Website Redesign Strategy
These 3 words can be a bit daunting even for the most savvy marketer.
When properly executed, a website redesign can further enhance the experience potential customers have on your site and transform it into an extremely effective sales tool.
When poorly executed, this process can quickly cause more problems and actually hinder your best marketing efforts, it can cost your organization important time, effort, and eventually wind up doing more damage to your marketing campaign.
So while there are some risks involved, with careful planning you can avoid all the pitfalls that can come with the undertaking.
Through careful preparation, a bit of research, and a lot of planning, you can make your website redesign strategy an enormous success.
The primary purpose of this website redesign strategy checklist is to assist with laying out the groundwork for you and your team.
Effectively redesigning your website is a tall task, so let’s discuss some reasons regarding how to know if its time for a website overhaul.
How do you know it is time for a website redesign?
Prior to putting significant organization assets into a redesign of your companies website, you really want to ensure you are designing your site for the right reasons. While there are a ton of valid justifications to update your site, there are additionally a great deal of awful ones.
Things such as “ Well it is just time, our site is old” or perhaps, “Well the competition just rebuilt their website” may not be the best reasons for a redesign.
Assuming your site adequately draws in customers and converts them into viable leads, theres no good excuse to update it. As the saying goes…If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If your website analytics are showing you traffic and you are tracking leads, that is great, if you have none of that in place however, you certainly should.
Things you should be asking about your current website:
- Is our site currently mobile friendly and optimized for mobile?
- Have our business objectives changed since we last changed our website?
- Is our branding on our present site on point?
- Does our site work and function as intended?
- Are we tracking lead conversion on the current website?
In answering some of these questions, you should have a good indication of whether or not a website redesign is necessary.
(Answering these questions can also help layout the groundwork for when it comes time to set your goals for a proper website redesign strategy)
If these answers lead you to the conclusion it is time for a redesign of your current website then please proceed to look over the essential steps involved with setting yourself up for success.
Appoint a person or dedicated team
Prior to discussions around website redesigns, you will find it very beneficial to appoint a specific person or team of people that will oversee the project.
Without this important detail resolved prior to a project such as this, you can quickly get hung up on on who is making decisions and therefore slow the process down significantly. The primary individual or individuals should have the ability to make decisions for or represent different departments within the company in order to make moves quickly and efficiently.
With a team you can get a variety of unique opinions and perspectives, however, too many opinions will potentially slow things to a crawl, so putting the right people in place for this task is important. Even within a team, a team leader should be appointed in order to resolve potential issues quickly. The leader of the group should have the final word in approvals and decisions in order to keep the project moving forward.
Should I audit my current website?
One of the most important steps you can take prior to starting a website redesign is taking a full audit of your current website. An website audit gives you the ability to see what is currently working on the website and what needs attention.
An audit of the current website should include:
Assessing the performance of your current website
Building a sitemap or reviewing a current sitemap of the existing website is a good way to break apart the different components or pages of website in order to gauge what is working and what is not working.
By looking into current site traffic, conversions, and so on you’ll have the option to see what pages users view as helpful, what pages may be missing, and what pages you can eliminate. This will also prove to be useful later on when its time to buildout the sitemap on your new site.
Perform a SEO audit of your site
A SEO audit provides a complete assessment of your website optimization practices and looks into how well your web pages are set up to perform.
The objective of conducting this sort of review is to find any problems that might be hampering your search engine optimization. This is an important step since you want to identify potential issues prior to building something new in order to help maximize your efforts.
Make sure to track all issues you come across as it will come in very handy later when it is time to create the game plan for the redesign.
Look at the current content on the existing website
Quite a few companies tend to continue to make their website content all about them and their achievements. A lot of content will talk about how excellent the company is and why they are different from their competitors. The truth is people are searching for a solution to their problem. A websites content needs to express how their company can help provide a solution to this problem.
Think about a patient going to the doctor, imagine how helpful it is for the doctor to simply talk about how great he is, and how he is better than the other doctors. You came to him/her for a solution to a particular issue. You want the doctor that provides relief, that answers the pain. You want a solution.
Does your company provide a solution, does it solve a potential customers problem?
Understand the journey of your customer
Much like the purchaser’s journey, a customer’s journey charts the various stages a client goes through on their way to making a purchase, zeroing in on the various activities and feelings somebody might have in each stage.
