So It’s Finally Time To Redesign Your Website: A Checklist
As you know, your website is essentially your company’s digital salesperson. If it’s good at its job, you’ll do well. If not, you’re leaving money on the table.
You may have reached the point of decision and determined it’s time to act. Time to make a change. Time to redesign your website.
Wow… “redesign your website.” That phrase sounds expensive. And scary.
Our friends over at HubSpot recently released a free worksheet for business owners wanting to redesign their websites. This absurdly thorough resource takes you through every question you need to be asking as you plan, build, optimize, and analyze your new website.
Since HubSpot has already provided us with the questions, we’re going to be taking a look at what business owners should be considering as they answer questions at each stage. If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, go ahead and download the HubSpot worksheet so you can follow along.
Have you ever just started doing something without knowing exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish?
I have. Really. Bad. Strategy.
When you’re investing in a redesign, it’s incredibly important to have several important specifics nailed down. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The key to accomplishing goals is setting them in the first place. What are you hoping to accomplish with this redesign?
And no, “More sales!” is NOT the correct answer.
Let’s get numerical. How many more visitors, conversions, sales, etc. are you hoping to acquire? 1,000 more unique visitors per day? 10% increase in conversions? 23 more sales per week? Before you invest in change, you should have a defined numerical value for what you hope to accomplish.
While everyone’s favorite Harvard/Yale goal study is a myth, actual studies do demonstrate a positive correlation between defined, written-down goals and likelihood of success. Throw in some accountability with period progress reports, and you’re looking at a 178% increase in your likelihood of hitting the numbers you planned for.
This may seem like the most basic part of doing business, but you have to know your value proposition. I’ve worked with owners who couldn’t tell me why I should buy their product.
No one is going to be more passionate about your product/service than you are. Identifying what makes your business a unique, attractive option is the foundation of everything else you do.
Once you know what you are offering, you need to identify who wants it.
As a copywriter, it’s baffling to me how many business owners can’t identify their buyer persona. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how on Earth do you expect to sell them your product?
At worst, you should have a broad definition. Are you marketing to men or women? Are you marketing to younger people or older individuals? At best, you can identify a specific segment or even a number of segments that your product/service appeals to.
Strategy is all about getting specific.
Like strategy, planning is all about the specifics.
What specifically is lacking from your current website?
Sometimes, a website simply needs a face-lift, and that’s fine, but keep in mind that there are plenty of outdated websites raking in major revenue online. Even if you have nothing obviously dysfunctional to fix, a redesign is the perfect opportunity to optimize.
Whether it’s your CTA placement, navigation, or branding, having a clear idea of your desired improvements before beginning will allow for a much more efficient and effective redesign experience.
What is your marketing strategy?
This is one of the most important points to define in the strategy and planning stages. What will your marketing strategy be?
If you’re number-one goal is building an email list, your website could look much different than if your marketing strategy is focused on affiliate networks, PPC, or channeling users to your online store.
Most websites can be adjusted to facilitate a given marketing strategy, but doing a dedicated redesign is the perfect opportunity to customize your online platform specifically for your online strategy.
3. Design & Build
When initiating the design of your new website, there are a couple of helpful things to keep in mind.
If you outsource, make sure your designer is on the same page.
Planning the perfect website is fairly pointless if that website doesn’t get built. The following strategies can help ensure your designer starts and stays on the same page throughout the process.
- Order initial mockups rather than simply paying for a new site, sight unseen (total pun opportunity right there)
- Require concrete deadlines for project completion (references can help verify these will be followed through)
- Frequently check up on progress to ensure your site is matching your expectations
And for the love of all that is good and beautiful, give feedback and requested information to your designers in a timely manner. If you take weeks to respond to your designer’s emails, he/she won’t be able to meet promised deadlines.
There are a lot of all-in-one solutions that don’t require outsourcing or design expertise.
Every year, the barriers for entry into Web design are lowered. With all-in-one solutions like Hubspot and many others, you can build a completely new website with hardly any expertise and no need to outsource.
Will this give you the finished product you want? Maybe. Experts and experienced service providers are successful for a reason, and it ultimately depends on how much time and effort you want to spend on something unrelated to your business’ actual product/service. Additionally, some people can put the effort in and come out with a great website. Others can’t.
Remember that your site is an extension of your brand.
There is nothing wrong with building a beautiful website. I love beautiful websites.
Just remember that your website is an extension of your brand, and it should LOOK like an extension of your brand. While Jim Carrey’s artsy home page is visually interesting and uniquely captures his personality, it probably won’t do a great job of representing your pet care products.
In terms of look and feel, focus more on emphasizing your brand than creating a uniquely beautiful or clever site. At the end of the day, your primary (if not only) goal should be to increase your business’ profit. Don’t waste time and money on fancy or high-tech features unless they directly increase your income.
4. Analyze & Optimize
After you’ve built your new website, it’s time to start tweaking. Building based on universal conversion rules and best practices is recommended, but as I discussed in this article on testing, you never know what will work for your site until you test it out.
Start with the basics. Evaluate how your site performs in the following areas.
- Is your site multi-browser compatible?
- Is the navigation simple and intuitive?
- Are open graph tags properly set for easier social sharing?
- Are your analytics tools installed and running?
- Is your site optimized for mobile viewing (potentially nearly 40% of your traffic)
After you’ve been up and running long enough to adequately measure traffic and conversions, compare your data against past performance and evaluate your progress towards meeting those goals we discussed earlier.
If you’ve lost a step from your previous site, determine the cause. If you are performing better in certain areas, analyze where the increase is coming from and see if you can maximize it.
You don’t need to be an expert to build a high-performing website. You just need a few good tools and a commitment to constantly testing and improving what you have.