If your business is considering a fresh website this year, there are big decisions ahead of you. We’ve put together a to-do list to help you prepare for a website redesign.
The dangers of designing without a website process.
A lack of website process, or processes that are underdeveloped, will lead you to three common pain points:
- A website that isn’t going to launch on time
- A website cost that’s more than originally agreed upon
- Writing WAY more content than you ever thought possible, in no time flat
Our experiences in guiding our clients through the website development process have shown us that for most brands and organizations, feeling “prepared” for the work that lies ahead can be elusive. A new website can do great things for your business, from improving your reputation to driving more leads and sales.
2. Understand your audience. Who will be using the website? What do you want them to think, feel, and do when they land on your site? Establishing your audience is the best place to start and will be your guiding light in every decision you make along the way. (Hint–you’ll probably find some internal disagreement on this one. Just be ready to listen, it’s a great learning opportunity.)
3. Development and testing. Now, that designs are complete, and there is some content written, this is where the real magic happens. Developers are amazing people who bring designs to life. In order to do this successfully, they follow a strict order of operations. First, they should tackle your global elements that appear across the entire website — usually the header and footer. Since these elements are across every single page of your website, it’s essential to have these in place and approved before further development starts. Then, they should get into the core of the execution, module development.
4. SEO. Another huge step when you prepare for a website redesign is SEO. Your old website will have built up domain authority over the years, and each piece of content has been crawled and indexed and ranked for countless terms. Failure to properly follow SEO best practices while migrating each piece of content to a new site can result in crawl errors, major red flags to search engines, and even penalties.
5. Technical Requirements. If the purpose of your website redesign is to be able to integrate a new sales or email platform, this is a no-brainer. But it’s still important to know exactly what you — and your visitors — need to be able to accomplish with the new website.
6. Ongoing Improvement
Yay! You’re done!! Well, not quite.
You can’t just launch your new website and forget about it, you should have a plan in place to make continuous improvements. Over time, your processes, team, services, prices, and even buyers will change and your website needs to change with them. It’s a living, breathing, hard-working member of your sales team and you need to make sure that it is always current and optimized to offer the best experience. With this in mind, you should regularly check your analytics, especially your conversion rates and user paths, to remain nimble and in service to your users. Plus, even with all the research and strategy in the world, every decision made on your website was just a prediction. You can’t really know how something will perform until it’s live. Every decision is a hypothesis that should be monitored, measured, and reported on.