The web is filled to the brim with case studies boasting the incredible results marketing agencies have driven for their clients with a website redesign/revamp project.
From some generating a flood of additional traffic to others achieving record conversion numbers, these case studies almost position a website redesign as a surefire way to improve business results.
However, the reality of a website redesign is quite different.
While it is true that a poor designed and structured website hurts conversions, the process of a website redesign is a long and sometimes risky one.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with a website design even when it is seemingly well executed. For instance, your website could lose a significant portion of its current search traffic. Then there’s also the chance that your users may not agree with you about your ‘new’ website being better than the old one.
Thankfully, the web has empowered us with the tools and processes we need to make informed decisions about a website redesign. As a result, producing positive results from a website design becomes much more likely.
Before we get into the process of how we can eliminate and mitigate the risks and execute a profitable website redesign, let’s begin by looking at the most important question in the process- do you even need a website redesign?
Let’s find out.
When You Should Consider A Website Revamp
A website redesign is the process of revamping your website, including front-end elements like content, layouts, navigations, and more and back-end elements that may influence the functionality of the website.
The objective behind a website redesign is usually an improvement in conversions or website performance. However, sometimes websites are redesigned as part of a merger or a brand revamp as well.
Whatever your reason for considering a website redesign may be, in order to ensure the undertaking is positively impactful, it is critical to take data-backed decisions.
The first such decision is to decide if you really need a website redesign.
A website redesign is almost inevitable in the following cases:
- If you are launching a new product or service vertical
- If you are rebranding your business
- If you have recently acquired a new website that you want to brand like your other web
- If you don’t have a responsive website
However, if none of the above is the case, ask yourself the following questions:
- Has it been a long time since you built/last redesigned your website?
- Have you noticed a trend of diminishing traffic and conversion rates despite following best practices and implementing strategies that have worked well in the past?
- Have you ever seen/heard a user complain about the user experience on your website?
If your answer is a yes to any of those questions, a website redesign may be the way forward.
If you are still reading this, you probably want to redesign your website.
Without wasting any more time, let’s begin.
What You Need To Do Before A Redesign
As mentioned earlier, a website redesign is a long and risky process. Besides the risk of losing SEO progress and traffic, you also risk wasting your time and resources on a website design that may not make the expected/desired impact.
The worrying this is that this risk and its mitigation is omitted out of many website redesign processes. In such cases, the redesign agency or in-house resources responsible for the redesign jump into the overhaul of the current website without any risk mitigation in mind.
While the term ‘website redesign’ may suggest a dramatic overhaul of your entire website, it is certainly not the norm. In fact, a complete overhaul is rarely needed for improving the performance of most websites.
The best step you will take to mitigate your risk associated with a website overhaul is to not look at it as an overhaul at all.
Instead, consider this process as a series of informed and data-backed changes to the various elements of your website. Each of these changes will be tested against the existing version of your website in order to verify if they are truly making a positive impact and getting you closer to your goals of the website redesign.
Don’t worry, this approach does not mean you have to limit the number of changes you can make on your website. It just prevents you from feeling compelled to make changes to areas of your website that may be performing well.
With enough changes, you can still achieve the change in the ‘look and feel’ of your website that perhaps prompted you to even consider a website revamp in the first place.
Besides employing a risk mitigation strategy, the following are a few other things that you may consider doing before jumping into the actual redesign project:
– Backup your current website: This step will act as insurance in case you are unsuccessful in transferring your backend SEO to your new website.
– Backup any and all current content assets: Even the content assets that you may be thinking of redesigning should be backed up. The good ones have immense value to your marketing mix and the bad ones can be used as a guide to what should not be done with redesigned content assets.
– Create action/activity trackers: The previous steps ensured that the risk involved with a website redesign is managed. This step is to ensure the long process of a website redesign that involves planning, editing and creating content, testing versions, is completed within the decided timeline.
Ideally, you should have a minimum of two trackers. One should be used to track the progress of sitewide changes such as implementing 301 redirects, image optimization, the on-page SEO optimization of new web pages etc.
The other tracker should be dedicated to specific tasks that will be performed on specific pages. These may include rewriting headlines/body copy, changing CTA button positions/copies, updating page layout etc.
Creating action trackers will help you ensure no tasks are overlooked, you are making the best use of the resources made available for this project, and that your project progresses without breaching the budget or the deadlines.
With your website and content assets backed up and your activity trackers in place, it is now time to jump into the actual website redesign.
Step 1: Revisiting Buyer Personas
Just like your website must evolve to keep up with changing times, your target audience must evolve too. Over time, your buyer’s preferences, pain points, and factors that influence their decisions may have evolved.
That’s why, when you are considering a website redesign, it is a good idea to revisit your buyer personas and see if anything has changed.
This way, you can plan your website redesign and its goals in a way that ensures that your new website continues to seamlessly solve for the visitor. It will help you ensure your new web copy is aligned with your updated buyer personas.
