Is it OK to change website design?

Is it ok to change your website significantly? I do not have a huge reader base, but do not want to lose people by changing the web page. Has anyone done this or have opinions on it?

I am very new to this so I have posted a lot, I am just trying to get a feel for what people have done that works well. I have been reading a ton of forum posts here and have learned a bunch. Thank you all for the great information.

Page, as it stands, looks like this:

Early in the site's lifecycle is a better time to change format, theme, or layout than later. I recently changed the theme on my site to mostly positive feedback, but it was a pretty minor change overall. Ask your reader's for feedback on the new design if you're worried about it being too offputting, that way you can hopefully head off any major fallout there.

On an unrelated note, it should be "Post Schedule" in the sidebar, not "Schedual" ^_^

Hey thanks, good point on early rather than later. I will change the sidebar, I keep finding little mistakes like that, I must have changed and fixed little things a thousand time already.

I changed the site design of my old serial about four or five times over the eighteen months it ran, with no complaints. So long as you keep the content coming, I'm sure people won't mind. Well, unless you go for a retro Geocites design with flashing pink text on a starry background.

Dary, your site is awesome! I want something that wows people like that. I have bookmarked it, and will read it. It sounds very intriguing. Where did you get the art in the background?

I had to paint it myself, because I couldn't afford to pay a professional to do it for me XD

Wow, you have done an amazing job! Looks like I may just be using what I have, just minor tweaks to get it more appealing.

I don't think you'll necessarily lose people over a site design shift, as long as you have a reason for it (which is presumably to draw more people to your writing). And if people are particularly annoyed, they will likely say something. I've tried a bunch of tweaks, including having a thread here ("optimizing setup"), and none of it seems to have impacted readership - not that I have much of anything to impact. I know Jim Z, who writes "Legion of Nothing" (one of the longer runners) has made at least one or two alterations to his site over the last 6+ years, and I haven't noticed anyone want to leave due to that, granted from the perspective of a reader.

I keep a news page on my site to list all the little tweaks I make. If I ever overhaul the website or substantially change any functionality, I will keep that page and continue to list everything I've done.

My short answer is "yes." my long answer is "yes, but there will always be a risk involved because people who are used to the old way will be put off by the new way, at least for a little while."

Sometimes you just have to make a change. Not everyone can be good at web design, and it's pretty easy to choose a design or theme because you think it looks good only to find out that the design confuses visitors, or is hard to read, or is hard to maintain. Learning that usually means finding a way to change the site to fix the problem.

In other cases you might learn that a new technology has rendered your site design obsolete, or at the very least in need of updating to accommodate it. I went through a massive site overhaul to make it more compatible with smart phones. I still need to fix the default fiction page, even now.