Does your website look like it was built in the 1990s? Then it probably was. This is very common for many consultants and other professionals. But just because it’s starting to look a little rough around the edges, it’s not the right reason to undertake a redesign. After all, a new website takes time and costs money.
Before you pick up the phone, do a little pre-planning on your own. It will save you time and money in the long run. To help you think through big items, I thought it would be good to share the highlights of the standard website redesign process we use with every project. By understanding the steps and key decision points you will be better prepared when you’re ready to start.
Keep in mind creating a successful website is about 80% planning and 20% execution.
Website Redesign Process:
- Define the site’s purpose
- Set clear goals
- Determine technical requirements
- Clarify your target audience
- Refine your site’s primary message
- Create the design
- Outline site pages, their purpose and navigation
- Write and edit your content
- Develop the site (make it)
- Activate the site
Define Your Website’s Purpose
Before you can do anything, you have to define what the website is supposed to do. What exactly is the purpose of your website?
For most business-to-business websites, there are two main purposes. Your website might be an online brochure, which basically tells the world who you, what you do and how you can be reached. Or you may want the website to be an active part of your lead generation and sales efforts.
While they may look similar on the surface, these are two very different animals.
Set Clear Goals
As you would with an employee, it’s vital to set some clear goals for the site. This also gives clear direction to your designer and developer as to what the website is supposed to do.
Here are the key goals to consider:
- Number of visitors or visits
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Number of new leads
- Total sales
- SEO ranking for keywords
Bottom-line: you need to set clear objectives to traffic leads and sales.
Determine Technical Requirements
Once you understand your traffic and lead requirements, it’s important to take a hard look at what technology you’re going to require to support this activity. If you require 20,000 visits per day then you don’t want to host a website on a $10 per month shared hosting platform. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a website that generates hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue each year can be run on an inexpensive web host that’s better suited for a personal blog.
Search engines not only take into account your keywords and content, they also consider your website speed. A slow website will result in lower search rankings and worse yet, unhappy visitors. In fact, they won’t even take the time to get unhappy they’ll just leave and go to the next website.
When it comes to site performance, you have to consider other applications that may be necessary to meet your websites needs, like specialized databases, private client areas, video, downloads and other specialized content needs.
Beyond site performance, you also have to consider other applications that might be necessary to meet your website’s needs like specialized databases, advanced analytics, e-commerce, marketing automation, video and other specialized content needs.
Clarify Your Audience
In order to create an effective design, we have to know who you are speaking to. Not just the industry as a market, but who is your ideal prospect as a person? After all, people buy from people so don’t think if your ideal prospect as a collection of demographic information, think of them as a real person. In the marketing world, we call this a buyer persona.
Go beyond demographics and statistics and think of your ideal client as a real person. What’s their job, what obstacles do they face, what problems can you solve for them, how do they make decisions, where do they get their information, what do they value in a vendor or partner? If you take all of these things into consideration, you can communicate with your ideal prospect much more effectively and grab their attention.
Refine Your Overall Message
This speaks more for your homepage then any other part of your website. When somebody visits your homepage, what are the three most important things you want them to take away about your company? You only have a few seconds, so you can’t tell them everything. Don’t forget everybody is very busy, they’re completely overwhelmed with information so keep it simple. One of the biggest mistakes we see clients make is when they want to tell their entire story on one page. It doesn’t work that way.
If you can’t state your message in two sentences, then you haven’t worked on it enough.
So it bears repeating, what are the three most important things you want your ideal client to remember about your company? That’s it.
Create The Design
With all of this information in hand, it’s time to create a design that facilitates meeting your objectives. Typically, the design process is broken into several steps. They are:
- Mockups or wireframes
- Layout selection
- Color scheme selection
- Initial design
- Revision one if necessary
- Revision two if necessary
- Final approval
Outline Site Pages and Navigation
It’s important to understand that any page on your website can be a landing page. In fact, most of your visitors could visit your website without ever seeing the homepage. With this in mind, it’s important to clearly define each page on your website and it’s purpose.
These pages can include an about page, pages listing services and/or products, the contact page, frequently asked questions, pricing and packaging and pages that answer any other basic questions that your ideal prospect customers will have.
These pages are your opportunity to tell your story about how great you are.
In addition to the pages, it’s important to consider site navigation. How will visitors find these pages and navigate to the various sections of the website?
Create Written Content
The written content that goes within your site pages is the one area where we find clients have the most trouble. But it’s vitally important to tell your story in a clear, concise way and in plain, well-written English.
Once the copy is written, have it read and re-read by multiple individuals. I highly recommend having it reviewed by a professional editor. I know from personal experience that it’s very difficult to catch your own spelling and grammatical errors.
Develop The Site
This is the point where we take all of the information created above and turn it into something that you can actually see and use. The design is taken from a collection of images and turned into a functioning website. All the technical pieces to create the actions are pulled together to make the site work the way it’s supposed.
Also included in this step is any testing necessary to make sure all of these pieces work well together and the website functions properly.
Once everything is ready, someone in your organization gives the final approval. The site is then ready to be revealed to the world and promoted.