Website Redesign Projects
There are many great reasons to redesign a business website. By some estimates, visitors to a website form an opinion of that website in the first 3 to 7 seconds upon landing on that website. This is why website appearance and page load time are very important to website visitors who will often leave a site before it’s even loaded if it takes multiple seconds for the page to load.
Increasing the stakes further, large search engines like Google use page load time as a ranking factor and will penalize web pages that have long load times. Long page load times can be the result of several factors including performance issues with the web host, the content management system or something as simple as images that are not optimized.
Website Redesign Project Checklist
Website redesign projects are like any projects in that they require careful planning and execution to provide the desired outcome. eBiz ROI is providing this Website Redesign Checklist to benefit your website redesign project and its ROI.
1.) Create a backup of your existing website. In the event that there is a need to go back to the existing website, having a backup to restore a can be invaluable. Like homeowners insurance, a backup of your website is protection that you hope you never have to use, but in the event you need it, you will be sure glad you have it.
2.) Map Existing Web pages to new Web pages. Be sure to pay attention to file and directory structure. This is important since pages indexed in the search engines and the links they return in the search results rely on the directory structure. If the directory structure is different for any reason, then using a 301 redirect can be an effective way to ensure that links to the old web page get automatically redirected to the new web page, while preserving traffic from the search engines as a result of the authority and page of the old page.
3.) Identify your Unique Selling Points. Website redesign projects are a great time to re-evaluate corporate identity, branding and key messaging. A website is the cornerstone of online identity for all Internet marketing endeavours. It is critical that your unique selling points are obvious on your website and self-evident to visitors who will, on average, form an impression on your website and online brand, in a matter of just a few seconds. First impressions matter. All website content should reinforce the unique selling points, making it obvious to visitors why they will benefit from doing business with you.
4.) Baseline Current Website Performance. If you don’t currently have website marketing analytics installed, then a website redesign project presents the perfect opportunity to begin collecting this data. Data of interest to Interest marketers includes:
- Number of visits, visitors and unique visitors to a website or web page
- Bounce rate (visitors who leave a website without visiting any pages beyond the one they entered the site on)
- Average time on site – this is a key engagement metric, the longer the better
- Current rankings in the search results on Google, Bing for important keywords
- Domain authority (can use tools like SEOmoz Open Site Explorer)
- Number of new leads/form submissions per month
- Total amount of sales generated per month
5.) Determine Goals for Redesigned Website. Evaluate goals relative to each of the baseline website performance metrics in step 4 (e.g., “to increase site visits by 50% in the next six months”). Set specific target improvements for each of these metrics and plan on tracking progress over time. Without goals for the redesigned website, it will be impossible to define and evaluate project success and ROI.
6.) Take an Inventory of all existing web content. This includes images, documents, pdfs, web pages, videos, audio files and more. While a conscious decision may be made to retired old web pages or other resources that may contain outdated or irrelevant information, it is important to consider that those same resources may be driving traffic to your website, adding authority to your domain through links to that resource from other websites. These resources can also influence rankings in the search results for relevant keywords and phrases. Other key factors include which content is shared most, which web pages are receiving the most traffic, which keywords or phrases are driving the most visitors and which pages are ranking for those keywords and the number of links to each page. Links from other websites pass authority and page rank to the pages they link to which can have tremendous value in getting more visitors from your website from search engines such as Google and Bing
7.) Become a PI to Perform CI. OK Sherlock Holmes, it’s time to put on your private investigators cap on and perform some competitive intelligence. There are a number of tools to analyze online competition. One way is to run searches on Google and Bing for words and phrases that you anticipate your clients and prospects would likely use to if they were searching for the products and services that your company offers. As a HubSpot VAR, we find the Marketing Grader tool to be extremely useful when sizing up the competition. Run your website through Marketing Grader (http://marketing.grader.com) to get a report card of how your website and marketing is performing today. Then run each of your primary competitors through the Marketing Grader to assess their Internet marketing strengths and weaknesses. Review the competitor’s websites for ideas and innovations that they are using that you could also use. This is not to say copy their content which is a poor online marketing tactic with negative impacts, but look for ideas that you can apply for your website. There are some great tools that enable users to benchmark against their competition in areas such as traffic rank, indexed pages, number and quality of linking domains, Facebook fans, twitter followers and more.
8.) Design Your Website Around Personas. Designing your site around personas can have positive SEO and user experience impacts. For instance, one might consider defining different users/personas that may be relevant for your website:
- First-time vs. Loyal Customer
Defining personas for your website will help you when designing your layout, look and feel and navigation while focusing your content development and messaging by persona, you will greatly enhance user experience, increasing time on site while reducing bounce rate. Websites designed for personas experience higher conversion rates and ROI (Return on Investment) due to enhanced relevancy.
9.) Optimize your Website for Search. Getting found online in the natural search results is a great way to drive interested, relevant visitors (prospects) to your website. There are a number of tools and techniques for how to optimize your website for search. See the Start-up SEO Strategy or The Beginners Guide to SEO from SEOmoz read more than 1 million times. The foundation of this step is determining what are they best words or phrases that you want your website to rank for or put another way, the words and phrases that your prospects will enter into their search engine of choice to find the products and services offered by yours and your competitors business.
10.) Social Media Integration and Email Opt-In. When launching your website, you will want to include social media buttons on your website to enable visitors to share your business information with their friends and followers on social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other social networks that your business may have a presence on. Social media is a great way to stay connect with visitors to your website after they have left and in the places that you are most likely to find them online.
Email Opt-in forms are even better since they give you a direct communication channel to the website visitor, and if collected appropriately, a mechanism to email market to nurture visitors to prospects and ultimately customers. See How to Collect Email Addresses Like an Internet Marketing Pro
A successful website redesign project starts even before the site is being “designed.” Like any project, a website redesign requires careful planning and execution to achieve the desired outcome and avoid project failure. It is easy to focus solely on how the website looks while overlooking the need to establish a performance baseline and goals to define project success and measure ROI.
A website is the cornerstone of every Internet marketing strategy and should be viewed in this light when planning a website redesign project. The website is not a silo. Its integration with other functions, such as social media, email marketing and lead generation, is critical. This is your chance to turn your website into a loyal employee, who works 24 hours a day, 365 days a week tireless proclaiming your unique selling point, while providing an Internet beacon to those searching online for the value your business offers. Follow this checklist and you’ll be well-prepared for any website redesign project that your business will invest in instead thinking that WWW stands for What Went Wrong.