Sales Won’t Improve Just From a Website Facelift _ You Might Need a Website Redesign
The decision has been made and you’ve received a blessing from your executive team. Your website redesign initiative is a go. So where will you take it? Have you thought about utilizing a website redesign checklist?
More often than not a website overhaul is just a visual re-work. Things might feel dated, out of order, or simply not come through the way you want your company to be represented. In this case, marketing departments or web designers commonly go through the motions and only give the website a facelift. They’ll research the web and pick a new template, which likely looks better but doesn’t do much for your marketing beyond that. Even if you have a tight budget or small time frame, this approach is short sighted and misses out on a huge opportunity.
Smart marketers will take a minute and step back to ask what more can be done in this rare moment to improve branding, user experience, and most importantly – sales. Redesigning a website provides companies with the unique chance to look at the big picture and see where improvements can be made to your entire marketing and sales process.
Refining different areas of your marketing strategy or plan is most commonly done in bits and pieces throughout the year, with less consideration on the approach as a whole, but by using your website redesign as the basis for a larger marketing initiative, you can dramatically improve both the quality of the website, and your entire marketing engine.
We’ve detailed 17 common myths about useless websites which are often found on those sites where teams are reactive and not proactive about making improvements. Does your website fall into any of these areas? If so, it’s probably time to take a step back and do things right.
It’s worth noting that teams with limited resources or time can and should undergo this process at a high level to see where improvements can be made. Your goal might be to simply change the aesthetic of the site, but that process should be carefully considered and methodical to make sure it’s as effective as possible.
So how should marketers ready to thoughtfully overhaul, and not just redesign their website go about it?
Let’s dive into this detailed 7 step website redesign checklist and get started. You can also download our detailed website redesign workbook for a convenient template to help you follow this step by step process.
It All Starts With Strategy
First things first. Start by considering your strategy for this process, just as you would for other aspects of your marketing plan. Why are you doing the redesign? Has it been poorly needed and just put off for months? Or maybe it’s centered around a branding change or even a product launch? Consider here why it’s important to go through the process and what the measurable results will be afterward like contribution to sales, better user engagement, or increased brand awareness.
You should also go through the exercise of defining your company’s brand in this step. This includes your message, value proposition, and why the competition can’t compete. Even if it feels tedious this process will be extremely helpful as you develop content further in the process.
Along the same lines, be sure to define your buyer persona as well. List your target audiences out in detail and think about whether these audiences might be shifting with this redesign. Consider where your branding plays a role here, as you want to make sure that’s synced up with the types of people who will be coming across your website. Many times, this is an afterthought or executives believe they know their target market inside and out. However, it’s a common myth that you can’t learn more about your target as there are always more details and behaviors you can uncover.
When was the last time you took a long hard look at the competition? Well now is the time. Take a new trip to the competition’s websites and marketing programs to see what you like, don’t like, or where you can highlight your differentiation from them. Do your research and see which competitors rank well in search engines, get talked about on social, and have strong brand awareness. All of these factors are important to consider before even thinking about a design.
Last but not least, benchmark your current metrics. Many times this is the catalyst for a website redesign – the desire to improve on some poor web metrics. Document what these numbers are currently, what the averages have been, the rate of improvement or decline, and any statistics that show how your site has contributed to sales. Be sure to take a look at the first tab of our redesign workbook for a complete list of benchmarks to report on.
Get Your Plan on Paper
In the planning stage, we can now start to consider how the website will be structured and engage users. It’s important to carefully consider what works now and what doesn’t for your visitors. Your employees may know the website inside and out, but that does not always translate to ease of use or a clear understanding when a visitor lands on it for the first time. Equally as important is connecting these desired changes to your goals.
Ask yourself open-ended questions like “What first impression do I want to give my audience?” and “How trustworthy would a customer find it?” These are critical to creating your plan around how potential customers will experience your website.
This is also the stage to consider the specific type of platform or content management system (CMS) you will be using. How do the benefits of your options stack up against the goals and experience you are looking to deliver? There are many options to consider when choosing the right CMS, and that process alone takes verycarefuly consideration and debate. For a deeper dive into this topic, don’t miss our popular HubSpot COS vs. WordPress CMS blog.
You’ll also want to plan it out by following these steps:
- Create a catalog of current content assets. Where are your strongest or most popular pieces? Which pages rank best? Is there a trend with duplicate content, and are you prepared to avoid this down the road?
- Create a sitemap of your ideal website architecture. Which pages will be primary and which will be secondary? How important are the call to actions or lead generators and where do they need to fit in?
- Use your content asset catalog from earlier in this stage and develop a future content plan. Will you be keeping content, will you be getting rid of most of it, or do you just need to rewrite and bring it up to date? Plan out your call to actions based on your sitemap and past experience gathering an understanding of what resonates with your audience.
Get Designing – But Skip the Details
The design phase is often the step that designers and web developers focus on most, especially when the other six steps described here go out the window. Hours and hours can be spent finding a color pallet or modifying a template to get the exact look you want, but in the end, there tends to be little consideration on how this affects the user or relates back to your goals. This is not to say that design is not important, but after seeing so many projects start and finish with design and nothing more, it truly should be a piece of the larger process.
Design can make or break a website, but are you creating a design for yourself or for your prospects? You’ll want your design process to unfold in a collaborative and efficient way.
