A well executed website redesign can have a major impact on a company’s online marketing and bottom line. But redesigning a website requires a lot more time and planning than many anticipate, especially to do it right and get the results you want.
Jumping in without proper planning could make your website redesign efforts futile. So don’t rush through the redesign process, instead commit the time and resources needed to ensure that every aspect of your website is strategically and meticulously planned and executed. Here are 9 steps that will help you in the process.
1. Determine if a redesign is necessary
Website redesigns typically necessitate a considerable investment of your budget and time. Like any marketing investment, you should make sure that there is a sound, strategic reason for doing it. So before committing to a website redesign, consider some of these valid reasons to move forward with a redesign:
• Not aligned with your current business strategy
• Not a good reflection of your brand
• Not generating enough traffic
• Difficult to navigate
• Cluttered and lacking content hierarchy
• Not mobile-friendly
• Not generating or converting enough leads into customers
• Poor CMS experience/not content managed
• Lacks an integrated company blog
• Lackluster web analytics
2. Evaluate your current website analytics
Before you even begin to think about redesigning your website, it’s necessary to spend some time evaluating your current website’s traffic and analytics history. In fact, your analytics should drive many decisions about your website as you move forward. Some of the metrics you should analyze include:
• Number of users
• Average time per session
• Average time on page
• Bounce rate
• Most visited pages
• Traffic sources
• Current SEO rankings for important keywords
• In-page analytics/click tracking
• Form submissions and downloads
• Number of leads
• Conversion rate
3. Assess your competition
You don’t need to be obsessive about your competition, but you should spend some time assessing their websites and performing a competitive review. What is good and bad about their websites? What are the areas that you can do it better or different than they do? Establishing benchmarks of your competition’s online presence is another good way to measure your own success.
4. Set specific goals for the website
Your website serves a purpose—to attract prospects and drive new business. Part of your goal setting should involve incorporating effective lead generation components throughout your website and putting conversion goals in place. Here are few questions to consider:
• What does success look like?
• What problems or issues are you trying to fix with a new site?
• What do you want visitors to know about the company?
• What do you want visitors to do when they visit the site?
• How can you attract visitors and convert them into leads?
• What can the website do to help shorten the sales cycle?
5. Select the right CMS
Many websites these days are built using a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to easily manage your content without the need for additional web development. But what should you look for when choosing a CMS? There are plenty of options to choose from, but you need to choose a CMS that works best for your website needs. Here are some key features to consider when selecting a CMS:
• Open-Source (e.g., WordPress) vs. Proprietary (e.g., ExpressionEngine)
• Intuitive user interface
• Robust editing interface
• Creative control and customization
• User roles and access limitations
• Clean, fast and SEO-friendly code
• Scalability / multi-site support
• Version / Revision Control
• Global change capabilities
• Availability of internal or external support resources
6. Establish an adequate budget
Making sure the website that you want to buy and the website that you can afford are aligned is a critical part of the planning process. To help prevent this, compile a list of all the pages, features and any other important aspects that you want your website to have BEFORE hiring a design firm. It would also be helpful to identify needs vs. wants and prioritize each as you establish your budget. It may mean that certain features or functionality that are not as critical out of the gate might need to be put off from the initial redesign and rolled out at later time.
It’s also important to understand that the budget you had for your last website (which could have been 5 years or more in some cases) may not be sufficient for today. The web has changed dramatically over the last decade, and things like responsive design, animation, ADA compliance, geotargeted content and advanced web applications all require significant time (and dollars) to implement. Additionally, a custom website is going to require a larger investment than something that is based on a pre-built theme or template.
7. Inventory your current website’s assets
Based on a close examination of your current website analytics, you will uncover valuable assets that should be incorporated into your redesign. These assets are the pages, blog posts and content that are driving traffic and contributing to your search engine rankings. So before you start from scratch, be sure to secure valuable assets and transfer them to your new website before launch.
8. Clarify design preferences
One of the worst things you can do going into a redesign project is to begin without having a clear preference for design styles and aesthetics. Do a thorough review of websites both inside and outside your industry, taking note of what you like and don’t like in regards to colors, styles, fonts, navigation, features, etc. Ultimately, you’re probably going to look to your web design partner to make design recommendations, but try to establish at least a basic vision of what you would like your new website to look like before conceptual design begins.
9. Choose the right digital agency / web design partner
The digital agency you select can have a tremendous impact (positive or negative) not only on your redesign project, but also on the success of your online marketing efforts. Because your website is first and foremost a strategic marketing tool, it’s important to chose a web design partner that understands marketing and has proven marketing experience—not just experience building websites.
Strategy, branding, messaging, content marketing, lead generation and online marketing savvy should all be boxes to check off in your evaluation. So look for a partner that has all the necessary skills and experience needed to design a good looking and technically-sound website that is focused on differentiating your business, driving traffic, generating leads and getting results.
Thorough planning is key
If you’ve determined that your company needs a new website, it’s important for you to take the time to thoroughly evaluate, plan and execute your website redesign project. When done properly you can save valuable resources and realize a positive return on your marketing investment.