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Act in haste, repent at leisure
We have all been there, sick of the sight of your current website and not convinced it is helping you win new business, so the next step is to plan a website redesign.
All too many times people rush into building a new website without addressing some of the fundamental questions.
1. Why are you redesigning the site?
I think there are normally 4 answers to this question.
- You are sick of the sight of the current one
- It doesn’t function properly and it will cost as much to fix as it will to get a new one
- It doesn’t reflect your business as it has evolved
- You are rebranding and need to change the design
If it is 1. Then look harder and see if there is any other reason to change, otherwise you may be changing for the sake of it. Understand what you want to achieve by redesigning the website.
If it is any of the others, then you are quite likely making the right decision.
2. What does the website need to do and is it currently doing it?
Often the current performance is assumed and not backed up by data. This means a “feeling” that the website is not delivering results can often be incorrect.
Make sure you know what you want from the website, is it enquiries, sales, online chat, page views, shares, brochure downloads etc..
Use your current analytics to identify what is currently working and what is letting your business down. By understanding and learning from the current website, you will more likely build a stronger and better version, taking with you anything which did work well before. By starting from scratch, people often overlook some of the fundamentals which have been successful in their current site. So, studying analytics and current architecture is a must.
3. What performance benchmarks have you put in place?
Always measure your results. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of A/B testing your designs to understand how to enhance individual pages and decide which one performs best. You should at least make a log of any key performance indicators (KPI’s) which will help you understand if the new redesign is an improvement.
Metrics like bounce rate, time on site, on click actions and retention of visitors are all good micro goals to set. Site speed, domain authority, and page value, are other metrics to look at. By comparing the old site to the competition in a benchmarking report you can revisit this post launch to understand how you have enhanced things.
4. How will the User Experience (UX) drive your goals?
One of the biggest challenges with a new web development is designing the path that you want your users to take. First of all, try creating personas of your audience. From here visualise and plan the journey that visitor will likely make on the new site. How do they navigate back to pages? How will they share the content they like? How many steps is the most efficient way for them to complete a goal? Be that a purchase or filling in details on a form.
By mapping this out in the design process of what you think people might do, combined with what you want them to do, the user experience should be enhanced with the redesign. Think how and who will be navigating the website, whether on mobile or tablet vs desktop, hence what will each device need to offer the user.
5. Will you lose any SEO when you move to your new website?
Think about it, for as long as your current site has been ranking, the search engines have been reading and ranking it. You certainly don’t want to lose any hard earned rankings. An SEO transition plan should be put in place to carry as much value as you can from the old website to the new one.
Not only that, you must make sure your on page SEO foundations are in place for the new website, with a view to improve your rankings, rather than just maintain them. We have seen it happen all too often, a new site launch with no SEO planning and the rankings fall off a cliff. Traffic from organic search drops and the worst part is trying to claw your way back up the listings, which takes a lot of time.
Therefore, work to a migration plan to ensure you protect as much value as possible, as well as putting an ongoing SEO plan in place. You may have strong on page foundations but without links you will be limiting your success.
The moral of the story?
LEARN from the data you have, KNOW what your are trying to achieve and make sure you OPTIMISE for search engines.