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Outdated font, Flash intros, unorganized text, even (shudder) site counters.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 and a bad user experience.
If I just described your site, it’s time for a website redesign! Poor web design is one of the first things that can turn away potential customers.
And if you recently went through a site redesign, there might be things you missed. (If you’re only looking to make your site prettier, you’re missing out on a world of opportunity.)
Why You Should Consider a Website Redesign
A site redesign is about more than how your site looks; it’s about how it functions.
In fact, most of what we do in a website redesign isn’t about aesthetics at all.
In the past, we likened your website to a robot employee that works for you 24/7, and that analogy still stands. When you hire employees, do you want them to look presentable, or do you want them to work?
Ideally both, right?
So here’s a 10-step plan for how to redesign a website, from getting the content on each page to helpful keywords and more, and how it actually helps your business.
1. Research Your Competition
It’s ironic that, before you start work on your site redesign, you have to begin by looking away from your website.
Every website redesign 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, but knowing what everyone else is doing saves you from reinventing the wheel.
If it’s industry standard to provide prices on your website, you want to give your customers that information up front, so they don’t go looking at your competitors for the complete picture.
When looking to redesign your site, you might find that many of your competitors use a similar template and this is your opportunity to stand out.
Research is the first step in any business plan, and website redesign is no different.
2. Redesign Your Content
By now, we all know that content is king. After all, why do you even have a website if you don’t have anything to say?
So when doing a site redesign, it’s important not to forget to redesign the content on your site as well.
Optimized content is written to reach the largest audience possible. This means using keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, and all those doodads that make the search engines sit up and take notice.
Just like fashion, technology trends change frequently, so your target keywords might be different when doing a site redesign than when you first started.
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.
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.
3. Create a Sitemap
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. But instead of telling humans where to find delicious ice cream treats, it gives search engines step-by-step instructions on how to navigate your 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. Create a Mobile-Friendly Design
Mobile web use finally surpassed desktop web in 2014, and that gap is only growing wider.
That’s why it’s so surprising that 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.
A great user experience is crucial in turning first-time visitors into return visitors and then into customers. 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. Update Your 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 (there’s a reason your URL is called your “address”).
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, and the key push behind your site redesign is…more traffic! Without an updated server, you can’t go viral without your website crashing.
Your server should also be fast enough to keep your visitors happy. 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. Everyone’s happy.
6. Improve Website Security
Have you ever visited a website that began with “https” rather than “http”? That “S” stands for “secure.”
Without getting too technical, an SSL certificate is like a heavy-duty deadbolt lock installed on your website, and users are more likely to trust your site and its content (not to mention enter any payment info) if they feel it’s secure.
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.
Another important factor to keeping your site secure, Google gives a higher preference to secure sites.
7. Don’t Just Assume It’s Working
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, and the list goes on and on.
Google does a lot of things well, and their Analytics is no exception.
At Clarity Creative, 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. Design With User Experience In Mind
Only now can we begin talking about the aesthetics of your website redesign.
Designing your website for improved artistic quality is one thing, but all that design is worthless if your website isn’t easy to use.
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.
A redesigned website can improve your UX by removing all the confusing visual clutter. Show people exactly where to click, how to order, and how to contact you, and you remove any obstacles that might drive them to one of your competitors.
9. Get the Word Out With Social Sharing Buttons
Forty-two percent of millennials consider social media the most relevant channel for ads. And for baby boomers, it’s the second spot (behind TV).
“Number of shares” was one of the features of high-quality content that helps your website rank better, 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. Have a Marketing Plan
To paraphrase the poet John Donne, no website is an island.
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 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.
At Clarity Creative, we offer full website redesign services—from the sitemap to the color scheme.
We might be biased, but we truly believe that customized, strategic, targeted website designs have the ability to improve your business (and we have the case studies to prove it). When you get down to it, a web redesign is all about:
- Getting in front of the right customers.
- Drawing them in.
- Getting them to stay.
- Turning them into fans who spread the word about you.
Don’t think of your site 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. So, you tell us where you want to be and we’ll help you get there.
It’ll be worth the investment; we promise.
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 & digital marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. If you’re suddenly overcome by Dole Whip cravings, here’s a link to a copycat recipe.