devices, but your site should be optimized for each. Why sacrifice anything if it will help your users, which in return helps your business?  

All the talk now-a-days is about Responsive Web Design. And rightly so! It’s a simple concept; your site should be responsive to the device it’s being accessed on. So whether your user is accessing your contact page to get your address for their GPS map program on their way to a meeting with you, or if they are ordering a product from your site while waiting on their flight at the airport, they need and expect it to look and function responsively even though they don’t have any idea what Responsive Web Design is.  

Competition

There are two sides to this coin and both can be positive (and it’s not just my eternal optimism). Take a look:

Beat ’em to the punch!

You see things changing on the web. You are a forward thinker and know that it’s inevitable that users are going to need more than what you currently provide. Get ahead of the game and start contemplating Content Strategy, Social Media Integration, and whatever else your brilliant brain has figured out. Don’t second guess your awesome ideas; instead act on them and get yourself a new website! 

They beat you to the punch!

Darn! This is less optimal than the above option, but don’t let it discourage you. You haven’t missed the boat. Heck, it hasn’t even started its engine yet. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to wait any longer. Now get on your horse and get a new site planned, designed, built, and launched! 

So you need a new site, right?

Now that you see that it’s clear as day that you need a new site, it’s time for you to act. Hopefully you have a starting point and I’ve stirred some new thoughts, and helped you avoid those tears I mentioned.

The base Visual Studio installation gives you enough functionality to get by, but I find that the use of a few Extensions really helps VS 2012 shine. Some of my favorites include:

Code Compare

This is a better code comparison tool and the basic version is free. You have to do a little trickery to get it to work when you do check-in compares. But follow these simply tricks and you are set to go.

  • Hit Tools -> Options -> Source Control -> Visual Studio Team Foundation Server -> Configure User Tool


    Compare:

    • Operation
      • Compare
    • Command
      • C:\Program Files\Devart\Code Compare\CodeCompare.exe
    • Arguments
      • /SC=TFS /W /T1=%6 /T2=%7 %1 %2

    Merge:

    • Operation
      • Merge
    • Command
      • C:\Program Files\Devart\Code Compare\CodeMerge.exe
    • Arguments
      • /TF=%1 /MF=%2 /RF=%4 /BF=%3 /TT=%6 /MT=%7 /SC=TFS

    Indent Guides

    This extension adds guidelines to better see the indent levels.

    NuGet Package Manager

    This extension is used for managing different code packages.  It is very useful and should be used to ensure your external code packages are up to date.

    Productivity Power Tools 2012

    This extension provides a bunch of additional functionality that should have been in Visual Studio to start with. My most used piece of functionality from this extension is the Ctrl + Click to go to the definition of what is clicked on. This link, http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/3a96a4dc-ba9c-4589-92c5-640e07332afd?fwLinkID=271503, has a list of everything that is included.

    Resharper

    This extension takes a lot of monotony out of our lives. Once you start using it, you will not want to be without it. You will forget what Visual Studio does natively and what Resharper gives you. It is well worth at least downloading it to preview.

    VSCommands for Visual Studio 2012

    This extension provides many more cool features for Visual Studio. I am only using the Lite version right now, but they also have a Pro version. The feature that sold me is a Code Block End Tagger, which basically shows this: 

    The grayed out lines indicate what starts the code block so you don’t have to scroll up to find out, very useful and there are a ton of other features as well.

    Web Essentials 2012

    This extension is used for bundling and minimizing CSS and JS files.  The extension makes it a fast and easy process.  It also adds some enhancements to JavaScript and CSS worth checking out.

    Hope you find these extensions as helpful as I do.