The title of this blog suggests that you will already have a website and some form of SEO ranking. So I am assuming you have a site, it’s a few years old, maybe more and it’s time to blow away the cobwebs. When you hear the word redesign, you’re possibly going to be thinking more about changing the look and feel of the site rather than ensuring that the content, call to actions and user journey are right. But this is the perfect opportunity to do just that!
You may be familiar with the term “Digital Hoarding” – the habit of not removing redundant content from your website. This leads us on to tip one!
Don’t forget your 301 redirects
It can feel wonderful getting rid of all of those pages that were slowing you down, but before getting a bit click happy with the delete button there is something we must remember! 301 redirects! These fiddly little things will save you hours of headache in the long term if done right.
So, what is a 301 redirect?
We like to use the analogy of moving house and redirecting your post. When someone enters the address for a page or clicks on a link that they have favourited they are taken to a page. If the actual link is altered in any way or the page itself is deleted making the link void, their favourite link will no longer work unless we set up a 301.
You may have had this happen to you before when you see the big 404 ERROR. You click off, you disengage with the page. So to make sure that this does not happen, remember your 301 redirects. If you have an Intergage CMS, it’s simple to do; you take the old URL and paste it into the “links name” box in the page properties of the page you wish that link to go to. That way, whether it’s redirecting traffic from a page that has been deleted or a page that has had its URL altered, it will still go where it needs to go! The consequences if you do not do this? Well Google will crawl it as a brand new page and you’ll lose any of the “link juice” that you have built up over time with the page.
Be careful with big images
For a lot of modern websites it is all about the big imagery. Whether you’ve hired a decent photographer or raided iStock for a cheesy image of a boardroom, high quality, big imagery is in! With big imagery however, can come long load times. If your site has a massive image that takes ages to load when viewing on a phone (especially like an iPhone – other phones are available) it can deter users from using up precious data and waiting to see a bunch of flawless “office workers” with their thumbs up.
You get my point anyway, if you want to check if your site is slow, Google has an excellent little tool called PageSpeed Insights. Click through, take a look and see what it says about your site.
Are you transferring all of your existing content? This is one of the first questions I ask when a client is looking to rebuild their site or redesign it. Is that happening and who is going to be responsible for it? Because one of the things that can unfortunately and easily be forgotten is the Meta Data! These are the elements behind a page that back up what is on the page. The two most important are the title tag and the description tag. Make sure you carry these across! They should be done around the same time as 301 redirects (before the site goes live) to ensure that you are thoroughly moving everything across.
Carry across Google Analytics
You keep your Google Analytics account! Keep the same UA number, login, everything! You don’t just have a clean start with a new website, don’t forget to keep that login safe because it is brilliant to just be able to compare year on year from where you are now and where you were five years ago! So much data has been stored up in there and to lose it is such a shame. It means you won’t have anything to use to see progress, no data to back up what good looks like! Make sure your goals are also carried across or if you didn’t have any on the old site, make sure that you do on this one. Goals are easy to set up and allow you to track where traffic has come from when completing “goals” that you have set in analytics.
Beauty over Brains Trap / Style over substance
For a lot of individuals, if their site was a car, they would want it to be a Ferrari. Some of us, have to settle for a Volkswagen Polo (I can say that because I own one). We can get lost in the competitor sites with really cool whizzy, rotating, magical buttons, that does this and that and music plays and it’s wonderful, but the question is, does it work?
Will it carry out the objectives you set out when you first discovered the site wasn’t doing what you wanted it to do anymore? Is this simply a face lift project to bring it into the modern world?
It’s important to keep it simple for usability. Google uses how long a user spends on your site as a ranking factor. If you provide a user journey that takes too much time to navigate menaing that users simply don’t bother, you run the risk of increasing bounce rate and decreasing how much time users engage with your site.
It’s great to have a website that portrays the business and it will be something that represents your business so getting it smart and functional is important. Do not get lost in the bells and whistles. Focus on what your clients need and want from your site (with the help of Google Analytics and several nifty tools that we use), use this as a base for your planning.