Website redesign. Those two simple words are enough to make even the most seasoned of marketers break out into a cold sweat. Research, planning, meetings, debates, design, user experience, content, development, approvals, and that’s just the process for deciding whether or not you should do a redesign. The sheer amount of work needed to pull off a website redesign is often all it takes to make companies reconsider the whole idea, but it doesn’t have to be.
With the right planning upfront, the entire website redesign process will go much smoother. Below are some key questions you should answer before you begin your redesign, and a few helpful tips on how to find them.
Define the purpose of your website redesign
“I just don’t like it” won't cut it. You need to identify measurable goals for your website. Where is the current site underperforming and preventing your organization from reaching its goals? How can you address those issues to remedy the situation?
Some issues can be solved by improving the design or user experience. Other issues may require a more technical solution, such as improving the accessibility for disabled users.
Once you’ve identified the problem, the solution won't be far away.
Use data to drive decisions and planning
Analytics data will tell you everything you need to know about how customers reach your site, and how they use it once they get there. Use this data to identify how and why your website isn’t performing well, which pages are getting the bulk of the traffic, and which ones are going unused.
This will allow you to restructure your site in order to make it easier for users to accomplish their goals, instead of forcing them through a sales funnel that only accomplishes your goals. This will also allow you to create a plan for your website’s content, giving the user more of what they clearly want and need.
Audit your existing content
It’s important to know what you have, where it is, and what to do with it. Maybe a particular page should be moved up in the site hierarchy? Maybe you’re missing content on a critical page? By performing an audit of your existing pages and content, you’ll be able to identify areas that need improvement.
Webpage Inventory Audit
The easiest way to do this is to create a spreadsheet of every page on your website, list out the details and contents of the page, its purpose, and the target audience. From there, you can decide where the page should live on your site.
- List the URL, Page Title, and Navigation Title
- Determine the purpose of the page
- Identify the target audience
On the same spreadsheet as the Webpage Inventory, list out the different types of content present on your site and how they contribute to your website’s goals.
- Banner ads
- Email newsletters
- Event calendars & registration pages
- Images, Audio, Video
- Social media sharing links [Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.]
- Staff directory etc.
The goal here is to get an understanding of how each piece of content contributes to the user experience and, ultimately, your business goals.
Are you spending several hours managing certain content each week, but getting nothing in return? It might be time to reevaluate that content’s place and purpose on the site.
Future Content Considerations
Consider how your site will grow and evolve over time. This will allow you to implement a process that can adapt to your needs, rather than trying to force in a new change after it’s too late.
- Will you need an archive for news/blogs?
- Will you need to add pages/sections?
- Who will be responsible for managing new/old content?
Create a sitemap
Your sitemap details the hierarchy and structure of the entire site. This document will have a simple look, but it’s crucial to the planning and design of your site.
Think of your sitemap like a family tree. It will detail the order and organization of your pages, and how they’re related to one another.
Wireframes are similar to a sitemap, in that they are a rough guide to show you how the website will look. However, wireframes are used to show a rough layout of how certain kinds of webpages will look. Don’t worry, you don’t need to create one for every single webpage, just one template for each type of page.
The wireframe should outline the different areas where content will live on those types of pages.
Establish a web style guide
The web style guide is a set of rules that governs how your site uses/displays things like:
- Navigation titles & heading tags
- Paragraphs, lists, and tables
- Links (active, hover, and visited states)
- Images & Videos
- Background images and watermarks
This shouldn’t be confused with your brand guidelines, which dictate how your brand assets are to be used/displayed. The web style guide pertains specifically to how your website is structured and how it presents content.
It’s a lot to consider, but in the long run, having a solid plan in place before you start the process of actually creating your new website will save you time, headaches, and money.