What to consider when redesigning a website
They say that the only constant thing in internet marketing is change and nothing proves this statement more than the ever-shifting design of websites. One day it's black, the next day it's white. One minute it's avant-garde, the next it's streamlined and minimalist.
Here's one golden rule when it comes to redesigning a website: Don't do it for purely aesthetical purposes. Meaning, don't engage in a website overhaul just because you want to prettify something. Your website is the single, most important and most powerful internet marketing tool you have. There's a checklist you should follow and not do it on a whim just because you want to make something beautiful.
The rationale of the redesign initiative
You have to remain grounded and know exactly why you want to redesign your website. Does this sound taken straight from the pages of 'The Purpose Driven Life' or an Episcopal circular? Kidding aside, starting with a web-redesigning project without an end goal in mind is much more prevalent among website owners or organisations than you think.
A purpose or a business objective should stimulate a website redesign, not the other way around. Do you need to increase user engagement? Do you need to boost conversions? Whatever it is that you want to achieve, be sure that everything is clear in your head before making any move.
Determining your web redesign requirements
Based on your objectives, you can now pinpoint how extensive your web redesign project should be. That being said, it's a common mistakes among companies to pull the plug on everything that currently exists and begin from square one.
There are a number of variables that you need to factor in such as your budget. Realistically, given your resources, can you really afford a full-blown redesign? More importantly, is this really what you need? Maybe there are small tweaks that you can do. Perhaps you can isolate on the problem and focus on that area. Don't leave a stone unturned and consider all parameters to accurately determine what your web redesigning needs are.
Learn from your current site
Before touching anything on your present site, make an honest evaluation of it and be as objective as possible. Consider this as your benchmark and without bias, create a list of things that produced good results and those that did not. As you go through the process, take note of the things that you should probably repeat in your new design, those that could have worked given a few revisions and those that really turned out badly and which you should charge to experience.
As the old adage goes, you need to know where you're coming from to know where you're going.
Assessing how your site contributes to your visitor's overall browsing experience
It is easy to forget that there is an actual person on the other side of the screen. One of the most important questions web design companies oftentimes forget to ask is: How is this site going to add value to the Internet browsing experience of users?
This is where site analytics tools such as Google Analytics come into play. For example, you can determine which webpages are serving as exit points. This might mean that users lose interest at these sections and maybe you should improve content to raise the level of engagement.
Know your brand
A website is not a standalone or independent entity. Websites are online representations of brands. As such, not knowing what your company or organisation stands for will result in problematic designs.
Think of it as if you were creating a coat of arms or crest for your brand. With a single glance, what should your site visitors get as a first impression? That your company is credible, established and trustworthy? That your brand is young, fun and carefree? Design elements such as colour, layout and even the typography should all contribute to build your brand image and equity.
Plan the timing and execution of your site re-launch
There are organisations that put such a high premium on their website that a re-launch calls for a grand entrance. However, there are those that prefer to do it quietly and let the visitors discover themselves that they have a new look.
Be creative and strategic when it comes to the manner on how you would unveil your brand new web design, depending on the resources that you have. Instead of a press conference, you can do a launch wherein you can invite bloggers. You can also do a social launch, releasing materials over Twitter and Facebook. You can roll out a progression of social media posts from a teaser phase to the actual unveiling of your site's new look. If you're an e-commerce site, you can probably time your re-launch during a spending season such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
Bridging the gap between the old and the new
This transition stage is often overlooked by many companies. This is especially important for websites that have been around for so long and has received significant traffic.
Be sure to tie lose ends such as putting 310 redirections from old pages to the new ones and making sure that you still get the link juice from the previous link building activities that you may have performed before. Also, ensure that there are no links leading to web pages that have already been taken down so as not to ruin user experience.
No matter how big or small the web-redesigning project you are planning to do, make sure you go through all the items in this simple checklist to guarantee that you are on the right track.
About Subhash Chandra
Subhash Chandra is an SEO & Social Media Consultant at TisIndia, in Noida (UP), India. TIS India is a leading web design development and social media marketing company offers innovative web solutions to world-wide clients.
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