What’s driving your desire for a site redesign? Almost all businesses wonder at some point if making changes could result in additional leads. Next, there’s the concern that an outdated presentation is no longer aligned with the branding the firm wants to highlight.
Whether it’s generating more leads, cultivating the right leads, or brand alignment, a website revamp could be the answer. However, it’s not something you have the interns do or piecemeal together - it requires meticulous planning and website strategy. In contrast, it’s the kind of effort that should consume your full attention and involve meticulous planning as well as a design team.
Our Ultimate Guide to Website Redesign shows you a ten-step approach on how to do it right. Here’s a little taste of what you might expect.
1. Audit Your Website
Any effective website redesign has to begin by taking stock of how the site’s performing. If you have ever watched the home downsizing shows on TV, you know how the hosts make three piles. One is the keep pile. It’s for the things the homeowner can’t part with.
The second pile has to do with the things that go in the trash. The third pile is the maybe pile. It holds everything the homeowner cannot decide on at that moment.
Website Traffic Audit
Pile separation holds true for your website redesign project. Before you start this process you need to grade your website by running a full site audit. Some pages are doing awesome. These pages are getting plenty of traffic. You want to keep these intact for the time being.
Next, some pages don’t get many visitors. Please make a note of them. Find out what’s wrong. Is your focus keyword or topic misaligned to the content on page? (By the way, this could also be the reason why some pages are getting phenomenal traffic but don’t convert. It works both ways.)
Finally, some pages receive some traffic and convert reasonably well. These go into another pile. Later, you might consider tweaking the optimization to make the site more effective and reduce bounce rate.
2. Snoop on the Competition
There’s no shame in checking out what your closest competitors are doing on their websites. Of course, you don’t want to copy their designs. However, by learning from their websites’ setups, you might formulate some website redesign requirements for your own project.
Compare and contrast what they offer. You remember this exercise from high school. It’s tremendously useful for determining how you’re alike online and how you differ. Pay special attention to visually-gripping style elements.
- Online store. If your competitor has a nifty online store, you need one, too. You might set one up complete with shopping cart and account creation.
- Layout. Is your site unwieldy compared to your competitor’s layout? While it might be easy for an industry insider to navigate, it should be intuitive for someone who’s visiting your site for the first time.
- Price lists. Few companies like to list prices. Be the one that does. This idea is of particular importance if your competition is mum on the topic.
- Use of images. Look at the clipart your competition uses. Sometimes, there’s the same clipart on multiple pages. Maybe that’s what your site looks like. Differentiate yourself with unique graphics.
- Use of videos. If your competitors are using videos, and you aren’t, put them on your web redesign checklist.
3. Review Brand Guidelines and See how the Site Stacks Up
If your website is like so many others in your industry, pages have been added on occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with this practice. However, if someone without a clear understanding of the brand guidelines did the work, you might lack consistency. To avoid this problem it's best to ask website redesign questions to keep your project "on brand".
Brand consistency involves the color scheme, font use, and even button styles and colors. They must be the same throughout the different pages of your site. If even one page is off, it creates an unprofessional appearance that the consumer notices.
If you don’t have a clear brand guideline, it’s time to put one together now. Take your cues from the well-performing pages, current design trends and competion. Using design science, you can identify the brand styles, fonts, and colors that shoppers are not responding to very well.
4. Set a Schedule
Be realistic. Because you will be making changes to your company’s online persona, you can’t afford to have this project linger on someone’s back burner. At the same time, it’s not something you can rush. Anyone can throw together a website.
However, an excellent representation of your business takes a little longer. It’s not unusual for companies to allocate a couple of months for the process. If this sounds unrealistic, consider reducing the number of pages your site currently displays.
Savvy businesses choose to have the website redo coincide with a major event. For some, it’s the unveiling of a new product. For others, there’s a trade show that comes up. Still other companies make the winter shopping season onset their targeted date for the finished product to go live.
5. Define the Objectives
Which are the goals that you want to meet with the redesign? Narrow them down to a workable web redesign checklist. Each line item informs the project. If something the team does won’t meet any of the objectives you clarify, it doesn’t make it into the finished product.
A typical objective is to boost the conversion rate of a site that gets good traffic. Define the parameters of what you would consider a reasonable increase in the conversion rate. It’ll help the team plan and define the steps it needs to take to reach this goal with the site’s redesign.
