No matter how much you have spent on website design, every so often you will have to give it a makeover.
There are several reasons why this happens. It could be due to rebranding, moving to a different software base, such as changing content management system, or it could be that it is falling behind the competition in terms of quality.
You should never undertake a website redesign without also taking the opportunity to sharpen up how it works in terms of converting visitors into leads and sales.
So the important point to make up front is that a website redesign project is not about making your site look pretty, it’s goal is to enhance its usability to maximise its profitability.
A redesign project can rejuvenate your entire online business, or if it’s implemented badly then it can have the completely opposite effect. But the good news is that you are in control of whether this happens or not.
Insulate Yourself Against Bad Decision-Making
Two of the key dangers you need to watch out for during a redesign project is making do or making bad decisions. These two problems usually arise because redesign projects can be a long and tedious process, which can generate mistakes and poor decision-making, especially if they are poorly planned and executed. So it’s important you are vigilant.
In this article I’m going to give you the ultimate checklist to help you redesign your website to enhance your conversion rate. I’m going to split it into two parts.
Firstly, I’m going to give you a checklist of things you need to do before you start the actual redesign process. Then I’m going to give you a checklist of things you can weave into the redesign process to enhance the end result.
When put together, this ultimate checklist will greatly increase your chances of redeveloping your website into something truly spectacular, without bad decision-making or making do becoming a problem.
Pre-Project Redesign Checklist
- Analyse your current site metrics
There is no point in starting a redesign project to enhance conversions if you don’t know what works for your business at the minute.
Unless you analyse your current metrics then you could get rid of the things that work on your site and replace them with things that don’t, sending your conversion rate spiralling downwards.
At the very least you should look at:
- Numbers of visits
- Number of visitors
- Number of unique visitors
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Current keyword rankings and analysis
- Competitor analysis to spot opportunities
- Number of new leads and conversion rate
- Number of key form submissions
- Cost per lead
- Cost per sale
- Identify high and low performing landing pages
- Determine the goals for your redesign project
Now you understand how your current site is performing, you are in a position to create a redesign project that helps to address issues.
Understanding current issues and opportunities will allow you to build the goals you need to ensure that the redesign project is success. So looking at the analysis you have already done, highlight your strengths and weaknesses to ensure that strengths are maintained and weaknesses are addressed.
For example, you could have spotted that your bounce rate is high on all but a few pages. Your redesign project should then include changing the structure and content of those other pages to try and get a better conversion rate, by mirroring the successful pages more closely.
- Understand which channels deliver you the best traffic
Before you finalise your project goals, you should also analyse website traffic channels in detail.
For example, look at how much social media traffic you get. Where does it come from and what happens once it arrives on your site?
Then look at things like organic traffic and paid advertising traffic.
This analysis should help you to structure the project to better speak to the traffic you are getting from each source and to encourage this traffic to take action.
- Ring fence your assets
We touched on this in point 1. You should know what your best performing online infrastructure assets are.
These will include:
- Your most shared contents
- Your most viewed content
- Your pages that receive most traffic
- Your best performing conversion pages
- Your best performing keywords for rankings
- Your best webpages in terms of powerful inbound links
By understanding this you can ensure that key content is ring fenced to make sure that it is not affected during the redesign project.
I would advise you to not touch your best performing pages at all. Even small changes can alter rankings negatively, so if they are working well, just leave them as they are.
- Before you begin, redefine your USP
Your USP, Unique Selling Point, or your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) are key to your future success. By understanding these, you can define your position within your marketplace and ensure that the fresh website redesign buys into that position.
This can mean looking at your brand. Your logos, colours, style, language, pitch, information angle and strategies.
By understanding and redefining your USP, especially after undertaking fresh competitor research, you can strengthen your brand and then build this into your redesign project.
- Plan your redesign project around what people want
A redesign project will only bring in more sales if you speak directly to your visitors, help them and move them towards making a buying decision.
This means understanding who your customers are and what they want. It could mean creating customer profiles so that you can benchmark your redesign project at every stage to ensure that the new website speaks directly to these people.
I would go as far as to suggest that you create buyer profiles and create different landing pages for these people, depending on the keywords that are used to get there.
Ways you can create buyer profiles include analysing demographics, looking at data from questionnaires and feedback, looking at sales data and understanding what your core customer needs are.
Website Redesign Project Checklist
Now you have the detailed background information you need to make great decisions about your redesign project, it’s now time to consider “nuts and bolts” details you will need to implement in order to maximise your future advantage.
By doing these things you will also ensure that you get the best value for money from your redesign project.
