We all know what an ugly website looks like.
Outdated font, Flash intros, unorganized text, even (shudder) site counters. Put it all together and you have the perfect storm of hideous web design.
If I just described your site (or if it simply hasn’t been updated in a while), you’re probably thinking it’s time for a website redesign.
But if you’re only looking to make your site prettier, you’re missing out on a world of opportunity.
Website Redesign: More Than Just Aesthetics
Lots of business owners want to make their site look better, and for good reason. People (i.e. your potential customers) are drawn to things that are beautiful: faces, art, and yes, even websites.
But website design is more than just aesthetics.
After all, just look at these uber-successful websites that haven’t changed design since 1994. Those outdated features aren’t hurting them any.
So, if they’re so successful, why redesign a website at all?
We’re so glad you asked.
A website’s design is just a small part of how it works. The real magic happens behind the scenes.
Here’s what you should really be focusing on with your website redesign and how it can help your business.
1. Competitor Analysis + Research
It’s ironic that, before you start work on your redesign, you have to begin by looking away from your website.
Every web redesigning project should start with a concentrated examination of the key players in your industry.
A.K.A. your competitors.
We’re not saying you should copy them; far from it. But unless you know what everyone else is doing, you’ll be needlessly reinventing the wheel.
Maybe it’s industry standard to include prices on your website. If you’re the only one not doing it, who do you think customers will call?
Or perhaps every single one of your competitors is using the same basic Wix template. This is your chance to create a site that looks completely different.
The way we look at it, there’s no such thing as too much data.
2. Optimized Content
By now, we all know that content is king.
After all, why do you even have a website (or a business, for that matter) if you don’t have anything to say?
Optimizing all of the content on your website—from your About page to your blog—ensures that search engines find it so that people can read it.
Luckily, Google’s algorithms have evolved to focus more on the quality of your content than on how many times you use your focus keyword.
How do they judge whether your content is quality?
Google shows greater preference toward content that is:
- Shared – if more people share (or link to) it, the better it must be.
- Trustworthy – if it comes from a source with a high domain authority, it’s seen as more reliable.
- Thorough – if it covers the entirety of your topic (“The Complete Guide to _____”) rather than 300 words on a more specific subtopic.
Your content should also put its thumb out so that the search engine crawlers know to pick them up.
This includes things like:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Internal and external links
- Related keywords
- Images with alt tags
Clarity Creative is located in Orlando, so we’re no stranger to theme parks. In fact, once you go enough times, you don’t even need a map to get to Space Mountain or that place that sells Dole Whips.
But Google is not an annual passholder to your particular theme park (i.e. your website).
They don’t even know it exists.
Unless you give them a map.
A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like: a map for your site. It gives step-by-step instructions on how to navigate a page and what topics you’ll find on it.
Without a sitemap, you’ll have to wait for those Google bots to randomly stumble upon your page and blindly feel their way through each of the rooms.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
4. Mobile-Friendly Design
In 2014, mobile web use finally surpassed desktop use for web browsing, and that gap is only growing wider.
That’s why it’s so surprising that—four years later—some businesses still haven’t made the switch to a responsive, mobile-friendly website.
Responsive websites automatically resize your site to fit screens of any size, no matter what device it’s being viewed on: laptop, desktop monitor, smart phone, or tablet.
I think we’ve all experienced the hassle of having to zoom on a smart phone and scroll the screen back and forth to read everything. (#thestruggleisreal)
By making it easy and convenient to browse your site, you’ll be sure to hook customers as soon as you’ve got them.
The last thing you want is them clicking away because your site doesn’t work on their iPhone screen.
5. Updated Server
If you were restoring an old house, you’d never pick out lighting and paint colors without working on the frame first, right?
You’d start by shoring up the foundation, strengthening the walls, and adding any rooms you’d need. Then you move on to decorating.
Your website is no different.
In this analogy, your server is the building that houses your website. In fact, you quite literally rent server space so your website has a place to live.
