Evolutionary Web Design (EWD) versus Revolutionary Web Design (RWD)

When a website starts to show its age, the first knee-jerk response is to decide on a “complete overhaul”. This means that we go back to the drawing board and begin anew. This process is called Revolutionary Web Design (RWD). You throw out the old architectural design paradigms and start afresh.

Evolutionary Web Design (EWD) on the other hand, makes small changes to the website iteratively. Such incremental improvements to the website are generally less risky while still evolving the website to meet the current needs of the business.

Currently, RWD is the popular way to redesign a website, but it is important to tread cautiously when going into this design approach. For one thing, it can be expensive, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of resources and time.

So how do you decide which way is the right way for you?

When to choose Revolutionary Web Design (RWD)

If there is no website, then the choice is obvious. Get building one!

If there is an existing website, then here are 5 main reasons to go for the Revolutionary Web Design route:

  1. The website isn’t on a Content Management System (CMS).
  2. In this era, having a Content Management System is a requirement. If the site isn’t built on a CMS, then an overhaul is in your cards.

  3. Site and content architecture need re-organization.
  4. When most of the content has to be rewritten and/or re-organized, it is best to redo the site along with its content architecture. A new direction in the company may also require a re-organization of it’s current content. This is the perfect time to create a logical and intuitive structure which accommodates existing content, and content that is underway. The structure should also be accomodable for future expansion of the content categories,.

  5. The current website has little or no SEO value.
  6. Revolutionary web design is generally detrimental to SEO. In the revolutionary process, site architecture along with navigation could change, which can disturb the inbound links resulting in the search engine rankings to drop.

    If the current site’s SEO isn’t of much value, then RWD should be your choice. Starting anew will be less time-consuming and beneficial than evolving the existing website.

  7. A new functionality needs to be added to the website which demands a site overhaul.
  8. If a new functionality needs to be added to the current website, but the existing architecture cannot support the desired new functionality in a logical way, then a revolutionary redesign and a complete code-rewrite may be necessary. At this time, the new interfaces (both frontend and backend) along with  the new code base should be created with significant attention towards the potential future needs of the website. In other words, if a revolutionary redesign is necessary, it should be done in such a way that it enables future redesigns to be evolutionary.

When Revolutionary Web Design doesn’t make sense

There are many WRONG reasons to embark on a revolutionary web design.

  1. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is true online as well!
  2. When you see a competitor with a spanking new website, the first instinct would be to plan a new design for your website in your competition’s image. Don’t! Figure out your online needs first and then use a marketing person/agency to determine the next steps.

  3. I want the new fad.
  4. Sometimes the urge to have the next new fad on your website is very enticing. These ‘fads’ are simply tools that need to be vetted and used appropriately by your designer for their efficacy on your website.

  5. The management has decided on a complete redesign.
  6. It is one thing to believe that you need to keep your website up-to-date and quite another to decide how to achieve that. Let the professionals you hire, lead you. The management should talk about what to achieve online with their website and other assets and listen to their design professional’s recommendations on how to achieve those objectives online.

  7. “Let’s redesign for better SEO.”
  8. An RWD generally diminishes your SEO.  If done right, the SEO rankings will bounce back. Again, it is important to let a professional recommend the solution.

  9. It is time for a redesign because we haven’t done it in many years.
  10. You may not need a revolutionary design. Let a professional audit your website to determine the next steps. RWD process is, in general, expensive and lengthy. Again, talk to your designer.


Evolutionary Web Design (EWD)

No design is perfect. Mic drop!

All designs can be improved and enhanced, but not all designs require an overhaul. This is where evolutionary web design comes into play.

But when to choose EWD?

  1. When the content is fine, but the design needs to be updated.
  2. Every few years, it is important to change the design elements on the site to keep it fresh, clean and updated with the time. This can be easily accomplished by releasing a few updates to the design at a time. This would give the users a chance to acclimatize to the changes before being subjected to another round of updates.

  3. Can’t commit to an expensive redesign, but okay with incremental costs for evolving the website.
  4. Cost can be prohibitive in the redesign of a heavy content website. This is where EWD can come in handy. Portions of the website can be selected for improvements. Once these changes are released, the next round of edits can be planned. This way, each and every section of the website that needs to be changed are divided into manageable tasks that are tackled one at a time.

  5. Staff doesn’t have much time to commit for the project.
  6. This is another perfect scenario for considering EWD. Since EWD is committed for rolling out a series of changes to the website, the time required will be more manageable. Each round of changes will have limited scope and laser focus on one particular section or aspect of the website. These would require less time commitment while getting the bang for your buck.

  7. Don’t want the SEO rankings to be disturbed.
  8. The website needs a redesign, but you are nervous about disturbing your SEO rankings? You should be! Redesigning a website without any concern for the existing search rankings would drop your search rankings, which would take months to recover. At the same time, the website can’t look outdated. This is where EWD can shine, if done right.

Next time, when you are in need of a redesign, consider the evolutionary way. You can improve the user experience with incremental changes to your website while keeping the look & feel fresh for a fraction of time and money.