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How To Start The Website Redesign Process

By February 6, 2015March 31st, 2017Web Dev, Web Development

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” blog series.

When I was a corporate marketing manager, and I was asked to redesign our website, I would smile on the outside and say “yes sir” (or ma’am), but groan inwardly. Why the groan? Because a website redesign takes a lot of time and money, and there isn’t always a lot of clarity about what success looks like. Usually a customer, partner, or internal executive had made a remark in a meeting that “the website sucks,” and the VP of Marketing, publically shamed, decides that this perception is widespread, and that something must be done! It’s time for a website redesign. Ugh.

The problem is that it is a lot easier to say something sucks than it is to define what would be better. What constitutes a good website redesign? Good design can be subjective and it can take multiple iterations to get a non-designer (like a CEO or VP of Marketing) to be happy with a new website. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “something isn’t quite right, but I can’t put my finger on it.” Great. How do I fix that? Many times website redesigns are undertaken without a clear idea of what success means, other than that, “the boss likes it.”

In my experience, the most common reason that someone has remarked that the “website sucks” is because a) they “googled” our type of product and we didn’t show up in the top ten search engine results; or b) in their opinion it is not up to the latest design trends. Well, a new website design by itself won’t change search engine results. And, though the design may be dated, what matters more than how your site looks is how it performs.

The last thing you want to do is undertake a website redesign project and end up back where you started: with no way to assess whether the new site is working any better than the previous site. The good news is that in today’s world of online marketing, it is not only possible to define what makes a website good, is it possible to prove it.

There are two website redesign best practices you can do at the start that will help ensure that the project is measurably successful.

1) Benchmark current performance.

If you don’t have Google Analytics or some other free traffic measurement tool in place, start there. Look at weekly, monthly and annual traffic figures if possible. If you have lead generation tools in place like landing pages, measure how many leads the site has brought in and how many of those leads have led to sales. In addition to page rankings, look at metrics like page views, length of visits, and traffic sources to understand as much as you can about how many people are coming to your site, where they are coming from and what they are doing. There are also tools you can use to compare your site metrics to competitors. Don’t do anything until you understand your current performance.

2) Set goals for future performance.

You can’t measure the success of a new website if you don’t have specific goals for what you want it to do. How much do you want traffic to increase? Do you want to be able to trace website visits to leads and sales? Pin down your sales team—what, specifically, would make them happy in terms of leads and new customers coming from the site? Use numbers: a goal might be to grow traffic by 25 percent per month; or to get 100 qualified leads per month; or to attribute $50,000 in sales per month to the website.

With specific, measurable goals you can build a site that will reach those goals, and then you’ll have irrefutable proof that your website redesign was successful. As a bonus, you’ll be able to calculate the ROI on the cost of implementing a new site. ROI from marketing initiatives can be difficult to come by—this can give you leverage when you want to expand your web marketing with campaigns that will drive traffic to the site and increase lead generation. But that’s the subject of the next blog!

To learn more about how to website redesign best practices ensure your next website is better than your previous one, download our white paper, “Website Design for Marketing Managers: How to build an awesome website that will grow your business and make you look good!”

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” blog series.