1. Things Have Gotten Messy
Blogs evolve over time and although your layout and navigation seem intuitive to you, you’ve also been looking at it every day. Furthermore, you’ve probably added new sections and ideas along the way, finding ways to fit the content in a design that might not support it. Since a blog’s core is its content, sometimes you need to clean up your existing design to make access to this content easier.
2. Your Brand Needs Refocusing
As noted, blogs tend to evolve with new ideas all the time. Furthermore, the goals you originally had for your site have either been reached or have drastically changed. Consider what your new goals are and change your site accordingly. Just make sure you plan for the next year, not just the next month.
3. The Community Needs Improving
Although the camaraderie among bloggers is strong, blogs in and of themselves aren’t really “communities” since only a tiny percentage of visitors ever participate in the comments. However, there is still great value amongst those who do choose to participate, so it’s always good to promote that. One method of promoting community started here are group advice posts. Another is adding robustness to your comment section, using features like avatars (we’re now using gravatars), comment threading, and email notification.
4. You’ve Ignored Your Own Advice
We bloggers can be quite didactic at times, listing out rules and reasons for various activities, including blogging. So depending on your topic, just make sure your blog is in line with the advice you dispense. If you’re a blogger who covers websites, you should probably have decent standards of XHTML and CSS. (Yes, that means we finally replaced the tables in the sidebar with CSS [although there are still other tasks that need attention]).
5. It Makes Business Sense
No need to beat around the bush…if you need a better layout for advertising or sales, then do it. Blogging can be quite the timely exercise, so if you can cover some time and expense, you should plan for it. Just do it in a tasteful way, remembering that you always need content and visitors first. There’s nothing shameful with making money (says this author who’s currently reading Atlas Shrugged).
6. The People Demand It
You should always file away suggestions the you’ve received from others. Chances are, your visitors are a bit more objective about your site than you are. So if people say that your navigation is confusing, then that means that your navigation is confusing. Your blog’s success is directly proportional to your visitors’ perception of it. Take their advice.
7. The Analytics Demand It
I would also suggest that occasionally, you check your visitor analytics and have a pretty good idea of where your traffic comes from, what they click on, and what pages they leave from. Although such data can be misinterpreted a hundred different ways, if there are obvious flags (like a high bounce rate or a low average visit time), you should try to address them with a new design.
8. You Really, Really Want To
It’s your blog, and if you really want to redesign it, then go for it. Although the objective reasons above should play a part in the decision, if you’re passionate about a redesign (or anything else for that matter), excellence often follows. Just don’t get carried away to the point that your content creation becomes secondary to your design creation.
And one last thing: it is inevitable that after any redesign, people will disagree with some of your design decisions. Listen well, but also remember that (hopefully) you’ve already spent many hours considering and testing many options. Don’t immediately start reverting changes unless you’re convinced by multiple voices or obvious analytics. Stay positive, enjoy any good or helpful feedback, listen to everyone, and then get back to creating content.