Has it been a few years since the last time you redesigned your website? Is it time for an update? If your last website launch included one mishap after another, and you’re dreading going through that process again, we’re here to help you get started on the right track this time. Use these tips from Mambo to plan for a successful redesign, and feel confident that your new website will help to achieve your objectives.
Identify your goals for the update
The first step is to ask yourself why you are redesigning your website. Is it because you want a better mobile experience? Are you trying to generate additional sales or leads? Do you want to provide your audience with a more intuitive path when navigating the website? Answering these questions will help to inform the entire web design process.
Consider some of these common reasons to redesign your website:
–Mobile responsiveness. Not only will a mobile-friendly website rank better in search results, but mobile internet traffic has now surpassed desktop, making it imperative to have a website that is optimized for mobile users.
–Outdated branding. A good website design that incorporates engaging visuals and branding can legitimize your business online and build trust in your brand.
–Low conversion rates. If you’re not already tracking your website’s data, then you need to be! How are your visitors converting? Strategic calls-to-action (CTAs) will help generate leads or achieve your website’s other objectives.
–Confusing navigation. According to Forrester Research, half of potential sales are lost because users are unable to find the information that they want on a website. Improving your website navigation can improve user experience and reduce frustrations that often cause visitors to abandon your site.
–Search Engine Optimization. Take the steps necessary to ensure your site shows up in search and ranks competitively. Plus, SEO can have a positive influence on your bottom line.
You can build a good-looking website with lots of great imagery and interactive elements, but if it doesn’t effectively speak to your audiences, it’s probably not going to help you meet your goals. A well-planned website directly targets your brand’s personas and funnels them through the appropriate user journey.
Start by identifying your target audiences and developing clearly articulated personas. This will help to dictate user pathways and the information architecture of your site. Personas will also inform the content you develop to better address the pain points and needs of your audience.
Craft a comprehensive creative brief
Your web designer needs to know what you want your new site to look like and what goals you’re trying to achieve with the redesign. The more detail you can provide the better. Start by researching competitors and generating a list of aspirational sites for design or feature inspiration. Be sure to note the following for your team:
-What are your competitors doing that you would like to replicate or improve upon?
-What are they doing that you don’t like?
Also document all creative specifications such as fonts, styles, colors and any other general brand guidelines to assist your designer with creating your new website.
Assess your existing website
Evaluate how your current visitors are interacting with your site and engaging on social media. What pages, downloads, and content is most popular? Pinpoint what resources they are going to most frequently so that you can be sure to include those pages in the new design if they are relevant to your business goals.
It’s also a good idea to identify any challenges with your website’s user experience and user pathways so that you can fix them on the updated site. You can do this user research through Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Look for data related to navigation issues like high bounce rates or drop off rates.
Audit your existing incoming traffic
How are your visitors finding your current site? Are they coming from organic search, social media, or links from other websites? How can you retain that incoming traffic through those channels or increase it in the new website? Here’s a quick tip: Use 301 redirects to help preserve your organic ranking positions.
Understand your technical requirements
Websites are like automobiles. The bigger the truck, the better the engine needs to be to keep it moving efficiently. Similarly, with a bigger website, you’ll need powerful resources on the backend to keep it running smoothly.
Ask yourself these questions to assess your websites technical requirements:
-Do you have a large ecommerce website or a smaller lead generation site?
-How many people are currently visiting the site? How many pages are they viewing? Do you anticipate a major boost in traffic?
-What server platform are you currently using and what are the capabilities?
-What percent of the Central Processing Unit (CPU) are you currently using? Will that be sufficient for your needs in the future based on current or anticipated needs?
For a basic lead generation website, WordPress is typically a sufficient platform. It provides robust functionality to support content marketing, including downloadable resources and blog posts. It also allows you to design your website to move users through the different stages in the buyer’s journey.
Magento and Shopify are robust platforms that can handle advanced functionality needed for ecommerce sites. They typically provide a content platform, ecommerce platform, point of sales system, payment processing and security solutions.
Create a list of any third party tracking or ad platforms you need
Do you have any AdWords campaigns or paid media that uses java script tracking? If so, that means there are landing pages that will need to be changed. Also, double check that you have your Google Analytics ID!
Create a library of content and visual assets
Make sure your developer does a comprehensive crawl and audit of the website to understand where your current content resides. Tools like Screaming Frog can help to generate a sitemap for 301 redirects and htaccess files. Also, your developer should be prepared to support Google indexing post launch.
Additionally, keep an up-to-date library for all your visuals. Include images of your employees, high quality product photos, and other engaging imagery. Collect the specific visuals that you want to use on the website and organize them into different categories (i.e. general, product, staff, etc.) to ensure they get placed on the new site correctly.
Brand, product, or informational videos should also be included on your website. Make sure that any video assets you have or are planning to create are accounted for in the server requirements because videos can quickly use up your server space.
Make a wish list of features and functionality that you want
Lastly, make sure to note if there is anything specific you want your new website to do. For example, do you want to add an ecommerce section or do you want a slider on the home page? Articulating this upfront will make for a much smoother project because you can build this functionality into the initial website specifications. This will help to keep the project on time and on budget.