Functions required in website redesign
All websites will need a redesign at some stage. It may be prompted by a change in strategy; re-branding for instance or moving to a content marketing approach, or from a realisation that increasingly traffic to your website is from mobile devices and you need a mobile responsive site. Whatever the reason for your change the next considerations are the same. Your redesign should seek to fulfil marketing, technical and aesthetic functions.
You should already know what works and what doesn’t from your current site, if not, you will soon begin to find out when you undertake the first task when analysing your metrics.
- Benchmark your current metrics
There will be some standard metrics that you will collect, such as the number of unique visitors, that will help you compare your redesigned site to your current one but there may be many more, depending upon how your have your analytics engine configured. If your current site is only producing basic statistics then this needs to be urgently addressed in your re-design.
- Audit your assets
Ensure your existing content is doing their job. Bear in mind that traditional web design agencies are not marketeers and will not scope your pre-existing content. So you need to reassess all existing copy and media content, both by using your metrics and by consideration of how they fit in with the purpose of the re-design. Are the images of sufficient high quality to work with the newer devices such as the Apple Retina display? Are your existing keywords proving effective?
- Understand your competition
There are a variety of tools out there with which to help assess your competitions websites, which can be used alongside marketing, technical and design considerations. See what works on their site, it will help you with a SWOT analysis of your own.
- Setting your goals
What do you want from your new website? By deciding upon a set of goals you can not only measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, but establish Key Performance Indicators to keep your whole communications strategy on track. To help set your goals you should strongly consider adding an editorial calendar to your CMS.
- Checking your channels
What are the relationships between your website and your other channels, for instance social media? During the re-design process take the opportunity to see how your different channels can best work together and multiply your messaging.
- Design your site around persona’s
Does your content satisfy the range of demographics reflected in your site visitors? This is what creating ‘personas‘ is all about. A marketeer
- Optimise your site for search
Note the most used search terms that your previous site successfully attracted (note the near misses too) and use these to help your users find your content. Keep an eye on any 301 redirects to, this helps retain your visitors.
- Enhance your USP
Your previous data will greatly assist you in realising whether or not your Unique Selling Points are resonating with your site visitors. The re-design process presents the ideal opportunity to refine or clarify your USP. For ourselves we understood that our offer of supplying strategic communications, coupled with website development was not clear enough, that was sufficient for us to redesign our site.
- Calls to action
Are your existing calls to action clear? Are they leading to conversions? If not then they need to be designed into the new site.
- Ensure engaging content
Content is King, so the saying goes. It takes effort and consistency, but if you aim to be informative and persuasive it will fail without appropriate content.
- Determining your CMS
Using a Content Management System for your website has many advantages, choosing the right one though is essential. To do this requires an understanding of how your organisation plan to deliver content. If your organisation works in silos, with the technical department responsible for all content delivery the choice is wider. However, if you wish to spread the work involved in delivering content across your staff team, and want to avoid the slow roll-out of costly training, using an Open Source platform such as WordPress makes sense. We chose WordPress with the Genesis Framework.
- Configuring your Hierarchy
Structuring your website hierarchically makes sense. It can though be a complicated process, depending upon your organisation. The efforts put into this stage of the design process though will bear fruit, if done well, as it will provide greater insights into how your visitors interact with your content and make the crucial role of the site Editor so much easier.
- Managing your data
If your organization utilises a Customer Relationship Management system, can it link in to your website? There are many advantages, from a communications perspective, of enabling interactions between a CMS driven website linked to a CRM. Doing this in a cost effective manner though can be troublesome and / or expensive. It is all part of data-flow management considerations. How can you best utilise the data derived from your site to provide business intelligence?
Security needs to be a business concern for all organisations, especially in the digital domain. Security starts from an organisational cultural level, it is not confined to technical considerations. Any re-design for a website needs to consider a whole series of factors to mitigate against risks. Basic things to consider are: encryption of log in pages, connections, server side data validation, authentication methods, and redundancy. Also users. It’s no good having a key driven secure authentication connection if your users are too casual with their keys.
- Design over functionality
Having strategic input in writing the website design brief is essential. Left solely to designers there is a risk that the intended functionality of the new website will be diminished. Usability for your site visitors can not be overestimated and consequently should not be under budgeted. The site should serve the needs of visitors above a companies desires, or those of the web designer.
- Functionality with no design flair
Similarly website design left solely to the technicians bears the risk that the site may function well but the aesthetic considerations are not fully realised resulting in less user interest in your site. For example, from a technical perspective the design may look to support legacy browsers and in so doing miss out on the rich experiences modern browsers afford visitors. It’s always a question of balance.
- Colour considerations
What colour palette to use? There are branding, psychological, cultural and accessibility considerations to contemplate. Your company may have it’s own branding guidelines for typography and colour usage, but are these really appropriate for the redesign? Do they need revisiting in light of the purpose of the need to redesign? For instance will your colour choices work as expected for an international audience?
A website redesign presents an organisation with fantastic opportunities to build upon its previous success yet, as this list shows, it is not a straightforward process. It requires strategic thought and teamwork to achieve the desired results. This list comprises of many of the questions we had to present to ourselves in this redesign, and may offer help to you and your organisation when you decide to undertake these tasks.