Almost every website undergoes some form of facelift at some point in their lifetime. So, if you own a website, whether it’s a personal or business website, it will need to be redesigned at some point in its life-cycle. Maybe, you’ve moved from one niche to another, or you may simply want to redesign your website for aesthetic reasons. Whatever, redesigning a website can a major undertaking, if you take your online presence seriously. So, we have compiled some tips on the factors you have to bear in mind, when trying to redesign your website.
What are the reasons for redesigning your website?
Perhaps, this is the most deceptively-complex question to ask, when trying to redesign a website. Yet, everyone agrees that it’s an obvious question, right? Before you begin the facelift, it’s essential to have a very clear vision of what you want to accomplish. Are you unhappy with the functionality of your current design? Do you simply want a more attractive website? Has your business grown so much and you want your site to reflect where you are today? Has your business focus shifted and it’s high time your website reflected your current business? Do you want to make your site more interactive? Or maybe you simply want a new website with better search engine-optimized web pages.
All the above-mentioned factors are worth your consideration. So, before you dive into website redesigning, make a comprehensive list of what you want to achieve. Doing this would help you to remain focused on the end goal throughout the website redesign process.
What form of redesign work is best for your needs?
By now I assume you have some clear reasons why you want to give your site a facelift. So, it’s time to decide the extent of the makeover. Maybe, only some minor content and visual modifications are actually needed. Or do you need to add some new features and even better optimize the underlying code-base? The factors that would help you to decide how far down the rabbit hole you’re willing to go are your design needs and budget. In some cases, a total overhaul may not be necessary, though it might as well be the most cost-effective long-term solution. So, we recommend that you take some moments to go through your needs and communicate them in clear details to your website designer. Hopefully, both of you would most likely strike a balance that best meets those needs without suffocating your wallet.
What currently works and what doesn’t?
Regardless of how small or large the redesign would be, there are chances some features of your existing design perform optimally, while some don’t deliver good results. Now go through your website, page-by-page, and identify what you want to keep and the ones that would be done away with. Check to see if your web pages aren’t user-friendly, or if the content is too verbose. On the other hand, your blog and image gallery may be driving enormous, targeted traffic to your site. So, you may want to keep them and every other thing that helps to increase your ROI (return on investment). While some elements of your existing website design would be done away with, some would need to be fine-tuned to be in line with modern trends. So, some design elements would remain; though would use a minor makeover to be in line with the entire new design. The best way to approach this stage is to break the entire website down into its major components, and then compare them with the goals you decided on in step #1 and the over-all vision you have for the website. If any element doesn’t align well, just dump it!
How do visitors use your website?
Make it a point of duty to ascertain how your target audiences are interacting with your website. What are their entry points? Which web pages are mostly viewed? What information interests them most? Check to see the keywords that drive high volumes of traffic to the site. What are the sales conversion rates of those keywords? What is the bounce rate of each web page? You can use web analytics like Google Analytics or software like Market Samurai to find out those statistics. Using analytics tools will help you to better understand your visitors, their data needs, as well as to identify the elements of your current design that works well and also the problem areas. Moreover, have a closer look at your visitors’ browsers and screen resolutions. Provide your web designer all your findings. Maybe, your site’s technical specifications can use some fine-tuning, to meet the needs of your target audience. You might even need a mobile version of the site. That’s assuming a high percentage of your visitors arrive via mobile devices.
Has your corporate image or brand changed?
If your corporate image and/or brand have changed in any way, then, those changes need to be reflected on your website, regardless of how minor they might be. If your philosophy or company image has shifted, consider an overhaul of your site’s color scheme and make sure you update your logo. In the age of the Internet, your website is most likely the first impression people get of your business. Thus, its growth and maturity should be in line with the rest of your brand identity.
What’s the right timing and how to roll out your redesigned website?
The timing and how your redesigned website is launched can have the capability of creating a big impact that would subsequently generate a substantial buzz about the website and your products/services. You can either choose to quietly roll out the enhancements, stage-by-stage, or you can announce a big launch to your target audience via press releases, social media, etc. Even though inconspicuous launching of a redesigned website won’t generate a lot of buzz about your offerings, but at least it would still accomplish your goal of enhancing the site’s performance and user experience. On the other hand, creating a buzz about your site’s new features can help to drive enormous traffic and generate more exposure for your products and/or services.
Why you should make a smoother transition.
Notable researches show that majority of repeat visitors are generally intimidated by design modifications. If your website attracts lots of repeat visitors, be aware that a sudden, drastic change in shape and functionality can make some of them uncomfortable. Moreover, you should never allow a redesign to destroy your search engine rankings, as well as the backlinks you’ve painstakingly acquired over the years.
The key to achieving a smoother transition is to make the vital elements of the new design, such as the header and the main navigation, similar to the old design. A seasoned web designer will always strive to make a redesigned website to be an evolution of the old one, and not a drastic replacement. If you opt for a drastic change, then, it’s best to publish a press release (PR) or blog post to discuss the modifications with your site’s users.
To make transition effortless for web crawlers, we recommend you redirect moved content with 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is used to notify user agents (clients) that the requested web content has been permanently moved from one location to another. It’s also important to customize your error 404 “Page Not Found” page in a way to contain helpful information to your human visitors. Such helpful information should be relevant to the content the visitor requested.