Redesigning your company’s website is not just about creating something new and pretty. A successful website redesign project should include details about your, immediate and long-term goals, market or audience, content, search engine optimization, color schemes, website hosting, and more.
The following points are important to a complete website redesign project.
1. Improvement – What would you like to improve? Is the design outdated? Are you unhappy with the color scheme? Is the content quality poor? Are your search engine rankings poor? You have to come up with an outline of improvements. Don’t worry about making this a very detailed list yet. It is only an outline. Your website improvement outline will be your starting point.
2. Audience – Answer this question, “Who is going to visit your website and why?” Once you know your audience you can determine design and content elements. A website with a professional audience is going to look, feel, and read very differently than a website that is targeting teenage gamers. Don’t try to change your audience. Your job is to cater to their needs. There is not a right or a wrong website, but there is a right or a wrong website for your market. Include appropriate calls to actions. What do you want them to do? Do you want them to call you, fill out a form, download a document? Tell them how to do it, and make it easy.
3. Budget – We often get calls from companies that want a new website designed or want to have their business website redesigned and they don’t have a clue about their budget. That’s like going on a road trip without a destination. It costs money to hire a professional. Setting your budget tells me that you have given it serious thought. It also helps you to know what you can afford. If you have a very low budget you might need to wait or break the project into multiple phases.
4. Competition – We all have competition and studying them is good for you, even when it comes to their websites. Copying them is never a good idea, but you should be aware of what they are doing. Review their design, content, calls to action, search engine rankings, etc. You might be able to improve on some things they are doing or avoid others that you think are hurtful such as old and stale content.
5. Differentiate – The most successful companies are masters at differentiation. Turn your website into a differentiation machine. Explain what makes you better from competing businesses. Don’t use words like “great customer service.” Try to describe it in an actual story. People love to read stories. Don’t bore them with cliches. Describe, whatever makes you better, in real words.
6. Content – Content, unlike wine, doesn’t improve with age. The older it is the less value it has. Your website redesign project is incomplete without improving your content. Determine your content strategy going forward. Can you handle the content development in-house, or do you have to hire a content writer? Either way, content development is a key part of a great web presence. Content comes in many shapes and forms. You can have text, audio, video, images. You don’t have to have all, but it wouldn’t hurt because different people consume content differently. Some people prefer to read while others much rather watch videos or listen to podcasts. The more options you give people to consume content the more likely will they spend time on your website.
7. Hosting – It is tempting to go with a cheap web hosting company. There are so many of them with pretty websites and all. The problem is cheap hosting is just that, Cheap. You get cheap quality service, cheap web servers, cheap support, cheap everything. Cheap hosting can hurt you in many ways. A cheap host will be hacked often and you will end up with malware on your website. The malware will get your site blacklisted by Google. What that means is Google will drop your site from its database and when the next time someone tries to search for your company online your site will be gone. Saving a few bucks a month on hosting can cost you thousands in loss of revenue.
8. Deadline – Set multiple deadlines for your project. Break your website redesign project into phases and set a deadline to each phase. We have clients that paralyze their own projects by dilly-dallying. They agonize over little things that won’t make any difference. Set realistic deadlines and stick to them.
9. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Most businesses are clueless of the importance of SEO. The few businesses that have an idea about SEO are clueless about what it takes to have high rankings for competitive keywords. Understanding that it takes time and it requires time and money to properly SEO your site is a good start. A brand new website will be at a disadvantage compared to a competing website that has been online for years. Websites with great content are the beginning of good SEO. By great content I mean content updated frequently that is read, saved and shared by your site visitors. Then, you need to worry about getting other sites to link back to your website. The more sites link to your site the better. SEO is your way to outrank your competition.
Website redesign is a complex project, but it is worth it. It gives you an opportunity to give new energy to your web presence. If you hire the right web designer, you will have a highly valuable asset.