When the time comes to make a website redesign, you want to make the most of the opportunity-far too many businesses fall into a trap of making a ‘different’ site that isn’t substantially better. The best sites do more than look pretty and present a pain-free browsing experience, they subtle guide your visitors to take the actions you want them to take, to come back for more, to spend money and make you profit. Today, we’re going to cover 10 tips to make a website redesign work for you the way it should.
1. Establish goals
Before you even think the first thought of redesign, you want to consider what you’re aiming for with your website. Is it intended to act as a brand enhancer, not something of much practical use but a site you have because respectable businesses need respectable websites? Do you want to make sales through it, generate buzz, nurture potential leads for sales agents to engage? These questions will inform your design in a major way-so figure out what you need first, so you can build a site that does what you want it to.
2. Build for improvement
You want to build a website you can improve down the line, and which improves the way you do business in general. In short, you need a site that’s flexible enough to make updates and changes simple, and packed with the tools necessary to collect data on usage. You want to be able to see that visitors get bored with a certain page and leave, but almost always buy when they make one more step to a different page—then you want to be able to adjust and tweak until more visitors make that last jump, whatever that might take.
3. Shape your content with intent
The writing, videos, pictures, etc. on your site shouldn’t just be noise to keep Google happy or ‘what every other site has’. It should be tailored to your goals and your visitors, in order to create the maximum impact and get you closer to what you want. Looking to nurture long-term leads? Take it slow, build your authority, then move them towards contacting a sales agent. Looking to rapidly close sales on impulse items? Go with hard selling landing pages, enthusiastic reviews, etc. Make content that assists your goals, and never use content that works against them or leads to pointless meandering.
4. Use templates to your advantage
When you make a website redesign, make sure you set yourself up some convenient templates, layouts to assist your content in making sales, leads, or buzz. For example, a template that limits sidebars and other distractions can be great to use for articles you need visitors to finish; a different one, with all sorts of interesting side items, can be a great way to great first-time visitors you’re not looking to close right away.
5. Keep things fresh
Make sure you design your site with updates in mind; a site you make and leave to its own devices quickly grows outdated and useless. There’s a reason most sites include a blog or blog-like news roll these days; it creates a simple way to add fresh content on a regular basis, gives visitors a reason to come back, and ultimately represents one of the best possible ROIs for web content.
6. Go scalable, not mobile
With the growth of mobile browsing, making your site mobile-friendly should be a top priority, but the smart route for that is not to implement a separate mobile site. Rather, look into so-called scalable web development: an approach which generates websites which will adapt to fit on any device, working for anything from a tiny cellphone screen to a massive 4k monitor. This eliminates gaps in your device coverage, it makes for better SEO, and it creates a more consistent user experience. Win/win/win.
7. Make the most of your SEO
Search engine optimization is a crucial aspect of any modern website, so make sure you get it right. On-site SEO means natural keyword phrases, tangentially related keyword phrases, customized meta descriptions and tags, smart titles, URLs with the keyword included, etc. It’s enough to make an entire series of articles, so do your research-and remember two things. One, on-site SEO is only half the battle, when it comes to getting Google’s attention. Two, any lazy or underhanded SEO tricks that work today will almost certainly backfire down the line.
8. Simple and functional trumps a pretty mess
An incredible display of Flash can make for an aesthetically impressive website, but it will be buggy, shut out a number of end users, and brutalize your SEO. Make sure your site is functional and reliable above all else-you can make it pretty as an afterthought.
9. Use professionals where needed
Can’t write? Make sure you hire professional writers. Can’t make decent logos or other graphics? Graphic design specialists exist for a reason. SEO driving you insane? Invest in a web marketing firm. The best thing you can do to make your site redesign work is to invest in talent where necessary-don’t let your site be less than it could be, because you insist on being a one-man show.
10. Sites don’t exist in a vacuum
Everything you do on your site only matters if people visit it. You need a campaign to get people to your site from Google searches (which means off-site SEO efforts), social media campaigns, Pay-Per-Click, word-of-mouth buzz, or some other method. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come-you have to earn their attention some other way. A good site’s for wowing the people who show up; figure out how you’re going to get them there, or you’re just wasting time.
Put these 10 tips into action, and you can be certain your redesign will drive up traffic, grant you new insight into how your customers use your site and buy your product, and provide endless opportunities to improve your bottom line.