You have finally decided to do your company website redesign. Let me tell you something here my friend, a redesign can be a huge success — or a total flop. It can also be a long and tedious undertaking. Many teams might want to dive right into it, but strategy and goals need to be established first, which is why every website redesign needs to start with a clear vision or problem to solve. And the better you’re at defining that vision at the very beginning, the more successful your redesign will be — and the smoother the entire process will be as well.
We set out to create a helpful guide and worksheet that any inbound marketer can use to plan a successful website redesign. Whether you’re working with an agency like Burt Systems or redesigning your company website in house, this guide will help you strategize your website redesign, and the accompanying tracking worksheet will enable you to track your progress as you move beyond strategy and into each stage of your redesign.
We’ve identified seven steps of website redesign: strategy, plan, design, build, optimize, launch, and analyze. Rebecca Churt in her viral article with the same title says “none of the latter six stages will be effective without putting a lot of focus on that first stage: strategy”. Let’s go into detail about what you should consider at the strategy stage so you can embark on a website redesign that turns out to be a huge success — not a total flop.
While we’ll argue that continuous evaluation of web analytics is important, if your team hasn’t had time to do so lately, now is the time to see how visitors are currently interacting with your site and what actions they are taking. While web analytics cannot necessarily tell you why users are doing something (this is an important part of a later phase – user testing), it can help you identify problem areas that should be addressed with the website redesign.
For example, if a page with an important form has an extremely high bounce rate, you need to understand why visitors are leaving the page. Is the content not descriptive enough? Are you missing a call-to-action (CTA)? Does the page take a long time to load? Is the form too long? Is the form accessible to all? Think about what matters to your organization and determine how you will address any outstanding issues on the current site.
Start by analyzing your existing website over its history in areas such as:
If you don’t have access to this information, then I absolutely recommend adding tools like Google Analytics and HubSpot’s Marketing Analytics for better tracking and visibility into your website’s performance. Furthermore, make note of which tools you used to identify each of these particular benchmarks. Ideally, you’ll want to use those same exact tools when collecting post-design metrics. Otherwise, you’ll be comparing apples to oranges!
If you are asking yourself “Why are we doing a redesign?”, then you are already on the right track. “Your website redesign should not be about implementing new design trends, but rather how your organization can leverage a new site to meet goals and objectives” says an article on siteimprove.com. Do you want more views, more leads, more interaction? How can you use the site to meet goals and how will you be able to keep track of how successful your site is at meeting these goals after launch? All of these are important considerations. With all the time and resources going into a website redesign, you need to have a solid business case first.
When considering a website redesign, there should always be a good reason behind it. We speak with a lot of marketers in our niche, and we often hear flimsy reasoning like “it’s been a while since we’ve done one,” or “my competitor just did a redesign.” These reasons just aren’t good enough. Remember: It’s not just about how your site looks, but rather how it works. Be really clear about why you’re doing the redesign in the first place, and tie those goals to measurable results. Then communicate your goals with your team, designer, or agency. Consider the following data-driven objectives for your own website:
Many of these metrics-driving goals are dependent on one other. For example, in order to generate more conversions, you may also need to increase traffic while decreasing your site’s bounce rate.
Before you begin crafting your new website design and content, you need to be crystal clear about your desired branding, messaging, and your unique value proposition so it’s consistent across your entire website. A new visitor should immediately understand what you do, how it relates to them, and why they should stay on your site and not flee to your competitors’.
Think about whether you plan to change your branding and/or messaging, of if it will stay the same? If you plan to change it, what about it needs to change? Answer these questions within your website redesign planning worksheet so you can keep these changes top of mind while you embark on the rest of your redesign.
