Web Redesign 101
As a follow-on to the Brand Building 101 article, lets take a look at some things you need to consider before jumping head-long into any website redesign project. Sure there is a need, from time to time, to freshen up the look of your website if you are moving to a Content Management System (CMS), you are rebranding, it is getting you a lot of tire-kickers but no buyers or your site simply looks like it was built in the 1990s.
Sooner or later, there will come a time when all of the ‘apples’ have been picked off of the ground or those easily within reach. That is when it is time for a drastic change. Transforming your site into a phoenix, to soar above the competition and reaching the highest fruit requires radical thinking.
But this also must come with a bit of caution – a radical redesign can be a huge success or it can be a dismal failure. It will be a long, tedious journey and there is a dollar amount attached to it as well. But having a plan or at least a checklist, will make the process a lot easier and help you to avoid the whole ‘failure’ thing. Whether you are working with RVHWD, another design agency (eek!) or doing it in-house, having at least a checklist will save you more than a few headaches.
Admittedly, there are dozens, if not hundreds of articles, ebooks, web pages, blogs and so on out there that offer checklists and a lot of technical jargon, many seem to miss or just lightly brush over three very important concepts; uniform branding, the effect on marketing efforts and most importantly, your public relations/public image. They all tie together and can effect your bottom line – for good or for the not so good.
That’s where this article and RVHWD differs from the rest – a ‘big-picture’ approach to redesigning your website.
#1 – Measure your metrics
Before you even start thinking about a redesign project, you must first know, understand and document your current website performance. You begin this by using web tools like Google Analytics or your hosting provider’s control panel tools (if they are available) to access this sort of information. Then you start by analyzing your current website performance over its life-span for stuff like:
- Visitors/Unique Visitors
- Page views
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
- Keyword rankings
- New leads/form submissions
- Total sales generated
#2 – Set your goals
Redesigning a website for the sake of redesigning is a waste of time, effort and money. Have clear, measurable goals in place first and communicate them to your agency, team or designer. Consider those objectives as they relate to the above list for site visitors, page views and so on as they all relate to each other to one degree or another. Then you must set a measurable metric by which you determine success. For example, ‘increasing website visitors by 120% in the next year.’
#3 – Avoid reinventing the wheel
The ‘wheel’ in this case would be the assets that you already have on your website. These are the things that you have built up over time and they work. Losing them or ignoring them during the redesign process will hurt your marketing efforts and your bottom line. These may include:
- Most viewed/shared content
- Most visited pages
- Best performing keywords
- Search engine ranking for pages
- In-bound links from social media and other websites (i.e. Link-Juice)
An example of this would be failing to migrate a high-performing page or article to the new site. This will eventually lead to declining search engine ranking, which also effects your keyword ranking as well as the other pages on your site losing relevance. Losing just one of these assets will eventually damage your entire website! And working to recover from such a loss is a lot like trying to pedal uphill on a tricycle with a square wheel…
In summary, have a plan, measure your metrics and avoid reinventing what already works.
Web Design 101 Part 2 of this article will give you more items on your checklist to consider before you dive into a website redesign project!