It’s not uncommon for brands to go through a website redesign every two to four years. Whatever the reason for starting a digital makeover, there is a process that should be followed—especially when considering a completely new design and development platform. Here are five considerations, from our experience, that we recommend you take to heart:
First off, you need to have at least one main goal for the website. It’s easy to put the cart before the horse when you have big plans for how the website should look. However, remember that redesigns are not about you; they are about your user. We recommend starting with research to determine current challenges in the way people use your site. Methods such as journey mapping, User Experience (UX) teardowns, user testing and more can help answer important questions: Can your users purchase tickets on their phones? Is it easy to sign up for your newsletter? Is important content buried in the site? We can find answers to these crucial questions by looking at the site's users, and we can tailor-make a website that meets and exceeds their expectations.
Also, if you don’t already have Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in place, now is a great time to start. Setting up these measurable indicators (e.g., number of checkouts, etc.) is one of the best ways to measure if your goals are being met.
In order to develop a strong content strategy, start with an audit. Determine what pages, copy, images and other elements should stay and which ones should go. From there, create an Information Architecture (IA), or sitemap, that aligns with your new goals. Equally important is user flow, helping organize your site in a way that moves users down the funnel. If your main goal is sales, information should be organized in a way that highlights your eCommerce through product displays and convenient shopping cart access. Content strategy includes everything from creating audience personas, page nomenclature, hierarchy of content, consistency of tone and voice, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and much more. The focus, overall, should be on prioritization of content.
Assuming everything is informed and organized, the excitement of design can begin. Still, design is based on solving problems. That said, 75% of users admit that they base website credibility on aesthetics, which is a user's first impression. Having a trained designer who will look at the research and create valuable solutions based on that information is the key to creating a new website that converts. Work with a designer and discuss their proposed design recommendations and process. With more and more users experiencing your brand on their phones, we design all of our sites to mobile first and progressively enhance up to desktop. This ensures a seamless look across all devices—and design fundamentally involves the look and feel of the user interface. In short, craft a design system that brings your brand's unique story to life in a way that is engaging and informative to your users.
Hopefully you’ve decided on a platform to build your site on before now, based on conversations with your team and whomever is developing your site. It’s vital to get a flexible Content Management System (CMS), meaning developers can easily add and change code and content can be edited by your team on the backend. Something to remember here is third party tools and how they appeal to the brand and new website look, if they’re not already integrated with the chosen platform. Let’s use the shopping cart feature as an example. If you don’t use Magento, Shopify or another eCommerce solution for your site, you will need to link to one externally. Ensuring that you use something that has design customizations enabled will help maintain an all-encompassing brand experience—this goes for external blogs, booking channels, login portals and other tools with which you may integrate. If you use something that’s not seamless, it distracts from the design decisions your team has made and, ultimately, reflects poorly on your brand. Lastly, we live in the age of iPhones and Androids, so find a CMS solution that handles responsive design seamlessly but in a way that is ADA compliant—being inclusive shouldn’t be optional.
Measurement & Media Promotion
Now it’s time for the finale! Or, in reality, the beginning. Launching a website is never the end, especially in terms of measurement, promotion and iteration. Media, whether organic, shared or paid, should be on your radar when your site launches to drive traffic. A paid media campaign—from display to social—will not only garner awareness for your brand and its website, but it can also bring in untold impressions and, with time, conversions. You’ll need a media expert to walk you through tracking codes, landing page usage and other data measurement capabilities. Whatever you do, don’t let your website sit alone.
Your site needs routine check-ups and measurement reports post-launch to make sure that it is continuing to reach users in the most effective ways. Consider Heat Mapping to see if users are clicking on important buttons and forms linked to your newly formed KPIs. You can always use A/B testing on your headlines and images to aid in conversion optimization. There are various measurement tools, so don’t be afraid to get in the trenches and improve the site as you go!
Launching a website is a huge undertaking that requires the use of experienced marketing creatives. Your website’s success depends on a dedicated team, organization and time. With the proper timeline and workflow, you can bring beauty to your brand and users. Use these considerations as a framework, but if you get caught up in the minutia, we’re always here to help. Happy website-making!