As you’re developing your messaging, use clear, concise language, and avoid using industry jargon (AKA gobbledygook) that makes you sound more like a business babbling robot than a human. Consider the following example of how we could describe Burt Systems in a gobbledygook way:
Burt Systems helps companies across multiple countries reduce churn by backfilling the sales pipeline with highly qualified traffic that generates leads that convert into customers with high lifetime value. We achieve this by applying up to date and extensive research on your company’s SERPs principals of all marketing channels for a synergistic view of the data that determines and prioritizes high-value marketing activities.
Say what? Let’s translate that into the way people actually speak:
Burt Systems Online Marketing Agency helps more than 900 businesses in 8 countries attract leads and convert them into customers. A pioneer in inbound marketing in Africa, Burt Systems aims to help its customers realize real value for their businesses.
Ahh yes … much clearer!
Your website is not just about you. And when your visitors land on your website, they’re asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Speak to them in their language by strategizing your design and content around your business’ buyer personas. A buyer persona is a theoretical manifestation of your business’ ideal customers. They are fictional representations based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
For instance, if you’re a marketing manager at a hotel who is looking to bring in new business, you might target five different buyer personas: an independent business traveler, a corporate travel manager, an event planner, a vacationing family, and a couple planning their wedding reception.
Make sure you clearly identify your buyer personas so you can shape your website redesign strategy around the website visitors that matter most to you. For help with this, check out Hubspot’s handy buyer personas template — and accompanying blog post — to help you research and create detailed buyer personas.
Is your target audience changing as part of your website redesign? Does your branding and content align with this audience? Answer these questions as you’re strategizing your redesign.
Getting found online is essential to improving the rest of your site’s metrics. If no one is coming to your site, how can you increase new leads, re-conversions, or sales? Here are some tips to designing your new website with SEO in mind:
Also Read: 20 Ways To Make Your Website Accessible
Use your marketing analytics to figure out which pages receive the most traffic and inbound links, convert the most leads, and ultimately cover the most influential topics in your industry. If you plan to move any of these highly valuable pages, make sure you create the proper 301 redirects.
Speaking of 301 redirects, this is extremely important in terms of retaining the traffic and link value associated with a given page. Create a spreadsheet to record and map out your 301 redirects (old URLs vs. new URLs). Then hand this document over to someone technical for proper implementation.
For every page on your newly designed site, pick one keyword/topic that the page will focus on. Once you determine the keyword(s), use on-page SEO best practices to optimize the pages on your website. Furthermore, consider adding new content and pages to your website that address those particular keywords and topics that are neglected on your current site.
Researching and creating a competitive analysis is such an important aspect of planning your website redesign. It needs to be done, regardless of the potentially-long time commitment! This will allow your organization to understand strengths and weaknesses of competitors while identifying industry trends.
Even if you only compete with another organization on a small-scale – one product, one feature, one country – taking the time to evaluate their websites will help you determine some of your own requirements. You can assign team members different organizations and create a list of features to evaluate to get an overall comprehensive view of the competition.
Take a look at your competitors’ websites, and take note of what you like — and what you don’t. This is not meant to make you a copycat, but rather to help you realize what you can do better. Once you conduct your analysis, put together a list of action items highlighting some areas for improvement and what you can do differently than your competitors.
While a redesign is a great way to improve the performance of your website, unfortunately, there are also countless ways in which it can hurt you. Your existing website likely contains many high-performing assets that you’ve already built up, and losing their effectiveness because of a redesign can severely damage your marketing results. For instance, such assets might include your:
For example, if you end up removing a page from your site that has accumulated a high number of inbound links, you could potentially lose a lot of SEO credit, which will make it increasingly difficult for you to get found in search. Keep in mind that many web designers don’t consider this step because they are neither marketers nor SEO specialists. Don’t hesitate to remind them about this step, and help them along by auditing your site and providing them with a list and strategy for maintaining or updating critical pages on your site.
Once you’ve completed the strategy stage, you’ll be much better prepared for a successful website redesign. Now you’re ready to plan, design, build, optimize, launch, and analyze your new website — with the help of our team at Burt Systems, we can seamlessly take you through the whole process with less hustle.