Redesigning your website might be one of the most important business moves you make as 2016 gives way to 2017. A redesigned site can mean more visitors, more sales conversions and a positive impact on your bottom line. Of course, redesigning your website may also be one of the most time- and resource-intensive tasks you undertake this year. That’s why planning ahead is essential. Creating a detailed plan for your site redesign ensures that your efforts will be both time and cost effective, and it helps to ensure that your site truly meets your business needs too. Here are seven steps to take as you develop your website redesign plan.
1. Evaluate Your Current Site
Taking an honest look at your current website design is the very first thing you should do if you’re planning a redesign. Start by making a list of what works on your website. Then, make a list of everything that isn’t working. You’ll want to consider basics such as site color, visual layout and your company’s logo. You’ll also need to take website functionality when it comes to navigation, contact forms and e-commerce tools into account. Ask your staff for their opinions about the current site, and be sure to take a second look at any feedback you’ve received from website users too.
Part of evaluating your current site is looking at important metrics. Be sure that you’ve considered:
- Overall site traffic
- The bounce rate for visitors
- Your site’s current search engine ranking
- Your site’s performance ranking
- How visitors spend their time on your site
- The conversion rate from lead to customer for your site
- The total monthly, quarterly and yearly sales generated by your site.
2. Create Goals for Your New Site
Once you’ve evaluated what does and doesn’t work on your existing site, you can start setting goals for your new site. Maybe you want to attract more consumers in your local area, or perhaps you need to redesign your site so that it accommodates visitors on tablets and smartphones. Create both aesthetic and use-related goals to direct the general redesign process.
In addition to creating these general goals, you should also create specific goals based upon current website metrics. For example, you might aim to increase traffic by 50 percent or to improve the search engine ranking of your site. Creating clear goals based on metrics will make measuring the success of your site redesign much easier.
3. Get to Know Your Audience
You might think that you know your website audience, but there’s no room for error when it comes to investing in a redesign. Work with your internal marketing team or hire an outside consultant to do research on your target demographic. Understanding who is likely to visit your site and what tools they hope to find on your site will be invaluable during the redesign process. Be sure that you’re also looking at the keywords that visitors are using to find your site so that you can target them during the redesign process.
4. Take Stock of the Competition
In addition to getting to know your audience, it’s essential that you get to know your online competition too. Start by reviewing the websites of any major, brick-and-mortar competitors. How are their sites organized? What are they doing to convert visitors into customers? What kinds of resources are they offering to visitors?
Once you’ve evaluated local or real-world competitors that you know about, conduct keyword-driven searches to identify online-only businesses that might be competing with yours. Evaluate these sites using the same criteria you used to evaluate other known competitors. As you evaluate your competition, jot down ideas of how your website can set your business apart from others.
5. Identify Your Content Strategy
A visually striking website is important, but a redesign is useless unless you also have a strong content strategy. Decide what types of photos, graphics and text you’ll use to attract visitors to your site and engage them once they’re there. Evaluate the current content of every page of your site, and determine how it can be improved or built upon. Think about the strength of your site’s current SEO strategy and what can be done to improve it.
If your website doesn’t currently feature a blog, now is a good time to consider adding one. Ensure the success of your blog by deciding:
- How often you’ll create new posts
- What type of information posts will include
- Who will write your posts or how you’ll source them
6. Make the Big Design Decisions
Once you’ve determined your overall website goals and have decided what type of content you’ll include, you can start making aesthetic decisions. Consider the overall layout of your website, what colors it will use and whether your logo needs to be redesigned. Remember that making your website an extension of your branded image is essential.
Of course, you’ll need to make technical decisions as you make design decisions. These include the framework on which your site will be built and how you’ll meet mobile optimization needs. Be sure to go over site security concerns with your design partner too. Preventing hackers from accessing customer information is essential to building confidence with web visitors.
7. Create a Project Completion Timeline
Once you’ve made major redesign decisions, you should create a timeline for your website relaunch. Your chief priority here should be to minimize site downtime and ensure that visitors can still use your site during the redesign process. As your redesign progresses, be sure that you’re meeting your timeline goals. Doing so is essential to budget control and allows you to alert website users of coming changes in a timely fashion too.
As with most big business decisions, the success or failure of a website redesign depends largely on planning. Taking the time to plan now will ensure that you get what you want from your site redesign and that you’re able to stay on budget while doing so too. Make a thorough plan now so that you can kick back and enjoy the success of your new website when it launches.
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