Follow this proven process to keep things moving:
- Layout – Review wireframes of your new layout with your team and make necessary revisions. Limit these changes to 2-3 times at most.
- Mockups – Take these approved wireframes and develop site mockups based on the chosen design as well as your strategy and plan for user experience. Again, you’ll want to only go through the revision process up to 3 times or else risk going down the rabbit hole of just focusing on the finer details.
- Colors – Create a color pallet that matches your branding and products. Many teams don’t follow a formal process when doing this but it’s essential if you have a content or social media plan that needs to be branded accordingly with the website.
- Visuals – Have considered what type of imagery the site will be using? Do some browsing online for images that represent your brand or relate to the information you are providing.
Build It Out
Getting your redesigned website built and on the web can take anywhere from a few hours to many months based on the scope of the project. A lot of the time and effort required goes back to the CMS or platform you have chosen from the planning stage. Tools like HubSpot and Rainmaker make it straightforward, while WordPress will require extra effort and development.
There is a lot that can and has been said about the build and development process itself, so we won’t get into detail on all that here, but whether you are handling this stage in-house or through an outside firm, make sure it unfolds in an orderly way.
The following steps can ensure a successful build:
- Decide which platform works best and the time frame you can expect to build it within.
- Finalize all your web content and visuals from the design stage.
- Make sure the staging and development site (if your CMS has one) is set up correctly as non-index, so search engines don’t crawl it.
- As the site is built, go through a continuous revision process to see how user experience actually feels compared to your planned wireframes or mockups.
Optimization Is Key
The optimize stage includes implementing many aspects of your SEO plan as well as a general review of the site details. Be sure to download our website redesign workbook for an in-depth checklist of all the elements that need to be considered here.
You’ll want to do a thorough SEO review of the site in its new form to see where search engine optimization can be improved. This includes the sitemap and robot.txt files, clear and meaningful use of keywords, as well as the implementation of the mobile version of your site. It’s a little-known fact outside of the marketing and web development community that non-responsive mobile websites will actually negatively affect your search ranking, so it must be optimized before going live. You’ll also want to review your keyword approach and make sure they are focused on with your most important sites, and throughout the site in general.
This is also your last time to improve the quality of the user experience and site flow before the public gets to decide for themselves. Is the page hierarchy clear? Are the call to actions obvious and move the visitor further down the funnel? Are there elements of the site like imagery or graphics that help or hinder the website?
Here’s a good example from Udemy of a strong and carefully considered call to action that matches their web design.
It’s wise to improve on all of these aspects now before you begin setting new benchmarks on user engagement. If you make these changes after the site goes live, you won’t be getting a clear understanding of performance indicators from the start. Some other areas to consider at this stage as they relate to SEO and getting the other elements of the site online:
- Review SEO basics like multi-browser capabilities, broken link checks, spelling errors especially for keywords.
- Shareability features like social tools and the ability to subscribe to your content.
- Analytics tracking installed like Google Analytics and monitoring tools like Crazy Egg or Hot Jar.
- Run speed tests like this tool from Pingdom to gauge whether it performs better or worse than the previous design, and where your problem areas might be.
- Are your redirects set up properly? Ensure that people can find your content easily even if they visit a broken link.
Last but not least here you want to prepare the site for upcoming launch. This typically requires sign off from management and decision makers on all aspects of the revised website and determining a realist launch date. Often times these revisions are done in concert with new product releases or a new branding, so you will want to make that timeline is synced up with the new site being available to everyone.
Launch and Liftoff
Now’s the time – get ready to launch your redesigned website. Murphy’s Law usually applies here for such a big change, so be sure that your support and marketing teams are ready and available to fix problems if they arise. Many teams prefer to do a soft launch or make the switch at a slow time for traffic, but this varies based on your own situation.
Have you given more thought to your announcement plan? Don’t miss the chance to get the word out via email, social media, public relations, company or partner blogs, and any other means you have.
Don’t forget to begin implementing your new content plan once you go live. The new company blog will be a great place to start, as you can roll out updated content there continuously and give your revamped content plan a kickstart. There’s some great advice in our detailed case study analysis of three firms who prove you’re probably doing content all wrong.
Analyze and Scrutinize
A lack of focus on the final stage of this process is many times the cause of needing to do a redesign in the first place. Companies often neglect the performance – and what actions can be taken to fix that – when they are unhappy with the current state of their website. So use this opportunity to start doing a regular analysis on how well it is performing.
Compare these new metrics with the benchmarks you set in the first stage when considering the strategy. Look at the numbers daily, weekly, and monthly to see overall trends. If you haven’t already, don’t miss getting our ultimate website redesign workbook for a detailed list of all the metrics you should be watching.
You’ll want to see how these changes are contributing to your main goals. Has the improved layout on the homepage resulted in more people clicking your call to action? Are people spending more time on your product pages while considering their options? These are all crucial indicators or your new website’s performance as they relate to your larger goals.
So are you up to the challenge? The next time your company is ready to rework their website from the ground up or even just give it a facelift, use it as a larger opportunity to improve your entire marketing engine and process. If you were revising your marketing strategy you certainly would take your time and be as thoughtful as possible in your decision making. So treat your website redesign no different since it is the core of all your activities and the face of your business online.
Does Our Website Redesign Checklist Have You Wanting More?
Need help getting started with this process or just want a second opinion? Learn more and contact us today for a free website analysis and see what suggestions can be made to approaching this critical piece of improving your marketing and sales performance.
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