In other words, reviewing your buyer personas before a website redesign will help you ensure the website redesign actually helps in improving user experience and contribute positively to your brands’ online identity.
Step 2: Understanding Current Website Metrics
Next step is to analyse and understand current website metrics. Remember we discussed earlier that taking data-backed steps will help us mitigate and minimise the risk related to existing users not liking the revamped website? This is where we are collecting that data.
For each of your website pages, collect the following data in a spreadsheet:
- – Number of monthly visitors
- – Bounce rate
- – Time on site
- – DA/PA
- – Inbound links
- – Leads generated
- – Conversion rate
- – Heatmap and clicktracking report
- – SEO performance (keywords ranking for, rank in SERPs for each target keyword)
These are the metrics that you must track but this list is not exhaustive by any measure. If the definition of success with certain pages requires you to track other metrics, feel free to add them to the list.
Besides creating this list, use this step to also analyze your best and worst performing pieces of content. Try to figure out what is working for your successful content pieces and how you can replicate the methods and elements on your new website.
Similarly, analyse your worst performing content pieces to determine what you must absolutely avoid when you design content for your revamped website.
Step 3: Conduct Competitor Analysis
In the digital world, no ‘informed’ decisions are taken without checking up on what the competition is doing. Thanks to the tools available to us today, like RankWatch, we can analyse everything about a competitor’s website.
In fact, there is so much information that one can analyse that the process of website analysis usually varies depending on the objective of the analysis.
In this case, our object is to inform our website redesign decisions. Keeping that in mind, here are three tips to conduct a competitor analysis that provides you with actionable insight that you can utilise for your website redesign project:
– Analyse Competitor Websites On Metrics Discussed In Previous Step
You can utilise an SEO tool like RankWatch for this purpose. The objective here is to record all the metrics that inform us about which pages of the competitor’s website are performing well and why they are performing well.
The objective is to draw inspirations that will allow you to create more targeted content and layouts that will help you convert better.
Please note that you may or may not always be able to pinpoint the number of sales/conversion rates of specific competitor pages and that’s perfectly fine. The objective here is to find out as much as you can about the competitors.
Using an SEO tool will also enable you to pinpoint the opportunities (keywords, content assets) that you and your competitors may have missed in the past. When used right, such opportunities will enable you to secure some easy wins with your ‘new’ website.
– Take Usability Inspiration
Look at some of your newer competitors that have created or updated their websites fairly recently. Look at how usability and user experience trends are being introduced in your industry and how the audience is responding to them.
To find information about the former, you will have to conduct manual research of your competitor’s websites. The information about the latter will be available in the website performance data of your competitors that you just collected (in the previous section of this step).
If you notice a new trend that is working well for one or more of your competitors, replicating the experience on your website might be a safe bet.
However, if you can think of a way to further add value with the same feature or website element, don’t hesitate to test your ideas.
How you can test said ideas, we will discuss in the upcoming steps. For now, just remember that there are no bad ideas and ensure everyone involved with the project knows the same.
Step 4: Set Goals
The first three steps of this process were dedicated to collecting data that would inform the decisions we take in this step and the ones that follow.
Now, it is time to really determine why you are conducting this website redesign. Getting inspired by the awesome results of a competitor’s redesign, or simply realising that your current design is outdated is not enough to truly guide an impactful redesign process.
Ask yourself, what do you want to really achieve with this website redesign project? Do you want to attract more traffic? Do you want to collect more emails with your content? Do you want to promote more expensive products?
In this step, your objective is to determine the exact metrics that you want to improve with a website redesign.
Based on this, you can go on to hypothesize the exact changes you must make to your website in order to improve the metrics you desire to improve.
Ideally, for every change you want to make, your statement of purpose should look something like:
“We should make change x to the element y because that may improve z”
As much as possible, make sure ‘z’ is something that improves the user experience to in turn, improve the chances of a conversion.
So, an example of a statement of purpose could be:
“We should rewrite the content on the product page with more emphasis on customer pain points and their solutions instead of focusing on features. This way, the visitors may be able to better understand our product’s application in improving their lives/solving their pain.”
Writing such statements might seem like a pain, especially when you are considering making several changes on a website that has several pages. Still, doing so will ensure every website redesign action that consumes your time and resources is purposeful. In fact, this is so beneficial that I recommend including these statements in the activity trackers that we discussed at the beginning of this process.
With that said, having purposeful statements guide you is not a surefire way to achieve success with your website redesign project.
Before we get into how success can be determined, we must first implement the website revamp changes. Which brings us to the next step in our process.
Step 5: Create An Action Plan And Implement
Now you know what you want to achieve with a website redesign and you also know what you need to do to get the desired results.
The time for planning is over and now, we implement.
