How do I start a website redesign?

Developing a website redesign strategy takes time and know-how.

Organizations don’t spend thousands of dollars and months worth of time on building their website with the intention to simply make it look pretty. They’d have seriously miffed investors if that were the case.

Not to mention it would be a waste of precious marketing budget and capacity overload on already stretched teams trying to get everything on their to-do list finished.

A website is, after all, your number one sales asset. It should be built to draw in visitors and convert them down the sales funnel until they are ready to take the next step.

Websites no matter how well put together will eventually require a facelift, it’s inevitable. User preferences change, search engines update algorithms, and what once worked won’t cut it anymore. Small to midsized companies develop a new website redesign strategy every 18 months or so.

Fast and Painless – Website Redesign

The Result? A beautiful, fast, SEO tuned and mobile friendly website.

You wouldn’t put lipstick on a pig, would you? So don’t do it with your website redesign strategy.

Right?!

To turn your digital presence into an asset rather than a hindrance takes much more than a new template and a splattering of random words across a page.

Typically a lack of site traffic, lead conversions, and sales are due to a deep-seated strategic issue. The tried, and true website redesign process that I’m about to layout has been used to catapult dozens of sites toward creating a genuine impact on the business’ bottom line revenue growth.

We take a complex website redesign model and turn it into bite-size chunks that are easy to follow. Here is the outline we utilize on each project:

  1. Strategy and Brand Building (You’ll start here)
  2. Project Planning
  3. Design and Mockups
  4. The Buildout
  5. Optimize Content
  6. Launch First Iteration
  7. Analyze Results

There’s a lot of backstory to each of these steps so for the sake of understanding each one thoroughly we’ll focus on one per article.

Yes, a seven-part series that’ll take you into a deep dive of how we approach a website rebuild. Subscribe to our blog to receive updates on future stages, or download the full workbook and templates.

Strategy and Brand Building

Where the rubber meets the road. Plotting a strategy is arguably the most vital step regarding a revamp. If the strategy is flawed, you’ll find yourself sitting around months later with the same issues you started with, if not worse.

What makes an excellent website strategy?

To make improvements, you must know where you stand. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Do you currently have 100 organic monthly visitors or 1,000? What social media channels drive engagement? Which marketing channels produce the highest quality leads? If you can’t answer these simple questions, it’s high time you start benchmarking your website’s metrics.

marketing metrics hubspot

The easiest way to do this is to install a Google Analytics tracking code in your site footer. Placing the code is a straightforward process but will vary depending on which CMS you use.

Additionally, if you have a marketing automation software, most platforms will provide analytical insights through similar methods.

Just remember to track metrics consistently on one platform, don’t intermingle data points. Analytical tools use different tracking methods, and reports that have flawed data points could accidentally be used to make crucial future decisions.

There is an infinite amount of criteria that can be tracked on a website, so you’ll have to determine which ones suit your needs and directly align with your future goals. A couple to start jogging your mind are:

  • Number of visitors/unique visitors (broken down by marketing channel)
  • Bounce rate (by individual pages or the site as a whole)
  • Time spent on site
  • Average page views per visit
  • Top performing keywords (broken down by current rank, traffic generated, and lead generation)
  • Number of inbound linking domains (with their relative domain authority – remember quality and quantity)
  • Total number of new leads/form submissions (broken down by marketing channel)
  • The total amount of new customers (broken down by marketing channel)
  • Total number of pages indexed
  • Total number of pages with errors
  • Page traffic behavior flow

Give yourself at the very least a month worth of data to determine baseline trends. Ideally, a year or two of performance paints a better picture of your website’s health.

Determining Goals

Now that you’re digging through data it’s time to understand what it is you’re redesigning and why you’ve decided to start the process in the first place. Hopefully, the reason isn’t just because your boss told you to.

Create a dialogue with key stakeholders to discuss what relevant information is needed to determine the reconstruction’s success.

Some sites are informational, some generate awareness, and others are the primary driver of sales. These all require different goals, and they all measure success in very distinctive ways.

