Are you gearing up to revamp your current site? In order to launch a successful redesign or refresh, you’ll need to make sure the basics are taken care of. In our guide below are 8 essential items that should be on your website redesign checklist.
1. Establish Your Current Benchmarks
In order for your website redesign to be successful, first you have to define success. That means establishing a benchmark of where you are currently at, to track future improvement after you’ve launched the new site. You’ll need to determine:
– Number of monthly visits and unique visitors.
– The bounce rate—when visitors leave.
– Time on site—how long they stay and explore.
– Your SEO ranking for certain keywords.
– Number of leads—how many people provide information to explore buying.
– Number of sales—how much money you’re taking in, if you’re collecting payments online.
You’re going to need these numbers later, to see if they improve after the redesign. For ease of use, just set up a Google Spreadsheet Doc and create new tabs for each month.
2. Be Clear About Why You Need a New Website
The most successful redesigns are done to fix something that could be working better. Maybe customers can’t find products easily, or the content is too cluttered. Or in fact maybe it’s outdated and it looks like it is from 2007 (roughly 600 years in web-years). Although it may seem compelling to do a website redesign to keep up with exciting technology, this can sometimes backfire. This attitude is what lead to the proliferation of intro videos that use Flash animation—it was fine years and years ago, but isn’t okay anymore, especially since users expect sites to load in 3 seconds or less.
Your site redesign should be driven by need, and another great place to start is User Experience (UX). The most basic measure of a site’s success is the task-completion rate your users are doing. This is the percentage of users who can do what your site says it’s capable of. According to a report from Measuring Usability, only 78% of sites meet this criterion. More than 1 in 5 sites can’t meet the basic standard for functionality. The shockingly high percentage means that there’s a lot of improvements necessary across the web—and your site may be one of them.
3. Make Sure the New Design Is Responsive
Basically responsive means that your website resizes and looks great for your visitors across all devices. From desktop to tablets to smartphones, no one will need to be pinching and zooming to try and read your content. Besides the fact that your audience loves it, it also has great SEO benefits because these sites are favored by Google. Also you only have to update the website in one place, versus having a separate mobile site and having two places to update copy/content/etc.
This wasn’t necessary 5 years ago, but today it is. The last few years have seen an explosion in mobile device usage. Between 2012 and 2013, mobile usage doubled, and these numbers will only increase. Smartphones aren’t just to take the edge off of a commute, either. According to a Google study, almost 77% of mobile searches happen at work or at home.
Given the prevalence of mobile, a site that’s not responsive will be DOA. Don’t botch a redesign by not considering mobile needs.
4. When In Doubt, Keep It Simple
User expectations change over time, and the longtime consensus is that simpler is better. A Google search for “Clean Simple Design” returns millions of results, lauding the attractive minimalism that users have come to expect. If you are trying to balanace out a content-heavy site with simplicity, that’s is where some serious UX planning can come into play.
Last year, for instance, the online magazine Slate unveiled a much busier redesign to try to please mobile users. The reviews were harsh, ranging from “Slate missed the lesson” of better redesigns to “OMG, the Slate redesign is killing me!” People expect simpler design.
5. Create a List of Functional Requirements
Get really clear on any new functionality that you would like to include. Be sure to list, page by page, all of the actions that you want the user to be able to take on the website.
In addition to functionality, it’s never to early to start gathering all of your content including copy and images. Remember that people mostly scan websites so lengthy technical documents can be downloads or separate pages. Keep your messaging focused and invest in high quality images or custom graphics.
6. Test Your UX Before or After You Launch
If you have the budget and time, then test your UX before launch. This might cause you to make some changes, but the results may be well worth it. Or go ahead and get a beta version live as soon as possible and improve over time.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can crowdsource a UX test through sites like Five Second Test or Try My UI. However, testing is worth investing in, because great, functional UX is an essential part of a web redesign checklist.
7. Make Sure Your Content Is Easy To Share
Now that you’ve put all this work into a redesign, you need to get the word out. Make it easy for your fans and followers to spread your message on social media. With plugins from social sites suchs as Share This and Add This, it’s easy to allow visitors to share your stuff.
8. Schedule a Reminder to Check Your Analytics
At around 30-60 bdays after you launch, go back and compare your new metrics to the old ones you benchmarked prior to launch. If you’ve followed all the steps, you’ve fixed problems that had been vexing prospective customers before. Now, they should have a great experience on your beautiful new site.
Are you planning a website redesign and looking for guidance based on your specific business and needs? Contact us for a no obligation consultation, and we’ll help you gain more clarity and focus regarding your digital strategy.