Implementation of website design and content changes can take a lot of time. This is especially true if you have planned to rewrite, redesign, or recreate a lot of content. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that content production is the biggest bottleneck in any website redesign project.
Don’t worry, our process has accounted for this challenge earlier. While there is no way around producing high quality content, there is a way to make sure you are always on track, and that way is to use an activity tracker.
In fact, the activity tracker we created before starting this process will ensure all tasks involved in the implementation are executed on time. This way, even those tasks that may take more time than others, like SEO tasks, can be done on time without any chances of a miscommunication or a missed deadline.
With that said, it is important to assign specific tasks to specific resources with specific deadlines in order to ensure the project progresses as it should. It is also equally important to be realistic with deadlines to ensure quality of the output is not compromised.
After all, you are trying to improve what you already have (your website), and a compromise in quality beats the entire purpose of a website redesign.
Step 6: Test
After each task is implemented, you may be feeling a sense of gratification, and rightfully so. A website successful website revamp is surely a superb achievement.
However, you still don’t know if the website revamp is truly successful.
The only surefire way to determine success is to test the changes you have made against your original website.
Sure, all changes that you have made need not be tested. For instance, the content change we discussed as an example in the previous step does not merit A/B/n testing.
However, changes in areas like layout design, CTA buttons, and other such subjective areas must be tested to determine if they are truly making a positive impact to your website’s performance.
As you make changes and test them, you will be able to record your website’s reach closer to your goals in real time. If, in case, certain changes fail the A/B test, you can either go back to the ‘old’ design or think of a new iteration that may produce the desired results.
Continuous and consistent testing is not a website redesign task. Sure, it is involved in the process but it should be viewed more like a website maintenance task that you must carry out frequently in order to consistently improve the performance of your website (on different metrics).
Having said that, following best practices is one of the best ways to ensure that most of your A/B tests are successful.
Let’s look at some of the best practices you must follow to ensure the success of your website redesign project:
Website Redesign Best Practices
The following best practices are all aimed at improving the user experience on your website.
Employ A Mobile-First Approach
Ideally, you should have a website that performs seamlessly across devices of different sizes. With that said, since the number of mobile device users on the web has surpassed the number of desktop users, it is wise to think about your website with a mobile-first approach.
Technologies like responsive website design and accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are easy to implement to any website and give great returns by improving the experience of users on your website.
Highlight Key Areas With Contrasting Colours
Look at the screenshot above and think about what attracts your attention first and the most. My guess is that a significant chunk of the readers will find themselves looking at the “Try For Free” button.
Besides having a great offer at the front and center of their homepage, the RankWatch team has ensured that the most important CTA button on the page pops out.
Using contrasting colours for this purpose is known to work well.
Keep Website Design Consistent With Brand Theme
Your website is the online headquarter of your brand. In the online world, your website is the most important representation of your business and for this reason, it should be able to reflect the brand identity you have crafted (or want to craft) for your business.
To do this effectively, having a brand manual is strongly recommended. Such a manual will highlight the tone of voice, the language used in communications, and the colours used to represent your brand. Using this guide/manual, you can ensure consistency in each aspect of your website design and your marketing communication.
This will not only help your business appear more professional in the online landscape, it will also enable you to further reinforce the brand identity that you want to build for your business.
Make Use Of Visuals Whenever Possible
Pairing coloured visuals with written content increases people’s desire to read the content by a whopping 80%.
Most websites are a combination of visuals and text-based content. While many businesses put great focus on producing engaging and value focused written content for their audience, many make the mistake of pairing their amazing content with lousy stock images.
Don’t get me wrong, if you are working with a limited budget and can’t invest in custom photographs, using stock images still makes sense. However, if and when you plan a website redesign, it is a good idea to try to replace at least some of the images on your website with purpose driven customised photography and graphics.
Optimize For SEO
This one is a no-brainer. Optimizing each and every page on your website to be easily indexed and categorized by search engine crawlers is an absolute necessity from a marketing standpoint.
This becomes even more important during a website redesign where you risk losing the SEO progress of your ‘old’ website.
To take your optimization results to the next level, also consider optimizing your website for voice search. With the rise in the popularity of digital assistants, many experts believe voice search will be the ‘next big thing’ in the realm of SEO.
Develop Dedicated Landing Pages For Important Offers
Your most important offers deserve a special spotlight and the best way to provide them with this spotlight to dedicate landing pages to said offers.
Dedicated landing pages will enable you to track how different audiences are interacting with the offers. Moreover, you can test specific aspects of your landing pages to ensure you are continuously improving your conversion rates.
Not to forget, conducting A/B tests on landing pages will arm you with the knowledge you need to optimize the other pages of your website to improve conversions.
A website redesign has incredible potential to improve sales and conversions but only when it is planned and implemented correctly.
The correct way to do it? Stop thinking about conversions and start thinking about visitors/users. The more you are able to delight your website visitors, the better your conversion numbers will get.