There are so many reasons for deciding to redesign your website. Maybe your brand is looking a little less than crisp or competitor sites are beginning to look more attractive than yours.
Analytics may show visitors are bouncing off pages or you need the site to be more visually aligned with your updated new look. Navigation may need improving as well as on-site SEO.
Add in the need to make the user experience (UX) more engaging and memorable and it seems like a good idea. That is until you get down to the tough job of planning the redesign and working out how you are going to execute your ideas.
Here are just a few things that could make your project more complicated:
- Hard-to-hit deadlines – you may need your website ASAP but be realistic. Give your designer time to do his job properly.
- Managing the project – choose a web designer that won’t just do the work but will manage the project too. You will still need to be involved but should not find your resources so overstretched.
- Not being able to agree – if there are several departments involved as well as management, try to get to a stage where you all agree on what you want. You cannot move forward until a consensus of opinion is reached.
With that taken care of, the aim of this guide is to provide you with all of the necessary information to enable your project to be successful. Follow these 10 steps and avoid making the mistakes of others that have gone before you:
1. Know your audience
You need to know who you are redesigning your website for.
Look at the forensics obtained from your current website users. Try and build a customer avatar i.e. an accurate profile of both your current customer and the ideal one. What are visitors doing on your website (what pages are visited, how long do they stay, what paths do they follow etc.?
Do they visit at certain times of the day? Check out their physical location and device being used. Now look at who you need to be on your website that isn’t there at the moment. What do you need to do to your site to make sure they find you?
Concentrate on the audience that is essential to your success, whether they are totally new clients or old ones that need resurrecting.
2. Set clear goals
Make your goals clear and simple. For example, a call-to-action on each page makes it easy for visitors to make a decision and contact you. Ensure that you are communicating well, showing off your new offerings or testimonials. Look at your photography and see if it needs a revamp.
3. Build a sitemap
You don’t need to be a technical whizz to do this. Draw a simple flow chart or use PowerPoint. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you and your web designer can understand it. Look at your current site map and decide what needs changing.
Are your current services/products clearly shown? Do all pages have clear headings? Decide if any new pages need to be added in or old ones removed.
4. Keep design and content separate
If you mix up the two, everyone will become confused. Design and content have to work together but are two separate elements. Your web designer will focus on the design and then place the written content created by your copywriter. But both need a detailed brief.
5. Decide on a content strategy
Make it easy for your copywriter to work with you. Think about text for pages, blogs and any PDF documents that will be available for download. Your web designer will need to be able to add high quality pictures, videos, slideshows and social media feeds.
If you are adding blogs, how many do you need each month? Will you be sending out emails to website subscribers?
6. Set a budget
Be realistic but don’t over-stretch yourself. Ask your web designer to give you a price for the web design, development and web hosting. Other costs may involve the content writing, SEO and collection of images.
Either you or your web designer should be looking at other sites for ideas and deciding what sort of functionality you require. Be clear on this before you begin talking costs; if you are too vague then you may find your budget out of control later on.
Very importantly, don’t forget to cost in your own time in man-hours as you will need to get involved in the new project too.
7. Send out a Request for Proposal
By sending the same document to everyone, you should receive back pricing in the same format, enabling you to more easily compare. Remember that you get what you pay for, so don’t necessarily go for the lowest price. Look at previous work, guarantees, testimonials and reviews.
You can find how to write a website RFP here.
8. Decide who will get involved
If you are a sole trader, then the main man will be you. If you do have a team, decide who will do what tasks and delegate so that you can keep the business running.
You will definitely need an in-house project manager who will liaise with your chosen web designer. They will answer any questions and provide information, keeping other team members in the loop.
It is their responsibility to get each section of the project approved and signed off, avoiding costly delays.
9. Its beta testing time
Your website designer should have included time for testing the new site, but you should look at testing in-house too. Use the site as a customer would. Check out functionality and speed.
Does it look how you expected?
Make sure it is viewable on mobile and desktop. The design needs to be 100% responsive, able to be viewed on any size of screen. Test such things as outbound and inbound links and that images and text are in the right place.
When you fill in a form submission, does it work?
Also be sure that all social media is linked to the new website.
Your designer will also carry out A/B testing, creating two versions of a page, design or advert and seeing which converts more powerfully.
10. Launch time
Before going live, arm yourself with a marketing plan. Decide on how you will advertise the new site. Going forward, how often will marketing material such as blogs be added? Who will do the posting?
Get all new content carefully proofread as even small errors can spoil your image.
After launch, measure success. Keep track of performance of the new site, checking that it is working as you expected.
Getting your new company website redesign should never be rushed. Make your motto one of getting it right the first time.
As one of your key marketing tools, it will need looking after in order to stay relevant.
Don’t just get it out there and then sit back and think that it’s done.
Good website marketing never stops but by doing it the right way, the cost of your website redesign will more than pay for itself.