Getting an idea of what the client is searching for, what questions they have, and how they’ll search for it on your site while deciding to buy is simply the best way to truly put yourself in a good position.
It is beneficial to ask yourself if there are any pitfalls or holes in the customer journey, is there something that is going to get in the way of a potential customer actually becoming a customer.
There are a couple of ways you can go about getting the response to this. One way, for instance, is by interviewing a customer and asking them about their experience.
What caused you to choose to buy a certain good or service? Did anything on the site disappoint you? Did you find it easy to navigate the website?
At the end of the day, it is important to remove any potential frustrations or pitfalls for your potential customers on their way to becoming an actual customer. The goal is to make their path as easy as possible to get what they need, to solve their problem as quickly and easily as possible in order to see real results.
Is it important to set project goals for a website redesign?
Since we have already discussed that there is a definitive reason that you need to revamp your current website, now it is time to jump into those reasons and start to set up some very specific objectives to achieve a successful redesign.
Since a good deal of time and resources go into a website redesign, it is imperative to know that it will be successful. To that end, setting some achievable and realistic goals for your project to reference later will help with that.
In view of what you found during your website audit, you ought to have a good idea of where your site needs improvement. This is a decent spot to begin for creating your objectives.
For instance, perhaps you saw that your present site has a constant flow of traffic, yet the leads are not coming in. In view of this finding, you might lay out an objective of improving your conversions by 2-3% within the next 6 months.
Be that as it may, information alone doesn’t consistently give us the whole story. Its additionally important to get additional input from your team. You can send out a questionnaire to various team members in order to get other perspectives.
It is also important to ask the big questions around a redesign of a website such as:
– What is the primary purpose behind a website redesign?
– What is your #1 objective for the website?
- What are the main things you would like a potential customer to have the option to do on your site?
These answers will greatly assist in helping us understand what specific needs are required to be met on a specific website redesign strategy.
The objectives you set for the project ought to be communicated to the whole group so that everyone is on the same page while the website is being planned out, designed and executed.
How can I define my website redesign strategy?
Now that you have a good idea of how your current website is performing along with the newly established goals, you are ready to begin to build your strategy that will help you achieve these goals.
Here are some things your website redesign strategy should include:
A new sitemap
During the audit of your current website, you in all likelihood found a few pages that performed all around well, some that nobody visited, and others that you have no clue about where they even came from. Your new sitemap is your opportunity to rearrange your current pages, erase old ones, and include new ones you may be missing.
It helps to have a visual representation of the hierarchy of how the pages will be laid out.
The user flow helps to map out what specific actions a potential customer would ideally take to get from initial browsing to becoming a paying customer. Properly laying out an ideal user flow can assist with starting to really see how potential customers will use your website.
Once you have a plan in place to see how somebody interacts with your website, you will start to see ways to optimize different parts of the process. It is fine to start with a simple process first and once you are able to live with the new website you will be able to collect more information and make adjustments as needs or opportunities arise.
Keyword research is a critical step in properly optimizing your new website for search and acquiring information concerning what your guests are searching for.
When you can know the actual terms your ideal customers search, you can utilize those same exact terms when you’re composing your websites content. Having this information not only helps your website rank better in the search engines but also allows you to establish yourself as the expert in your industry.
Why should I set up a project timeline for my website redesign?
Once you have put a plan in place for how you will accomplish your projects objectives, you will need to establish a realistic timeline in which to do it. The important thing here is the part about being realistic in your endeavors.
A remarkable website can take a good amount of time to create and implement. You do not want to rush things along and inadvertently create more problems with rushed deadlines or, on the other hand, you don’t want to push things out too far so that it ends up getting pushed aside.
There really is no set answer for developing a new website and how long exactly it will take. A great deal of it relies upon the size of your site, how many pages and how much content is being moved from the old site or how much content needs to be written for the new website. It is also important to note that the feedback from your team should be given in a timely manner. Lots of website redesign projects stretch out for many months simply due to poor communication.
When the ideal deadline is made, it is highly beneficial to break it up into milestones so that you are able to track the progress of the redesign.
It is always good to track the progress of the website redesign in comparison to the deadline that was set forth, however, changes and work flows can adjust and shift so always leave space to readjust deadlines if it is needed.
Review and update (or create) your image style guide
Your company’s branding is very important, therefore it is important to establish branding guidelines. The best way to do that is to create a brand style guide.