- Make sure your site is fully optimised for search
This may sound completely obvious, but you will be amazed how many people go to all the trouble of redesigning a website and then fail to use search engine friendly URL structures for example.
There are also other search optimisation issues you need to take into consideration to ensure success. Firstly, make sure you set up a 301 redirect strategy for your project. If you have done your research properly then some pages may be redundant, or need moving. By implementing 301 redirects you can avoid losing any of your search engine rankings.
Secondly, make sure proper keyword research is a cornerstone of your redesign project. Take the opportunity to analyse existing content and ensure that interlinking and strengthening opportunities are taken.
- Create clear calls to action
It’s a great idea to plan to develop the best calls to action you can before implementation. This will mean that you are not casting around for words to use during the project.
Look at your best converting forms and pages and use the calls to action on those to form the basis of a unified call to action strategy across your site. Be consistent in your language and the hooks you use.
Clear calls to action are often the difference between a successful site and failing site. By being consistent and using your strongest ones you can maximise your chances of success.
- Make sure you cover all the interaction bases
Your website needs to speak to your visitors and encourage action. It should also be clear in terms of allowing them to opt in, share things and receive future information.
In particular you should carefully look at:
- Implementing a blog as part of an ongoing content management strategy
- Making sure mailing list options are obvious
- Still including an RSS subscription option
- Ensuring that your content has obvious social media sharing options
- Encouraging feedback through commenting and email wherever possible
- Check how your redesign will affect things externally
This could cover a multitude of things depending on how your online business is structured.
But as an example, if you are an online retailer then you might have product feeds logged on multiple sites. Product comparison sites and sites such as Amazon for example. These would need to be updated if your infrastructure changes.
Also look at external links back to your site. Will your Twitter bio now contain a redundant link, for example?
It’s little details around the edges like this which can make and break your overall success. If you ignore them then they can each contribute to a small drop in traffic and conversion rates that when put together is damaging.
- Make sure you feed the Google monster
Google likes you to do everything the way it tells you to. So when redesigning your site use it as an opportunity to revisit everything Google likes a site to include, both onsite and off.
Make sure your Google local business listings page is accurate, or create one if you have not yet done so.
These are all small things, but if you do everything right then you can raise your credibility with the two biggest search engines in the world, Google and YouTube.
- Use a mouse tracker program on your new site
You can never predict exactly how people react to a site design. Invest in some high quality heat map software (my two favourites are Clicktale and the heat map solution from SumoMe) so that you can see exactly how people are interacting with your website.
This will allow you to analyse the data to quickly make changes that are having a negative impact on your site.
- Put aside time to analyse and react to your sites new design
No new site design will be 100% refined straight away. So it’s important that you have the resources on hand to react to issues you spot.
The first month after go live you, or somebody else in your business, should be analysing all the data around your website daily. This will allow you to see where things are going wrong and make rapid changes where necessary.
So it is vital that you have software set-up to monitor your new site and that you have the relevant people available to make those rapid changes as they are spotted.
What may appear as a minor issue could actually turn out in the long run to be the place where your best customers are slipping out of your sales funnel.
- Test, test, test before you set a new site live
This is another obvious step that lot’s of people still miss. There is no point in setting your shiny new site live if links don’t work, forms don’t work or some other key infrastructure is misbehaving.
At best you may turn a few potential customers away, at worst you could become the laughing stock of a social network.
Spend a week testing your site. Get lots of different people to test using it and give feedback. Then release the URL of your new site to trusted existing customers, such as those on your mailing list and offer them an incentive for giving real end-user feedback.
Things to check on during testing include:
- Checking your htaccess file is in place
- Visiting your link structure, taking into account things like no follow
- Checking your robots.txt file in detail
- Ensuring that complex infrastructure items, such as drop-down menus are crawlable
- Rebuilding and resubmitting your site map
The Key To A Successful Website Redesign Is Planning
As you’ve already seen there is an awful lot to take into account from this checklist.
The key to your success is to plan for every stage of the project. You need to make sure that you have all the information in place to plan properly and then to monitor that everything you have planned for is being implemented.
And you also need to plan for the unexpected. This is where post-launch monitoring comes in. Your launch does not finish the day your new site goes live.
A top tip for this is to set a project close date several weeks after the website goes live. This should be used for planned and structured monitoring, alongside rapid redevelopment where necessary.
By planning thoroughly and understanding exactly what needs to be done, you can be in full control of your website redesign project and give yourself the best chance of getting more leads and sales.
If you have an existing online business and you would like to discuss anything I’ve spoken about here, or you would like to find out more about the opportunities I can create for your business, then pick up the phone and call me today for an informal chat.