October 12, 2015
As the digital space continually transitions to new heights of intuitive design and streamlined user experiences, websites are in constant need of updating and revaluating. Occasionally, either through business decisions or outright necessity, brands must rethink and rebuild websites from the ground up. This can be a delicate balancing act that in many ways requires more forward thinking than a phase 1 launch.
Performing a complete website facelift requires careful consideration of redesign opportunities that will best serve the brand and consumers alike. There are certain elements that must be present in any website for it to be considered a success.
Before any decisions are made, it is crucial to establish why the site needs a makeover. Once you carefully articulate your goals for the redesign, it’s time to craft a foolproof launch strategy.
Here are the steps you must implement in order to pull off this feat with grace and fluidity:
Step 1: Drafting Your Strategy for Success
A well-defined strategy is crucial for mitigating the possible risks associated with a relaunch and attaining goals in a reasonable manner. During the planning phase is it imperative that you:
- Analyze site metrics and assets: To determine this information, you should test everything on your site from the header, to CTA’s, to blog content to see which variables have the greatest impact on conversion. This will also help you determine what elements can be retained if your budget won’t allow for everything to be changed at once.
- Define your brand: This part should already be established, although, if it has not, now is the time to do so. Consistent brand messaging and imagery is vital to the consumer experience. Visitors should understand the value your company can provide within 3 to 5 seconds of landing on your site.
- Size up the competition: It is important to know who you are up against and what they have to offer. Take note on the aspects of competitor sites that you like, don’t like, and what you think you can do better. This will help to formulate ideas about the site to come.
- Determine buyer personas: Who is your ideal customer, and what do they look for in a website? What are their pain-points and interests? What type of terminology will resonate with them most? These are the types of questions you should develop detailed responses to.
Step 2: Outlining a Plan of Action
Once all of this information has been established and compiled, it is time to start building the plan. Here is where your timeline and budget should be outlined. Realistic expectations should be set in accordance with the allocated budget. Every aspect of your site may not be (or even need to be) totally transformed.
During the planning process, it is important to:
- Select a CMS platform if you will be moving away from your current one
- Establish the fundamental architecture of the site
- Determine hosting
- Plan URL mapping and redirects
- Outline a content plan
- Draft the entire website flow
- Have a clear plan for mobile too (responsive design is most common)
All throughout this process you should be asking yourself meaningful questions that will help shape the site such as, “What is your current site lacking?” “What about your site is unappealing?” and so forth. Be sure to honestly evaluate your site and answer these questions before moving on to design and development.
Step 3: Design For Your Audience
Wireframes are often skipped in a relaunch, but are crucial to overall success. These will provide a step-by-step visualization of how the site should flow from page to page and how those pages will appear. Remember when designing these wireframes to include CTA’s and guiding features that will lead visitors to desired actions. That is the ultimate goal; pushing users further down the conversion funnel.
Once you have the supporting documentation, you’re ready to work with a designer and developer to produce your site.
Step 4: Optimize, Finalize, and Launch
Once you have a working redesign, consider these points as you prepare your relaunch:
- Final edits and reviews: Ensure that everything on your site is correct and working properly. Review the copy for errors, fact check content, ensure links and redirects are not broken, verify the site is mobile-friendly and responsive. If you are changing your URL structure, make sure to add no-follow links to content that is no longer relevant, and meticulously check all links.
- Ensure SEO optimization: Make sure various keywords are present but not overly used, navigation is clear, and everything can be easily shared. Be prepared to alert Google and Bing to your new site if it will be hosted on a new domain.
- Analytics: It is critical to have all of your analytics tools in place before the launch, otherwise, how will you know how well your site is performing? It is also advisable to try to use the same analytics platforms as you did on your previous site to maximize comparison data.
Now send your new creation out into the world!
Step 5: Promote and Analyze
Now the real work begins. Keep constant tabs on site metrics, pay close attention to functionality, and continuously test new features and updates as you revise the site. While this is now brand new, it will need to continue its evolution to stay current.
And, of course, now your marketing efforts kick into high gear again too. Consider including your new look as an asset to your messages; it may entice old customers to come back and see what’s improved.
Finally, don’t forget to test everything across all browsers and devices; each has their own requirements and you want to make sure your site looks fantastic on every screen across the globe.
Have you ever gone through a redesign? What steps did you take to ensure a smooth transition?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile