What to consider before designing or re-designing a website

There is a more up to date version of this post, Redesign Your Website SEO Checklist.
**After conversations with several clients (both current and future) one question always gets asked it appears, and that is “Why should I have a website?” and another format of this “why should I have my site redeveloped?” So I thought I would write a blog on this. And here it is.**

Do these sound familiar?
We have a site, spent alot on it and its still clunky
It served us well then but it is now not performing
The company we had said they would create the best thing ever, but left it incomplete
Our competitors have a leading edge from us because they have a better website
We ask developers to add features but they always seem to says its not possible
We need to beat the market and move forward before the competition.
The list can literally go on forever, this said if i did that you would be reading this for a while, so i will keep it short and snappy.

When a website is built for a business, it is created to serve a target audience, in a particular area of the world and its markets. Over the years this audience and these markets change, your website then becomes obsolete. Old, decreped, and in essence worthless. Your website will begin to look old and dated, and this is when your competiton take the lead with internet marketing and sales online, this is when you should have your site redesigned.

The decision to create a site for a company in the first place is a hard one, you need to talk to your clients, see if they would use it (if it had certain features) you should get a full indepth analysis of your company needs, and find out what your competitors websites look and feel like.

In both cases of getting a new website, or redesigning an existing site you should consider the following:
What is the purpose of the website?
Is the site informative or transactional (or both!)?
Are the visitors to your site likely to be IT savvy or not?
What are the competitors doing?
What features do you requires and which do you want?
(existing) How many visitors does your site currently have?
(existing) Do you have feedback from these visitors?
(existing) Are there usability issues?
(existing) Is content hard to find?
(existing) Do pages take too long to load?
Do you want control over the content or is it purely static?
What kind of navigation do you want?
What kind of design do you need and want?
How much do you want to spend?
Is there a deadline? (and if not make one!)
Sometimes it is important to realise that your site may not need a full redesign, you may have asked for some functionality which never worked or that has broke and no longer works. In this case you just need some tweaking, so just ask for this and not a full redesign.

All a visitor wants from your site is:
1. Find what they want easily
2. Get what they want easily
3. Easily perform the appropriate actions that you want the visitors to perform.

To accomplish this, the website needs to have:
1. An excellent navigation system.
2. The website should be user friendly. For example, does the website have a natural flow while placing an order or does it make it difficult for a visitor to handle this process.
3. The most important actions should be accessible within one or two clicks.