So you want to redesign your website?
You’ll probably go to your marketing/creative agency with a couple of examples of websites you like and they’ll be able to knock something up right? Unfortunately not…
There are so many factors to consider when looking to redesign your website and any half decent agency or developer would ask you to answer a good number of questions before even thinking about what your website will look like, how long it will take them to build it, or even providing you with a quote.
Anyone can create something beautiful, but not everyone can create something that works for you. The art in this is asking the difficult questions at the beginning of the project...
1. What’s Working Vs what’s Not Working?
One of the most important things to think about before redesigning your website is what is working and what isn’t working with the existing site. This will ensure things that do work are transferred across or even enhanced on the new website and keep the things that aren’t working in the past. If the way your site is structured doesn’t work for your audience, what’s the point in replicating this within the redesign? In the same way, if your tone of voice as a brand has evolved, why not use this as an opportunity to rewrite your website for the launch?
2. What do you need the Website To Do?
Before even thinking about what the new website might look like, you need to think about what you actually want it to do and why you need the website. Is it a lead generation tool? Is it a credibility check? Does it need to be competitive in search engines? These are all things that need to be identified before the redesign takes place so the project can be planned effectively and so the website can be built around your needs. If the website is a lead generation tool, it’s pretty important that it’s easily visible in search engines, has plenty of content to educated users and has a number of easy ways for users to get in contact with you. Which leads me onto my next question…
3. What Functionality to you need?
Recruitment agencies, retail businesses and membership organisations are all completely different and the likelihood is they will need completely different types of websites and website functionality. For example, the ability to list and manage job vacancies, the ability to sell products online through an e-commerce system or the ability to search for other members of an organisation in your area are all things a website can do. Understanding what functionality requirements you need up front will make the design process more efficient and will ultimately ensure that there are no after thoughts like ‘ I have a job vacancy I need filling in 2 weeks and nowhere to display this on the website’.
4. What Content Do You Have?
Just because you have enough content to fill all the gaps in your existing website, doesn’t mean this will be true once the website has been redesigned. Your site structure might change and there may be new pages that you will need to think about writing. Not only this, but the imagery and video content you have on your existing site may not be compatible with the redesign. For example, new responsive websites often rely on having high quality, landscape images to fit in with the design. If your website is made up of low res, portrait images, it’s probably time to start sourcing some new ones.
Having a site map nailed down before starting a redesign project can make this step a hell of a lot easier as it can act as a check list for the content you need.
5. Who Is The Website For?
A common misconception in the market is that a website is a place for a business to talk about themselves, who they have worked with and how they can make your life so much easier. That might have worked once. But in today’s ‘buyers world’ talking about yourself won’t get you anywhere.
Instead, think about what your key Personas want to read about. What are their pain points? What leads them to making the buying decision? How can your service or product help them be more productive?
Don’t be fooled though, building out your Personas is no easy task and the likelihood is, you will need a third party to come in as a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to talk you through what kind of information you will need to build full Persona profiles. Our recent blog on personas takes a look at this in closer detail.
Essentially, don’t be that person that talks about themselves all the time, your website should be a portal for prospects to educate themselves and better understand your offering. But you can’t do this unless you know who your website is for.
6. How Will You Maintain The Site Once Live?
Another mistake many businesses make is believing that once the website is live, they can leave it to start raking in the leads and converting those leads into customers. In an ideal world, this would be the case. But this is the real world and things aren’t that simple.
What you really need to be doing is creating useful content relevant to your Personas’ pain points and triggers so they are able to educate themselves using the website.
This will not only position your business as a source of credible information, it will also initiate trust in readers, putting you ahead of the competition. Creating content is also one of the only ways you will truly get in Google's good books. Google loves, fresh and engaging content and the more users you have engaging with your content at a high level, the better the ranking from Google. But remember, you have to Provide the Right Content at The Right Time.
This is by no means a definitive list of questions you should ask yourself before undertaking a website redesign, but it is a solid start.