By now many businesses have a first website and are looking at re-designing it. There can be many reasons for this re-design: to make it more up to date, to add more content, to rank better in the search engines, to fix errors discovered in the first site and to increases it’s overall success.
A website re-design is also a perfect opportunity for you to analyse what works and what doesn’t on your current website and to make changes that will boost your site’s overall performance.
If you are considering re-designing your site the following article can help you plan the project to ensure the re-design is a success. I recommend that the re-design be done in two parts:
- Review the performance of your current website.
- Use this information to help you and your web designer plan your new website.
Review the Performance of Your Current Website
To start it’s a good idea to review the performance of your current website. Discovering what is working and what is letting you down will help you determine what you need to keep from your existing website and what areas will need improving.
Review the Look and Feel of Existing Website
Depending how long ago your current website was created it may be looking tired and outdated. There are two issues to consider:
- Has your businesses identity changed and if so does this need to be reflected in your new website?
- Has the website used online design trends that are now outdated? A note here: design trends move fast on the internet. As nice as it is to have a website with the latest online design trends it’s more important to ensure the website’s look can be usable for more than just the next trend.
In most cases an updated, fresh look and feel is a good place to start in a website re-design.
Review Your Current Site’s Usability
The usability of your website is vital to it’s success. If you prospective customers can’t use it they’re hardly going to buy from you. Take a look at your current website and ask yourself how easy is to use. Questions to ask yourselves:
- Can I quickly see who this company is and what they offer?
- Is it easy to find what I am looking for?
- Does the website structure and navigation make sense?
- Is the website easy to read?
- Does it compel me to take the next step (place an order, make an enquiry, subscribe etc)?
- Are order forms easy to use?
It might also be worthwhile to spend some time watching other people (friends, family, clients) use the site and ask for their feedback.
All this information will help you and your web designer plan the website structure and content of your new website.
Review Traffic and Conversions
What is your current website’s traffic like? How many visitors do you get a day? How many pages do they look at? How many visitors convert into customers or subscribers? What are your most popular pages and your least popular pages? Where do your visitors come from?
All of this information will help you decide what pages are vital in your new website, what can be left off and what pages need improving. It can also help you determine if you are maximising the amount of visitors and sales you are getting. If your traffic figures are low it is good to discuss tactics to increase these visitors with your web designer. If you are getting a decent amount of traffic and no sales this also needs to be addressed.
Review Search Engine Rankings
If your website is currently ranking in the search engines it is vital that you make a note of what pages are ranking and for what keyword phrases. You need to share this information with your web designer and make sure that these rankings are not lost in your re-design. Any good web designer will be happy to discuss this with you and take it as seriously as you do.
If you are not ranking in the search engines this needs to be addressed in your re-design.
Review Current Website Hosting
Ask yourself how happy you are with your current website hosting provider. Things to consider include: the service you receive, how often the website goes down, the response times when there’s a problem and the speed of your website, ie how long does it take for your website to come up in a web browser.
If you’ve found your hosting provider to be good it might be best to stay where you are. However if you have had problems discuss this with your web designer who can help you find a better alternative.
Planning Your Re-Design
All of the above will provide you and your web designer with a lot of valuable information that can be taken into account when re-designing your website. I recommend breaking your website re-design down into 6 stages:
- Redefine Your Online Goals
- Finalise The Website Structure
- Develop Your SEO Strategy
- Define Your New Look & Feel
- Prepare New Website Content
- Develop Your Website
Redefine Your Online Goals
This is a good opportunity to redefine your online goals. Are they the same as before or are there some changes? These goals can include:
- Selling online
- Promoting your brand
- Generating leads
- Earning advertising revenue
- Cutting costs
The goals you set will help you and your web designer decide how to best approach your website design.
Finalise The Website Structure
The website structure is the blueprint of your new website. It defines each section and page of your website.
This structure should take into account your website goals and the performance of the pages on your current website. I strongly recommend you work with your web designer to finalise this structure. Their expertise can help ensure your website is laid out in a logical, usable way to maximise the return on your investment (ROI).
These days many people want to be able to update the content of their website themselves using a Content Management System (CMS). If this is something you are interested in now is a good time to discuss this with your web designer.
Develop Your SEO Strategy
You’ll want to make sure your re-design does not loose all your current search engine rankings and also look at how you can improve your search engine strategy. For example is there a new product or service you’d like to promote that is not on your current website?
It is important to remember that not all web designers are skilled at optimising websites for the search engines. It’s really important you find a company that can do this, or find a search engine optimisation company who will work with your web designer to ensure your new website is search engine friendly.
Define Your New Look & Feel
The first step in defining the look and feel of your website is to ensure that your new website has the same look and feel (or branding) as your existing marketing materials. It’s always a good idea to provide these to your web designer so they can get a feel for your businesses identity. You may also want to give your web designer a list of websites you like and dislike to help give them an idea of your tastes.
This is also a good time to talk about the longevity of your website and how often you feel you will want to make it over. If you want to ensure the website has a long life it would be best to avoid design the website using the latest online design trends and go for a look that is more timeless.
Prepare New Website Content
Once you’ve defined your website strategy and structure you’ll need to create the content for your site. This content can be created by you by a website copywriter or your web designer (if they offer this service). Again, use the feedback from your current website to ensure that this content is suited to your customers, is compelling and engaging and supports your online goals.
Developing Your Website
Once you have completed the first five steps it’s time to build your website. By this time you and your web designer should have a clear idea of what your site’s goals are, how they can be achieved and the steps required to fulfil them.
Putting It All Together
A website re-design is an excellent opportunity to capitalise on the success of your current website and to rectify any mistakes that were made. It’s also a great time to listen to your customers and build a website with features that will encourage them , and new customers, to come back time and time again.