Your brand is what customers and potential customers alike think of when your company name comes up and they see your logo. It is how you represent yourself visually and shows who you are as a company.
A good brand style guide allows your company to represent itself in a consistent manner. It helps you figure out how you want to present your company and makes sure your marketing and advertising all lines up with your intended message. It simply sets up guidelines that makes sure everyone is on the same page as far as your branding is concerned.
It is very important that your company’s branding is established and up to date when before you start collecting information and pushing into design aspects.
There are two primary aspects of a brand style guide that you will want to ensure are up-to-date and precise. Your Content and Visual styles.
Content style guide
A content style guide is essentially set of guidelines that document the rules and break of your company is, how you relate to your customers and how your message is expressed through your websites content.
A content style guide can include things like:
- Brand character attributes
- Brand-specific guidelines, ideas, and preferences in regard to content
- Editorial rules such as grammar, spelling, etc
Visual style guide
A visual style guide will layout the specifics of your brand, elements like:
- Logo usage
- Color palette
While assessing your visual style guide consider how every component lines up with your company’s current brand to ensure consistency.
After you have finalized your messaging and visual strategy, it is time to begin looking into some design options for your new website.
Design inspiration and looking at your competitors
Now that you have established a direction it is time to consider the look and feel of your new website.
One thing you can do is simply go take a look at what some of your competitors are doing. It is also beneficial to check out some website from people in your industry but not in your area. This is a good way to get an idea of some industry standards as well as ways to see how you can set yourself apart.
Once you have had time to review these assets, you can bring them to you team and discuss what visual styles you want to include and even those you don’t. This is helpful so that the entire team is on the same page on the overall direction of the redesign and to simultaneously ensure everything aligns with the overall website objectives.
When looking for inspiration it can be helpful to ask questions like:
- How do we want our visitors to feel when viewing our website?
- Do we need new features and functionality in the new website?
- What sorts of imagery and designs would be best help tell your story?
When you begin to gather assets of different elements you like be sure to save these somewhere you can quickly reference. It would be a good idea to create a mood board or a visual story board to be able to share with the team.
A mood board or visual storyboard is essentially a collage of various images and text that can help visually explain the overall direction you looking to take with your new website design.
There are a lot of resources online that you can take advantage of when putting your boards together. You can opt to use free resources like Canva, Pinterest, and Google or you can up the game and pay for a more premium option using paid tools.
You can use either method or use whatever resources you have available, just be sure to document and save the inspirational elements you are putting together.
What is the best way create content for my website redesign?
It seems that one of the most difficult parts of the website redesign process is coming up with content BEFORE diving into design.
It is easier for teams to go right to the design portion of the process so they can see easier what there work so far will look like, plus it is kind of the most fun part of the project, to be able to finally visualize and see the designs they have helped create.
It is easy to think that it would just be simpler to write the website content after the design has been created.
This would be wrong.
This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes people tend to walk themselves into when moving through a website redesign process. While design is extremely important, the content, the message is ultimately the core of this process. Attempting to retrofit website copy into a design that is already created rarely lines up the way it should and generally forces people into unexpected design revisions or having to sacrifice the quality of the content that was created.
It is the content that should ALWAYS dictate the actual layout of the new website. The design aspect is what is intended to enhance your message and bring it to life, not the other way around.
For a lot of people, going the design first route seems easier because they may not know exactly where to start and it would seem like having a design in place will help with that. Well, typically it does not and can cause more issues than intended.
Fortunately, there is a better way.
One of the best things to do is grab your new sitemap you created for the website redesign and begin to look at it from a top-down approach to see which pages you need content for and start by breaking down each of those pages into small groups or categories and simply work on one page or section at a time.
Once you have organized your pages into manageable groups, you should start by creating wireframes for each one so that you can see exactly what information and content needs to go with each page or section. This allows you to focus on the story you are creating for each page and allow you to more easily pull everything together in a cohesive manner.
While you are creating your content be sure you are always able to find opportunities to not only educate your potential customers but also, and more importantly, answer their questions and provide a solution for their problem.
A good idea for making sure you are properly educating your visitors is to seek out the top 5-15 questions people are asking about a particular product or service and make sure you are adequately answering those questions in the various pages of your newly designed website.
