There could be multiple reasons for a company to look at website redesign—from undergoing a merger, or acquisition, to new leadership, to a change in business line, to a change in technology, to incorporating digital transformation in your company. It is a big decision, as all levels of management are involved, and whatever you do will be seen by your customers and the public at large. Therefore, there are important considerations to be made before you decide to go ahead with a website redesign project as such.
When to redesign your website?
On average, companies redesign their websites every three years. It costs you money, a lot of time and teamwork, agency involvement (probably), and media outreach to let people know about the new website launch. Before you move ahead, it is important to evaluate the need for a website redesign.
Here are a few basic questions you may want to address:
1. Do we really need a new website?
2. Can I upgrade basic content and design with my existing website?
3. Even if we launch a new website, will that be future-proof?
4. What will happen to my SEO and all content marketing efforts?
5. How much do I need to spend?
Once you have these answers and your budget, you will have the clarity to go ahead.
Best Practices for Website Redesign
Think User Experience and Wireframe Prototypes
Consumers should be your sole focus when thinking of wireframes and prototypes. Websites are made to sell or to gain customers based on your business interests. Most users stay for less than 15 seconds. When you start fresh and develop wireframes, try limiting number of clicks towards the desired call to action you want your customers to take. For example, if you sell shoes online, your homepage should show shoes being sold online, or at least a user should be able to buy a shoe in 2 to 3 clicks at max on your website.
• Website Wireframe
Marketing and Competitive Intelligence
On the positive side of things, we must always learn from competition. It is worth exploring all recent website redesign projects (at least in the last 6 months) among your competitors, influencers, and even your customers. They must have gone through similar challenges and learnings. Talk to your peers in other industries and gain insights. Looking at what they did best can provide a lot of ideas and inspiration to improve your website design.
Effective websites drive conversions and fulfill business goals and interests. It is very important to know the desired call to action you want your customers to take on your website. If you are selling shoes online, your conversion goal should be to drive a sale online.
If you imagine a conversion funnel as given below, your goal should be to get as close as possible to the bottom of the funnel.
Email Marketing Embedded
Email marketing is the most organic channel you will ever use for all outreach and push marketing programs. It is good to have all your forms built right from your marketing automation system like HubSpot, Convertkit or Aweber, and they should have smooth integration with your website platform or Content Management System.
Having multiple types is a strict no-no, especially with GDPR in place and many regulations coming in; it is even more necessary to have a centralized way to monitor all form submissions across your website. You may also want to avoid lead capture forms if you purchased a marketing automation tool, already.
Social Media Integration
The importance of social media is well known. You must ensure a seamless integration of social media platforms across your website. This means employing Twitter cards and share-friendly buttons (like monarch social sharing) with sharable content on your website, including social media channels that fit your business. Alternatively, you may also consider using social media management tools to schedule, monitor and get regular content for your social media properties.
A blog may require shareable buttons on the top, bottom, and/or lefthand sidebar on your website, like the one you find on this blog.
• Best Practices for Social Media
Security is of the utmost importance when you redesign a website. You may want to work closely with the IT department of your company, as they know this subject better. A companywide firewall and strict adherence to IT and security policies is just the beginning to secure your website. Choosing a secure infrastructure to host your website and employing security systems with SSL encryption, regular malware scanning and daily backups are a few more ways to ensure website security.
Machine Learning and Digital Experiences for Web Redesign
Machine learning is touching lives, and marketing is no different. I have had some interesting initial discussions with Optimizely and SiteCore, a few companies that aim to provide unique digital experiences, including dynamic content for different users on your website. It is all about taking the website redesign to a whole new level. It can be a bit costly, but it is worth exploring if you happen to have a good budget and ambitious goals.
It’s all about trying to be future-proof. Nothing (in reality) is future-proof, though! You should get as close as you can to the latest technology, website features, and functionalities. The right mix of integration with marketing automation, content management system, CRM, and light and fast coding with optimized loading of the website are a few ways to get this right. It is equally important for all your web data to be well-integrated. Consider integrating all your Google products for better insights—Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Webmaster Integration, for instance.
Standardized Approach to Brand: Web Content, Landing Pages, and Calls to Action
This is the most important consideration for a marketers during website redesign. It begins with strategizing your website content and sitemap architecture. If you have brand guidelines, consider having a web guideline. Here are few important questions you may want to ask.
• How to organize content?
• Should your website language and tone be product-, solution-, or services-centric?
• Where to place my demos?
• What colors to choose for web page, content, and button text?
It is also a good practice to have a standardized approach to all your landing pages. All these need careful consideration and planning, as marketing closely works with leadership and IT in such redesign projects.
Optimized Web Content (Solution/Product/Services-Centric) – SEO
A content that ranks should be the focus of your website. Being SEO-friendly needs to be planned right when you start developing the very first piece of content towards the website revamp, including cross links inside your web pages, outbound links to the pages you mention, and adopting an off-page optimization strategy is much needed. check out my list of Free SEO Tools.
