Factors to Consider When Approaching A Website Redesign

When a website is created, it most likely meets all the needs and expectations set forth – and the thought of coming back to it again is non-existent. The reality is that every business grows and needs to update their web design to keep up with technological, user and business needs and expectations.

There are countless factors as to why a company, even if it is thriving, should embark on a redesign of their website with front-running reasons including usability, SEO, conversions and mobile accessibility. These revenue driving reasonings usually direct a company to redesign, however, there are many hidden factors both during, and after, a redesign that a company must consider and build strategic plans for.

Content Strategy

From the very start of a site redesign, content should be driving design. In order to build a new site that is truly reflective of the product or service it represents, the content strategy should be rock solid, created by someone who truly knows the brand. Each page from the existing website must be evaluated and optimized. Old content must be curated and new content created. If required, the new voice or vision must be crafted to resonate with the target user. This aspect of a site redesign is perhaps the most crucial, and is a huge time committment. Determine whether the job can be done by an internal stakeholder working with the designer, or if the work is better suited for a content strategist that can work directly with the designer throughout the process, ensuring the brand is represented accurately.

Expectations

Once the project has been approved and the process begins, it’s important to ensure that the vision is clear from the get-go. If not delivered from the creative team, request or sketch out a creative brief with company information, rough project goals, key stakeholders, competitive analysis and any desired aesthetics. At the very least, in an initial kick off meeting, express ideas with a guideline to ensure all involved are unified in the vision to be portrayed. Benchmarking and setting a timeline is key in managing expectations and allowing for the expected revisions, tweaks and delays that almost always come up in the creative process.

Conversions

As with anything new, there is a learning curve. In addition to pre-launch testing, pay close attention to the analytics once the new site is launched. Users who have become accustomed to a certain interface can be easily confused, resulting in dramatic drop rates. Even a site that is far more appealing with a keen focus on usability can experience lower conversions when newly launched. Users are creatures of habit so making incremental changes may be a better approach than a drastic change. In this case, taking data into consideration when redesigning is key. In addition, ensure that all URL redirects are made to retain SEO rankings.

Maintenance

Months of resources (both time and money) can go into a site redesign, delivering the desired end result. The launch will wow exiting and potential users, internal team members and the market at large. Then the day comes when an update needs to be made. One upload or modification to the newly redesigned site that is not implemented properly can make the whole interface look unappealing. Determining an update as well as content management process before the site launches will cut down on these types of mishaps. If not performed by the design team or creative agency, a la carte services to train internal team members can be performed to delegate the ongoing and future update requirements.

Launch Plan

In order to fully reap the benefits of a newly optimized website, a plan of action to support the launch must be put into place. SEO efforts will only go so far to inform the market and potential users of the new site. Build out branded content for both internal and external blogs, press release broadcasts, social media and email marketing. Planning the launch for a time when kinks can be worked out (i.e. not right at the busiest time of year or before a big event) will allow for tweaks, testing and updates to be made properly and in preparation for relevant seasons or promotions.

It’s no secret that one of the the keys to good business is adaptation. Brands that recognize the importance of creative development and user preference will reap the benefits on many levels in the market. Setting a clear strategy for a redesign and understanding the pitfalls that may occur will result in a successful launch of a newly designed website.

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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