Try to find ways to include these things into your content:
- Social proof like testimonials, reviews and case studies
- Press Releases, whitepapers, and buying guides
Keep in mind that if and when you are tempted to move forward with the design-first approach over the content-first approach, realize that while you tend to capture peoples initial interest with good design, in the end it is the message and engaging content that will hold that attention and get them to stay longer and therefore increase your chances of turning them from prospect to customer.
This is the fun part, particularly if you enjoy the design process. This is where you finally get to begin to implement your weeks of planning to start to see the new website design come together visually.
While it can be tempting to to jump in and start designing all the pages, it is best once again, to break things up and start with a single page to make sure you initial vision is playing out. This is also a good time to get feedback from the team and make sure everyone is on board with the direction.
The best way to begin is to continue the use of wireframes, with these you simply use a black and white design, maybe throw in some grays to get your contrast in order to begin to see what headers will look like and where they will go, layout your CTA’s (Call to Action) and layout your pre-written content. Using wireframes will allow you to stay focused on building out your page with the content you have and combining it with design elements in order to get things heading in the right direction.
When it is time for full color design with imagery and everything else, It is recommended to start with the homepage, this will allow you to set the stage for the overall look and feel of the site. Break it up into sections working from the top header on down the page, then bring it to the team for feedback and approval.
This process will allow you to save time and money by getting the design right the first time prior to moving on to development. Once you are all in agreement on the overall design direction you can begin working on the rest of your pages, one by one, getting feedback along the way.
Develop your site
The development stage is ready to begin once approval of the design has been received. This is the where the site is ready to go and looking to be developed into functional new website. While it can take some time to get to this stage it is important not to rush this part. The development is where you begin to get the ability to navigate the actual website, make sure buttons are going to the right places and any additional functionality elements are working as intended. This is where static images are turning into code, typically HTML & CSS, along with PHP and other website development languages. This is where the new website begins to come alive.
You should allow of ample time to be given to the development portion, it is always recommended to have a development test site setup in a place where people can view progress live and see how things are shaping up. It is always important to test the for cross-browser compatibility to make sure all users are getting the same experience. That way you know that no matter what browser is being used, the new website will be displayed as designed and you’ll know everybody is getting the fully optimized website viewing experience.
It is equally, if not more important, to make sure the website is being tested using mobile devices. In today’s world on average 50% of users will be likely be viewing your website from a mobile device. This of course depends heavily on your market and target audience, but by now we all know people tend to use their phones a great deal for browsing the internet.
Launch your new site!
At last! This is where all your months of website audits, planning, designing and developing finally come together and the project is brought to life!
Prior to to launching the new site, you want to make sure you have gone through all the proper pre-flight checks with the development site. You want to click through all the pages, make sure everything is operational and functioning as it was intended. Here are some things to look for prior to launch:
- Find any broken links
- Ensuring your 301 redirects are correctly setup
- Verifying your meta descriptions and title tags are properly setup for each page
- Look for broken or missing images
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors
By double and triple checking all these items you will save yourself time and money by avoiding the frustrations of last minute issues post-launch. It will also ensure a nice smooth transition for your visitors from the the old site to the new site.
Once you are certain all your ducks are in a row, go ahead and launch that new website!
After you launch the new website you will still want people to review everything as a final precaution, just to make sure nothing was lost in transition, which is a possibly when you are working with project like a website redesign, there are a lot of technical moving parts so follow up is always good.
Your done now right? Nope.
Now that your new website is launched you can move along to other things right? If you want to maintain an engaging web presence and continue to bring in new leads and develop a consistent following then no, you will want to continue to improve and grow your website and social media presence through digital marketing and SEO.
You can and should continue to work with your team to plan some experiments and test different layouts, see how they work, strive to improve results. First focus on your primary product or service, work on achieving the goals you laid out in the beginning.
The key to success is in the details
While it is not always easy to follow a process like this perfectly, this list will give you a good outline to begin your project. Things like time constraints and tight deadlines can always interfere with a perfectly laid out plan, just be ready to shift and adjust as needed and you should still be able to create your new website successfully and create an online sales tool that will generate traffic and convert leads.
As you launch into a project like this, keep in mind, the first step is to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and you allocate an appropriate amount of planning and preparation in order to see your project succeed.
Equally as important with any website redesign strategy, make sure you utilize all your assets, set your goals and objectives, and have a process in place to track those goals to confirm your project is set up for success. If you would like to learn more about how Firelight Interactive can help you with your website redesign strategy, click here.