7 Step Guide to Redesigning Your Website
The motivation behind redesigning a website is very simple – your website is not achieving what you want it to. There are a lot of factors at play here. You might be getting pressure from upper management on using social media. You might be fielding complaints from sales on delivering leads. You might even be staring at your own website and realizing you don’t have a content management system (CMS) that allows you to update content. If those don’t sound familiar, how about some of the reasons below?
- Your website is not search-engine friendly – i.e your customers can’t find you online
- You aren’t collecting data from your visitors
- You don’t know how your website is actually performing
- Your content is out-of-date and dissuading
- You’ve re-branded and need your website to align with the changes
- Your website isn’t aligned with your sales strategy or business goals
- Your website doesn’t display properly in all web browsers or mobile
No matter what your reason is, as a marketer you know that you should be delivering more value to your sales team, your customers, and to your prospects. And that should be the driving force behind any website project.
Not sure if you need a redesign just yet?
Assess your current website with our Website Redesign Checklist.
Did you know that the average website needs to be redesigned every 4 years in order to keep up with the changes in technology and user experience?
If you are reading this, you might have reached that tipping point. Either way, it’s important to note that your next website build should be prepared to accommodate that. Not every website project needs to be a complete upheaval, but if you fail to build the proper platform and infrastructure today, you’ll have a lot more work to do when you embark on your next iteration. This is why we have put together a quick guide on how to make the most out of your upcoming website design. It will help position you for a better return on your investment and success in the long term.
Understand the Components of a Website Redesign
Before you go down the rabbit hole of redesign, it’s a good idea to get an understanding of what you’re in for. The website redesign structure is generally the same for any size project, however it all depends on what your starting point is and what your goals are. A project scope is vastly different when you factor in website complexity such as eCommerce or marketing automation. To give you a better understanding of what this process looks like, we have laid out 7 steps to a successful redesign.
Step 1: Strategy
After your company has decided they want to revamp their website, the first step is to work with all of the key stakeholders (CEO, Sales, IT) to set expectations and determine your goals. In order to do that, you need to benchmark your current metrics to get a better idea of where you are starting from. In this stage, you will be able to fill in some gaps that are missing on your current website, while identifying the main issues. You could discover that your sales team is not getting enough high quality leads to keep their pipeline full. This could be a result of your current websites misalignment with your buyers needs. In this scenario, you would consider integrating strategies to attract more qualified leads, including:
- Better content engagement through an inbound marketing strategy
- Implement lead capture and nurturing using a marketing automation software solution
- Improve website performance with an SEO and keyword strategy
Now you know who is involved, what your goal is, and have a general idea of what functionality you require, it’s time to get planning.
Step 2: Plan
Planning is one of the more time-consuming steps, but for a good reason: a redesign needs to be seamless. You already have existing website traffic with search engine rankings and page content that could be performing well, so if you decide to swap out the old for a completely brand new site, you could lose everything (i.e. your domain credability). The other side of the coin is that most redesigns aren’t just about the facelift. In order to stay modern and relevant and meet your overarching goals, your website functionality and technology needs to enable you to attract, engage, acquire, and retain. This planning process is where you determine site architecture, platform considerations, hosting and security, URL/site redirect mapping, asset migration, content planning, and any technology additions. All of these areas will depend on your business and what is the best fit.
Step 3: Design
Once you have your strategy and plan in place, it’s up to your designer(s) to visualize what the user experience (UX) and user interface design (UI) will look like. Their focus is on building a responsive website that is easy to use, works well on any device, and aligns with the elements identified in the planning stage like brand identity, target audience, and company goals. With your site architecture in mind, designers build mock-ups, wireframes, and prototypes that lay out all the elements of your website so you can see what it will look like and how it will function. This step also includes development planning and approvals on their wireframes before the actual build begins.
Step 4: Build
Now that you have all the pieces in place, it’s time to get to work on the final product. The build is a heavy lifting phase where all your hard work starts to come together and pay off. This process includes building the platform, creating staging/development site, finalizing all web content, customizations, and a whole lot of testing. It is crucial that your development team is using tried and tested tools and best practices throughout this phase and that none of these areas are overlooked. Mistakes here can be quite costly and it is imperative to have a good quality assurance (QA) and remediation strategy in place to make sure you are being as efficient as possible.
Step 5: Optimize, Test, and Deliver
Before your website makes its debut, it is up your full website team to cross their t’s and dot their i’s. This includes everything from testing multi-browser compatibility and checking for broken links to implementing tracking codes and editing for grammar mistakes. Restructuring and reorganizing can be messy but you should have a structured plan in place from step 2, with a list of tasks assigned to ensure the launch goes smoothly and to minimize risk. There are a lot of details in the testing and optimization stage so it’s a good idea to also schedule in user testing for feedback during this process. Once your website is fully functional with all the pieces in place, you’re ready to deliver the final product to your executive team for additional testing and review.
Step 6: Launch and Promote
After the approvals have gone through, your website is ready for liftoff! Launch day is typically pretty straightforward but you have to accommodate for anything from a video not working to a page loading slowly. This is the reason we recommend to our clients that they take a soft launch/hard live approach. With a soft launch, you have one to two weeks to work out any kinks before you officially call it “live.” Then, you can make a big splash with your promotional efforts. This is an exciting moment for every business, so make sure you have an email crafted, a social media announcement drafted, a blog post written, and a press release ready to share to your audience and get the message out there!
Step 7: Support and Analyze
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. A common misconception about a website redesign is that when you have built this glorious user-friendly, SEO-optimized website – that’s it. Now that your website is launched, you can kick back in your chair, watching the leads convert and the customers roll in. Your coworkers cheer for you every time you walk through the doors and they’ve hired someone to give you daily foot massages…
Sorry to wake you from that dream but the launch is only the beginning of a long journey. Support and continuous improvement is an essential component of building and maintaining a successful website. It also makes up a huge part of your website governance plan that will help you improve and grow. At the end of the day, websites need to constantly evolve to meet changing buyer behaviors and technology demands. And it’s through analytics and optimization that you will meet these expectations and grow in the long term. Make sure you assign the resources to monitor your website following the launch and keep an eye out for unusual traffic drops, keyword ranking losses, or sudden 404 spikes.
Minimize Risk by Asking For Help
Some companies who have the resources on staff decide to move forward with their website redesign in-house. If you don’t have that expertise, then your other option is to hire a digital marketing agency with the experience and resources. You want a partner who not only has the experience in delivering rich, revenue-generating websites, you also want them to be able to offer insight into aligning your marketing and sales departments. You can’t have your marketing team creating content and generating leads in a silo – you need sales to contribute and seal the deal.