At one point or another, it’ll be time to redesign your website.
A redesign can take months to complete and requires a huge investment of resources, which is why every redesign needs to start with a clear set of expectations. If you know the problems you want to solve from the beginning, you can streamline the build and wind up with a successful website.
There are 4 overarching phases of a website redesign: research, strategy, design, and develop. Arguably strategy is one of the most important phases. Without a solid strategy you’re likely to spend a great deal of time and money, only to end up with a website that flops. With a strategy in place your redesign will be a great success.
Let’s go into detail about what a redesign strategy should look like.
Determine your goals
The first step is to take a hard look at the motivation driving the redesign. If your motivation is “my site looks outdated” or “it’s been a while since we had it done”, you’re going to have to have better reasoning. Think about results you want to get in terms of sales and leads. What do you want the redesigned site to accomplish for your business? Be clear with your goals right up front.
As you brainstorm your goals, make them measurable and specific. Consider some of these goals:
- Increase website traffic
- Increase time spent on website
- Build mailing lists
- Increase number of new leads
- Increase sales or purchases
- Increase engagement with specific audiences
- Reduce bounce rates
- Improve SEO performance with keywords
You could also have goals such as increasing subscriptions, attracting more YouTube followers, or introducing products to a new market sector. Goals tend to have a domino effect. If you want more form submissions, you’ll also have to decrease bounce rate, increase traffic and increase the time people spend on your site.
Do you really need a redesign?
Maybe not. You might be able to achieve the same goals by adding landing pages or adjusting content. If building your mailing list is a goal, you could try changing the placement or copy for opt-ins. Defining your goals will help you decide either way. If it is a redesign, goals will help you set expectations and milestones to streamline the build.
Give some thought to your messaging
Before you get started, take a look at your overall branding and messaging. Make sure your value proposition is crystal clear because that’s what you’ll be reinforcing throughout your website. There are probably a few things triggering the redesign. Maybe you’re introducing a product or targeting new markets. Or maybe your business has shifted and your messaging doesn’t match. Or it’s not making a connection with people.
This is the time to solidify your value proposition or positioning statement. Think about what you do, who you help, and how you help them. Your first draft will probably sound like some technical jargon that has you scratching your head. Keep drilling down until the value you provide is simple and easy to remember. One or two sentences should do it. If you need help, check out this article for some positioning statement guidelines and templates.
Create Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are representations of your target customer or customers based on market research. They’re semi-fictional descriptions of actual people and include demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals. Personas should be as detailed as possible.
Buyer personas provide tremendous structure for your business. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, how to tailor your marketing messages, and guide product development. As a result, you will be able to personalize your conversations and attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.
Don’t confuse buyer personas with target markets. Target markets describe market sectors and groups of customers. Let’s say one of your target markets is accounting firms with annual revenues of $2 million. Your buyer personas would be descriptions of specific individuals that would influence buying decisions for your particular product or service. As an example, you might have one persona for John the Partner and another for Mary the Marketing Director.
If you’re a fitness trainer, your target market may not be companies but individual people. Let’s say your ideal customers are stay-at-home moms and professional women. You would create several personas that describe the daily routine, motivations, goals and concerns of each woman who represents your ideal customer.
Analyze your old site’s performance
Even if your goals don’t include increasing search traffic (I highly recommend they do!), take a look at the metrics of your current website and make note of how it’s performing. This way you’ll know which pages are the most and least valuable in terms of search engine optimization.
Include a plan to incorporate your most searched and shared content and most popular pages and keywords. You want your new site to improve the performance of these assets, rather than eliminate or diminish them due to poor planning.
Start by looking at the statistics for areas such as:
- Number of unique visits, visits, and visitors
- Time spent on site
- Bounce rate
- Search queries – make note of highest ranking keywords
- Highest ranking landing pages
- Total number of pages indexed
- Total number of lead form submission
The way to access this information is through Google Analytics, so if you haven’t already done so consider creating an account and adding the tracking code to your site.