But what happens when your marketing campaign does really well and you’re flooded with customers overnight?
Sounds great, but an outdated server can’t handle all of that traffic. It’s like hosting Thanksgiving for your extended family in a one-bedroom apartment.
An updated server means that you can go viral without your website crashing.
Your server should also be fast enough to keep your visitors happy.
It’s 2018. People are used to the internet being lightning fast. When it comes to websites, it’s all about instant gratification.
When your customers don’t have to wait for your site to load, they’re happy. Google’s happy.
6. SSL Certificate
Have you ever visited a website that began with “https” rather than “http”? That “S” stands for “secure.”
Without getting too technical—and to continue our analogy from the last paragraph—an SSL certificate is like a heavy-duty deadbolt lock installed on your website’s “door.”
SSL certificates encrypt the data sent from your domain to the users’ screens, making it less likely to be hacked and providing peace of mind for your customers.
But how do you know whether you’ve gotten any returns?
One word: analytics.
Website analysis shows you who came to your site, where they live, what device they’re using to access it (even the operating system!), which sites they’re visiting, how fast they’re leaving, how many of them have never visited your site before….
This list goes on and on.
Google does a lot of things well, and their Analytics is no exception.
We run the Analytics report for every single website we create and provide that information to our clients on a monthly basis.
Having the data in black and white helps our clients see what’s working and what isn’t, so they know where to take their web presence in the future.
8. Simplified, Organized Design
We’re just now getting to the actual design of your website. (I told you it was more than aesthetics!)
Designing your website for improved artistic quality is one thing, but all that design is worthless if your website isn’t usable.
That’s where User Experience (UX) comes in.
As much as you want search engines to be impressed by your page, your customers are human, and humans get frustrated when things are difficult.
Think about Craigslist. It’s a hideous site, but it’s organized. Visitors can intuitively find what they need and get on with their lives.
That’s what’s kept it in business for so long (despite it looking like a tire fire).
Having your website redesigned can improve your UX by removing all the confusing visual clutter.
By showing people exactly where to click, how to order, and how to contact you, you’re removing any obstacles that might drive them to one of your competitors.
9. Social Sharing Buttons
Forty-two percent of millennials consider social media the most relevant channel for ads. Even for baby boomers, it’s the second spot (behind TV).
“Number of shares” was one of the features of high-quality content, remember?
Providing something worth sharing (awesome content) alongside an easy method for sharing it (social sharing buttons), makes visitors more likely to like, tweet, and pin your business.
Not to mention, having other people toot your horn for you does wonders for your credibility.
10. Marketing Plan
To paraphrase the poet John Donne, no website is an island.
If you want to meet your goals, increase leads, and make more money, redesigning your website isn’t enough.
You need a marketing plan. (And no, SEO doesn’t count as marketing.)
Pay-per-click campaigns, billboards, even radio…all of these methods are lures meant to draw people back to your website.
But there’s one advantage that digital marketing has above all others: it can target a specific demographic.
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are a great example of this.
You create an ad for your business that focuses on a selected keyword. Google will show your ad to people it determines are interested in you based on their search history. You elect to pay a certain amount (between .50-$1) every time someone clicks on your ad.
Can a billboard do that?
A redesigned website should think about more than just the website. If you consider where your site fits into the internet as a whole, you can maximize your results (and your profits).
We might be biased, but we truly believe that customized, strategic, targeted website revamps have the ability to improve your business (and we have the case studies to prove it).
When you get down to it, a website redesign is all about:
- getting in front of the right customers,
- drawing them in,
- getting them to stay, and
- turning them into fans who spread the word about you.
Don’t think of a website redesign as simply “making my site look different.” Think of it as a tool to help your business get to where it needs to be.
You tell us where you want to be and we’ll help you get there.
Bonus: If you liked this article make sure you check out How Often Should I Redesign My Website?
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. While it’s possible to age out of roller coasters (and Disney), you never age out of liking Dole Whips. It’s science.