The best place to start is with the S.M.A.R.T Goals model. Keep them clean, defined, and tied back to the benchmarked metrics. If you can’t measure the goal against a baseline, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

SMART Goal Setting

S.M.A.R.T Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Use real numbers, identify responsible parties, keep them within reach and put a time limit, it’s as simple as that.

Make sure to exclude industry jargon, you should be able to send these goals to anyone, and they should understand them without asking questions. If you need a template to map them out, try this one.

Creating a Message and Brand Identity

Remember I said website redesign strategy is the most crucial step? Well building a brand identity is where most businesses make their biggest mistakes.

It’s that fluffy, creative side of marketing that many executives have trouble relating to a tangible return on investment. This often leaves right-brained thinkers wanting to embed the first words they blurt out onto a page and call it a day.

If this starts to happen, stop it in its tracks!

Too many companies try to weasel out of creating a compelling story by claiming to be the lowest-cost provider. 99% of the time there will be a competitor that can undercut you. Don’t be that company.

building a brand

It’s easy to talk about the services you provide or your product’s features. However, that doesn’t resonate with your buyers.

They crave to know how you will address their problems, and they’ll want to buy from an organization they can relate to.

Start crafting that story with a unique value proposition. What makes your company different? How do you stand out on a competitive matrix, and how are you going to make their lives better?

If you have read anything in the startup world within the past 10-years, you’ve probably heard some form of the question “Is your business aspirin or oxygen?” The point being: does it dull pain or can buyers not survive without it?

A company that can wrap its customers in a story that convinces them they can’t live without their products will experience success every time. To do this, you’ve got to align the website content you produce with the needs, wants, and pains of your target audience.

This can be a difficult step if you don’t think creatively. This messaging and positioning workbook can help you ask the right questions.

Defining Buyer Personas

I believe by now it’s clear your website is not about your organization. It’s about the customer. Your goal should be to make sure every visitor can answer the question “What’s in it for me?” when they drop onto your new site.

A buyer persona is a framework where you identify the core demographics, psychographics, job functions, and beliefs of the individuals that use your services.

quick seo audit

Why do these details matter when designing a website?

Your content should relate to a prospect’s pains and expectations if you expect them to experience a necessity to buy. Content marketing means little without context.

The value proposition and unique selling points need to weave into a story that personally speaks to your prospects. It’s part art, part buyer journey science.

If you need a jumpstart, use this buyer persona workbook to keep you organized.

If you’ve previously developed buyer personas or ideal customer profiles, it doesn’t mean they should go into the new design untouched. Answer the question, does this content currently align with the defined audience?

Be open to digging into customer data to find purchasing trends and making updates when needed. By doing this, you’re more likely to build a genuine connection with your target prospects and attract quality leads.

Analyze the Competition

Be careful here. Just because a competitor is doing something doesn’t mean they’re doing it right. Take the time to identify at least three contender sites that you not only aesthetically like, but have a solid architectural layout and competent SEO bones. You’d be surprised how many web houses can build a beautiful site and leave the on-page SEO element in tatters.

SEMRush and SpyFu are powerful tools you can use to do backend research. They provide insight into a domain’s keyword landscape, PPC activity, social media presence, and possible architectural errors.

Competitor research isn’t about being a copycat. It’s about identifying the areas their website excels and figuring out how you can use your findings to take your website to the next level.

Design elements aside, cruise their domain statistics for marketing points like:

  • Top ranking keywords for your industry
  • Keywords that are easy wins
  • Which marketing channels they have the most success with
  • What software are they using
  • Who are your top-ranked competitors
  • Are they running digital advertising
  • Are you finding strategical or tactical trends between competitors
  • Which social platforms are they engaging with
  • Where are their most effective backlinks coming from

Strategy Wrap Up

Getting together your website redesign strategy is only the first step in this long process. However, it is the building block that sets the stage for either the success or failure of your new site.

In phase two, I will explain the project steps of creating a website redesign process plan.

It will cover essential details about link architecture, hosting, security needs, URL mapping, sitemaps, redirecting outdated links, and starting a content plan.

Need help taking the first step in your website redesign project?

website redesign template

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