No business website can afford to stay static for very long. As technology and market conditions change, a company’s website must follow. Customers’ evolving needs demand that periodic redesigns take place. So it’s best to know what’s involved in the process and what you can do to produce an effective website redesign.
Identify your objectives. Many businesses are moved to redesign their websites in an effort to (a) increase lead conversion rates, (b) promote greater user engagement and (c) make the site more user-friendly. Whatever your goals, they should be clearly defined at the start so that both you and your website design team know precisely what you’re looking for. Every decision that’s made during the process should grow organically out of your original stated goals.
Build your design team. Long gone are the days where the same person designs the website, writes the copy and codes it. Your website is a foundational element in your marketing communications mix, so it’s critical all aspects of a redesign are considered. Here’s a list of critical members on a design team:
- Creative Director / Marketing Director – ensure your strategic marketing objectives are met and that your brand is presented in the best light possible.
- Project Manager – your day-to-day contact to manage and schedule all the moving parts of a website redesign process.
- Web Designer – determine the look and feel and functionality of the website to ensure it’s user-friendly.
- Web Developer – build, code and test the website so the design is translated perfectly and functionality requirements are met. The web developer can also recommend appropriate hosting for the new website.
- SEO Strategist – conducts keyword research to optimize the site.
- Copywriter – creates and/or edits content along with integrating SEO keywords.
Understand the redesign process. Each design team works differently, but in general, the basic process includes these steps:
- Discovery (Determining Objectives, Keyword Wishlists and Research)
- Planning (Site Maps, Content Strategy, Keyword Recommendations)
- Design (Wire frames, homepage and subpage designs)
- Development (Coding, testing and content entry)
- Launch (Setting up any page redirects and submitting sitemap to search engines)
Your input in several critical areas is absolutely necessary for the design team to achieve your stated goals. This includes providing a list of “must-haves” for the site, a list of pages, branding and style requirements, and providing the necessary content (more on this below). As part of the process, the designer will do the following:
- Present various page template designs for your review
- Gain consensus on sitemap, content strategy and keywords
- Program necessary functions and applications
- Add content (text and images) to working website
- Test the website for use in various browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, etc.)
Deliver the best content possible. An effective website redesign is only as good as the content the design team has to work with. Work on generating content that compels visitors to read further—from the home page or landing page all the way to clicking on “Buy.” Most design teams can assist with optimizing the content with keywords best suited for your business which will help boost your standing in various search engines. Content for forms and calls-to-action are also needed, however you can rely on your design team to present these in the most effective way possible.
Assist in the testing phase. Once the new website is set up and approved, designers will want to test it before the official live-date. During this quality assurance phase, you can help by checking off the following items:
- All pages look and function as demonstrated in the mock-up
- Identify any glitches
- Testing all forms and making sure they are going to the correct email addresses and/or CRM
- Ensure content is accurate
It’s a good idea to launch the new site during times of the least traffic – for B2B companies this means after normal business hours. This gives you and the design team the opportunity to pinpoint any kinks and make needed repairs when the fewest visitors will notice.
Use Google Analytics to measure user engagement. It’s not enough to unveil a flashy new website. You need to know whether your original goals are being met and how visitors are responding to the changes—in terms of increased traffic, reduced bounce rates and the degree of social media sharing that’s taking place.
Google Analytics is especially helpful in measuring customer engagement for B2B companies. Here are some key metrics covered by Google Analytics:
- Visits: How many times users visit your website
- Unique visits: The number of unduplicated visits to your site (different from one user’s multiple visits to the same page or site)
- Page Views: The total number of pages your visitors view
- Pages/Visit: How many pages, on average, each visitor goes to (the higher the number, the more visitors are interacting with the site)
- Average visit duration: The number of pages a user clicks on during a visit
- Bounce rate: A bounce rate measures how many people visit one page of your site and then leave. Here’s where a compelling call-to-action leads visitors elsewhere on your site.
- Percentage of new visits: The percentage of visitors who have not previously been to your website
Understanding the data provided by Google Analytics will enable you to modify your strategy and tweak the newly designed site to be even more effective.
One further point to consider before embarking on a website redesign: Do your best to limit the amount of input provided to the design team. Generally speaking, “design by committee” involves a time-consuming approval process and risks having too many opinions dilute or permanently alter your original redesign objectives.
This blog post was originally published on the SCORE Small Business Success Blog on February 20, 2014.