If your site isn’t getting good traffic, conversion rates may not be the primary reason for the redesign. Your goal may be to get more traffic. This goal requires a different task definition for the team.
6. Know What Customers Look At
It’s called the buyer’s journey. It tells you where they entered the website, what pages they looked at, and how they navigated the site. If you don’t know what the consumer is looking for, it’ll be challenging to make the website experience of your website more user-friendly.
Of course, there are different ways of garnering this data. In most cases, you could just ask. After a sale, ask the consumer why they arrived at their buying decision. What was the catalyst that had them press the “checkout” button?
You might also ask for honest feedback on weak points. Were there pages that didn’t load or didn’t have the information that the customer thought they would display? This type of feedback is invaluable when you revamp the site.
Maybe something was missing. Because your customer had researched the product elsewhere, they could fill in the holes. However, you should plan to fill this type of hole quickly to keep the shopper on your site.
Some companies schedule testing of their sites before they go live. This is an expense that might be well worth undertaking. It’ll tip you off to problems with the website that the team hasn’t factored into the overall design process.
7. Content is King!
Have you ever visited a gorgeous website that had beautiful graphics, stellar button designs, and a fantastic sitemap? However, when you clicked on the various pages, the content was weak. Where you thought there should be ample copy, you might have found one or two sentences.
Today’s customer wants both; pretty graphics and tight content that answers questions. They’re not looking for flowery language. Visitors to your blog don’t care about what your team had for breakfast. Rather, they want to see case studies, product introductions, and user tips.
In short, they want your website to be a one-stop experience that answers questions and addresses concerns. By the way, differentiate content from sales collateral. The consumer isn’t interested in what you printed on your paper brochure for the trade show. They want to see actual answers to their questions.
8. Time for Layouts
You’ve established website redesign requirements. You did so with brand consistency in mind. Most importantly, you know what your customers want. The team should now be ready to translate these requirements into layouts.
Mind you, the layouts are not the final site. They are a way for you to see how branding is working across the site. Moreover, the pages that you identified as having the most traffic now inform the redesign of lower-performing pages.
You see the sum of its parts as the website takes shape. If you notice that your team is going off track, help them get back on track. Answer questions. Offer input. Pinpoint areas where you need to provide stronger directions.
Please take the opportunity to have real users beta-test the site before you publish it.
9. Beta-Testers Give the Final Approval
You love the new design that the team put together. Of course, you’re an industry insider. You might have a difficult time identifying gaps in the journey up the sales funnel. Therefore, bring in beta-testers.
These are actual users who’ll scroll through the pages of your newly redone site. What do they say? What’s the input? What’s the first impression they have of the site? How do they like it compared to your current website?
Don’t be surprised if some beta-testers give negative feedback. They don’t see what you see. Instead, they see your website through the eyes of someone who’s trying to understand a product or service. They’re figuring out how to navigate the site so it’ll answer their questions.
If there’s a disconnect, you need to find it now. After all, there’s no point in exchanging one site that doesn’t perform to its fullest potential with another that does the same thing. You may have to go back to the team to review the requirements. In some cases, there may be a knowledge gap.
10. Site Development
It took a while to get here. However, now is the time to develop the website using everything you’ve learned in the process. Now is when the computer gurus take over and follow SEO standards.
They optimize pages for search engines that will crawl them for indexing. They turn the layout pages that were developed into HTML code containing products. In short, the site is finally taking digital shape.
Developers will test and retest the compatibility with different browsers. After all, you don’t want to be the type of business that warns users to select one browser over another. Besides that, the developers should also optimize the site for the mobile user. A lot of your traffic is coming from this demographic now.
And you are ready to launch the site.
You’re Not Done Yet!
Wouldn’t it be great to kick back now and enjoy the fruits of your planning and final labor? However, that’s not the way it works. Remember step six? You worked hard to find out what the customers were looking at. Now’s the time to do the same thing with your new website.
Besides that, re-evaluate your content. Is it meeting the consumer’s needs? You might be noticing new content holes even as you fixed the old ones. That’s not unusual. Moreover, test different layouts with focus groups. Ideally, you’ll keep on testing and improving your site one page at a time.
Congratulations! You’ve Learned How to Redesign a Website!
If you consider this a labor-intensive process, you’re right. Similarly, it’s one that’s never entirely done. However, when you do it correctly, you should see improvements in your indicated parameters.
Go ahead and review this information in our Ultimate Guide to Website Redesign!