Look at the competition
Take a look at the competition in your industry. Make a list of 3-5 competitor websites that you really like with some reasons why you like them. This will get you thinking about possibilities for your redesign. You may like the color palettes, site structures, or brand voice. The best-designed sites are ones that are easy to use and engaging, so you may not notice what you like about them right away. Putting your observations on paper will force you to look at your redesign with a laser focus rather than random generalities.
While you’re looking at your competition, make note of the keywords for which they are ranking. What are the 10 most competitive ones? This will give you an idea of how difficult it will be to rank for the same keywords and whether or not you have the bandwidth to pursue them.
Once you’ve taken a look at the competition, create a list of keywords for which you want your website to be found. Don’t forget to include any current high performing keywords that are relevant to your business. Try to come up with 30 and then narrow that list down to 10. Here’s where you use the insight from your competitor and website analysis to determine which keywords are top priority for your business and how to tackle highly competitive keywords. You may want to target less popular keywords that are related to your competitors’ keywords, but won’t put you up against them fresh out of the gate. When you’re starting out, it’s best to go for low-hanging fruit that will still bring you traffic, and then scale up from there.
Generally speaking, you want to go after keyword phrases, rather than one single keyword. It’s going to be nearly impossible to get results from the keyword “diabetes”. It’s simply too broad and your chances of being found are zero. For better results add some context to your keywords such as “diabetes in kids under 10” or “home remedies to prevent diabetes”.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, use these keywords as a guide for your site structure. You want to have separate pages assigned for each keyword. Don’t lump them all on one main landing page with only a brief description for each. Search engines crawl web pages looking for tags and content to tell them what each page is about. If you have many different keywords on a page, Google will have a hard time analyzing your priority keyword. Your chances of ranking high will be much greater if you stick to one keyword per page with that same keyword repeated a few times.
A good example of this is a company Services page. I’ve seen many company websites that only have a landing page listing their services. The problem with this is that there are just too many different keywords on the page. What you want to do is use that same landing page, and then link out each service to its own dedicated page where you provide a description of about 500 words. This will do two things: 1) give your visitors more information, which is always good; and 2) please Google with your laser focus on one keyword.
Identify 301 redirects
Once you’ve outlined you new site structure you’ll know if any of your current pages are changing. Make a list of: 1) pages that you’re keeping; 2) pages you’re deleting; and 3) any pages that will merge. You don’t have to do anything at this stage but create an Excel spreadsheet that documents the old and note what the corresponding new URLs will be. Later on you can have someone technical issue what’s called a 301 to redirect the old pages to the new pages. 301 redirects prevent visitors from getting a “Page not found” message when they’re sent to the old URL. They also protect your ranking for SEO pages by redirecting them to the correct URL.
Map out 30 days of content
SEO today is all about providing valuable content, and a redesign can light a fire on your content marketing. Take this opportunity to use your keywords and outline a 30-day content calendar.
To get started, focus on one keyword for the entire month. Decide how long each article will be, who on your team will be producing the content, and how frequently you’ll post. If you already are producing content, now would be a good time to re-evaluate your efforts. Make sure your content reflects the new findings from your research and optimize any existing articles to incorporate high priority keywords.
At the same time, think about a simple 15-page Ebook that visitors can download in exchange for their contact information. If you do focus your content on one keyword, you can easily take a few articles and combine them into one guide. This will set your website up for lead generation and list building.
At this point you should be ready to move on to the next phase.
Redesigning a website can really test your perseverance. It’s an undertaking that requires a huge investment on everyone’s part. Try not to cut any corners. If you hang in there and get it right, your new website will drive more traffic, convert more customers and generate revenue for your business. The next step from here is to incorporate your keywords into your site structure and start wireframing page templates. Turn your branding and messaging into content that: 1) fills the needs of your audiences, and 2) satisfies search engines for increased traffic. If you need help with any stage of your website redesign, please contact us.