Show and Tell – Omnichannel Content
Omnichannel content is the way forward for content marketing. It is important to use visuals, images, and embedded videos within your content at appropriate places. The mix of all these content types can vary based on your business interests. An eBook business must show the cover page of the eBook; likewise, a mobile design company must show more visuals and angles of the mobile design; and a B2B IT company must show use cases solving complex business problems, for instance.
CDN/Content Delivery Network
In simple terms, a content delivery network or CDN is a group of geographically placed servers that provides fast delivery of the content over the internet. Incorporating a CDN is a common practice today, and it helps serve content faster when users access your website from different geographic locations across the globe.
Find out more:
According to Business Insider, 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.
Human beings cannot always work, and that’s where chatbots play an important role. You must always include a chatbot for personalized web interactions backed by real technical support and salespeople, as needed. In all probability, your conversation would be higher with them than without them.
Consider In-house Options and External Agencies
Website redesign is a complex project, and it involves multiple teams and decision-makers. Unless you have all skillsets available internally, it is worth looking out and working with web design agencies. They bring in fresh perspectives and cross-industry references, which cannot be found internally. Having said that, not all agencies are great.
You may want to consider references from past projects and evaluate capabilities before you even decide to work with an agency.
Quick pro tip: Cost is the last thing you should look at.
Limit Gating of Your Website Content
I did covered this topic in the marketing trends blog earlier. Gating a piece of content is good, but it should not be overwhelming for your customers. It is a good practice to offer high-level thought leadership articles or collaterals for free. Enabling the asset behind a form submission should be a mix in your overall content strategy, and should only be done when it brings in some value with relevance for your customers. Please remember, gating sounds salesy, so your company needs to be very careful with the quality of the asset being gated.
Remember the last time you submitted a form to download and wished you could have avoided sharing your details?
A lot of leading companies are making this mistake everyday, most likely to fulfill their short-term sales goals.
Website Redesign Checklist
• Clickable logo.
• User-friendly sitemap.
• Content organized by categories across your website.
• Cross links between relevant web pages of your website.
• Provide outbound links to articles outside your website.
• Utilize header tags across your website with a mix of H1, H2, H3 and H4.
• Include meta tags and descriptions.
• Keep page title within 60 characters.
• Use a mix of visuals, videos, and images.
• Clear and simple call to action.
• 13 Steps for Building an Effective SEO Strategy
• Mobile-responsive containers across website.
• User testing for each page across mobile devices, desktops, and tablets before a webpage goes live.
• Is Your Web Page Mobile-Friendly?
CMS Enabled with Defined Roles
• Limited access to Content Management System.
• Define user roles and limit levels of access (i.e. Admin, Contributor, Editor).
• Ensure a database backup is enabled.
• Enable conversion tracking based on the tools you have in your company—for example, basic scripts you may want to add include Google analytics, Google Ads, marketing automation tool script, WooCommerce scripts, and so on.
• Utilize existing scripts and reuse to retain data loss after website redesign.
Include SSL encryption with a certificate for your domain URL, which is an important SEO factor as well.
(Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL certificates.)
Ensure that your website loads quickly and runs well once loaded. It also implies smooth loading of images, infinite scroll, rendering and loading all scripts on your website.
This has more to do with your web development team or agency, as appointed.
Google provides detailed guidelines on rendering performance.
• How to Optimize Images for Web and Performance
• GDPR Implications for Digital Marketing
On-Site Search and Voice Search
Voice search is growing, and it has immense potential. A search box at the top navigation is a must-have. It is better when you have voice search enabled on your website, and it also helps with speech recognition.
• How to Add Speech Recognition to Your Website
Hosting Enabled with Backups
Post-Content SEO Checks
Once your website content is ready and development is somewhat completed, use SEMrush to validate and correct SEO mistakes before you go live. Avoid any grammar mistakes and you can also consider using Grammarly to do this effectively.
The Bottom Line
In my marketing experience, I did about 4 website redesign projects and it was a great learning experience every time I launched a new website. When I look back now, I can always think of better ways to improve them all, the simplest reasons being technology has changed, and it was difficult to future-proof a website as such. You must aim for being current with technology and your functional and content requirements and being as futuristic as possible. That way, your website redesign cycles will be a lot more shorter. While website redesigns are inevitable, it is best to add some personality to it. It could be as simple as a color standing out, a “Button/Call to Action” that nobody else could think of, a surprise element with a pop-up for your customers, or a creative approach to a regulation like GDPR on your website—the opportunities are endless. Remember (and I love this quote),
“leaders don’t do different things, they do things differently.”
Did you come across any best practices or steps I cound’t think of? Let me know in the comments section below.