Redesigning a website can be overwhelming to say the least. It’s easy to fall into your comfort zone with the existing website because it’s familiar, it’s already in place and let’s face it, redesigning a website takes a lot of time and energy. But the return on your investment can make it all worthwhile.
There is a variety of reasons a company might decide to embark on a website redesign journey. Maybe your site is old and outdated? Or maybe the purpose or message of your site has changed. You can check out some more reasons for a website redesign here, but ultimately the reasoning for redesigning your website should be to A) achieve better results from your site and B) to better align with your target audience. However, it can be easy to lose the objective when you get consumed with content, color pallets, layouts, functionality, etc.
To make life easier for you initially, and ensure you have a productive, efficient web redesign experience, here are 12 steps to a website redesign strategy.
Step 1: Identify your goals
Starting a project without a clearly defined goal in mind is the best way to make sure your project crashes and burns. Identifying the end goal will help you plan your course of action and help you focus on what the most important actions are needed to achieve that goal. Are you simply looking for a fresh look to the site? Or do you need to better align your offerings with your target audience? Figuring out your goals up front puts the structure in place for the overall project and helps keep everyone on the same page.
Step 2: Budgets
Budgets can be tricky. You have an idea of what you want to spend, but your vision of the website may be a far cry from what you’re anticipating spending. The key here is to identify what is most important in your website. What is a need, and what is a want? There are many worksheets that you can use to help with budgeting for your website. The 80/20 rule can be a big help with this as well. Write a list of all the needs and wants for your new website. Then identify the top 20% of those that will generate 80% of the impact on the overall site. This will help you prioritize what is most important and what can be left out.
Another option for budget conscious projects is to look into a new and upcoming way to think about website redesign. Growth Driven Design focuses on building a small Launchpad site with just the main components of the redesign. Then over subsequent stages, additional pages and functionalities can be built out. This allows you to A) Have a new website up and running much faster than normal, and B) helps break up the cost of the design because you’re paying for each phase at a time instead of the whole project at once. There are a number of agencies that are adopting this new trend for web design. Find one that works best for you.
Step 3: Evaluate
You definitely want to get an idea of where your site is at currently. This will help you measure the effectiveness of your redesign and also help you identify important aspect that you may want to retain. Or abandon for that matter. Important metrics to take note of are
- Traffic – current average number of visits AND leads
- Keywords – what are their current ranks and what sort of traffic are each generating.
- Links – How many inbound and outbound links to other sites do you have? Are there some you’ll want to discontinue because they’re outdated or no longer active?
- Forms – What forms do you have currently and are there any that can be updated? What is the submission rate for each and what pages they appear on.
- Pages – Take note of the entire architecture of your site. Note all site and landing pages.
- Pro Tip: Take note of which pages have zero views. These can probably be left out of your redesign or reworked into a more active page.
Step 4: Check Out Your Competition
This is your opportunity to spring to the front of the pack. But you have to know where that pack is. Take a look at your competition. Evaluate as much information as you can from them like page ranks, site architecture, marketing methods, etc. See how their marketing efforts differ from yours and identify where you can improve.
Step 5: Expand on Goals
You probably had some overall objectives you set for the project in step one. Now it’s time to really dive in and flush out some SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely goals are structured to actually measure the effectiveness of your efforts. These goals will serve as benchmarks that you can start tracking against once the new site is live. Having these ready to communicate to your designer will help them structure the design around the main objectives you’ll be tracking.
Step 6: Buyer Personas
If you already have buyer personas created, then it’s time to take another look at them. Evaluate if they are still targeted and relevant to the current state of the business. If your messaging has changed you might need to change the target personas. If you don’t have personas already created, utilize a Buyer Persona Development Worksheet to help develop ones that take your upcoming redesign into consideration.
Step 7: Inventory
This is going to be the most tedious part of your preparation, but well worth it. If your company’s website is 10 years old with upwards of 100 pages and offers from 2007, you’ll need to go through and toss out the trash. Don’t keep anything that isn’t relevant to your present and future state of the company. When you move houses you don’t take everything with you do you? Same goes for websites. Use this as a time to clean up and organize what is most important and should come with you to your new house (website).
Step 8: Sitemaps
A sitemap is a rough document that details each page of the site and how it is linked to all of the other parts of your site. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You can jot it down on a cocktail napkin or flush it out in full glory with PowerPoint or some other service. This allows you to organize your content and start to develop which pages will be needed on the new site. Utilizing services such as Jumpchart, you can easily create a sitemap as well as organize content on the pages. This allows you to have a professional way to present your content to your designer/developer agency.
Step 9: Assets
If you want to be your new designer and developer’s best friend, you’ll take the time to gather all of your current company assets together. Nothing makes life easier for developers than to have all the source files and imagery they need to do their job. Will your current branding/colors/logos/imagery stick with you on the new site or will they all be updated as well? Some of the most important assets to gather before you start your project are:
- Logo – Any source files you have (.png, .jpg, .ai, .eps, .psd)
- Imagery – if you have any imagery you’ll want to include you’ll want to be sure to have it all in one place.
- Content – Having the content can help the designers plan out the pages more efficiently from the get-go. Organizing the pages into word docs will make it easy to present your content to your designer.
- Purchased Assets – If you have any stock photos, fonts, 3rd party functionality, etc., you’ll want to have all this together so your designer can incorporate into the new site.
Step 10: Creative Meeting
Share your efforts with the designer to make sure you are both aligned on what the goals, objectives and process of the website redesign are. Be sure to include all potential offers or premium content you want to use on the new site. Gather feedback. The more you can provide to your designer the better. Examples of work, example sites or any visual cues you can provide will help the end result better align with your vision.
Step 11: Get Ready to Tell the World
Chances are you have an existing network or customer base. The last thing you want is for all your hard work ending up with your business losing customers. That’s why it’s important to let your current, past and potential customers know you’re going through a change. Especially if your branding is changing, you’ll want to make sure no potential customers are confused by the switch. You can promote as much as you think is appropriate. Emailing your subscriber lists, promoting the new site on social media or even writing a blog post like we did for The Chopping Block. Make sure you are promoting in ways that will align with your buyer personas
Step 12: Evaluate
After it’s all said and done, analyze, analyze, analyze! Now is the time to see if all your efforts have paid off. How are your keywords performing? Are you seeing any impact on your traffic/leads/conversions? It’s good to note when the launch of the new site happened and then set milestones after 1 month, 3 months and 6 months. Ideally you’ll want to surpass your previous benchmarks within 6 months or so. (Could be more for larger more established companies) But if you notice something is off, maybe a page isn’t performing as well or you’re not converting like you thought you would. If this is the case, identify the cause and make adjustments as needed.
All in all, a website redesign doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Having a clearly defined vision and doing your homework can help make all the difference in the world. Choosing a credible agency that will work with you is important to the overall success of the project as well. Once you’ve found your match, having all of your resources in order and having done the legwork beforehand, will ensure your project kicks off with a bang and is smooth sailing until you have your new website ready to blow people away.
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