Every few years, most businesses and organizations see a need for some form of website redesign. In the past 5 years, much of the momentum for updating websites was due to a need to convert those that weren’t mobile-friendly to a responsive design, making them mobile-friendly across all devices and dimensions.
If your website isn’t responsive to all mobile devices yet, read Melissa’s article in the NH Business Review to learn why this is so important: ‘Mobilegeddon’ and Your Site.
Before you jump straight into conversations with your team about the new features, content, and graphics you’d like to incorporate into your website, I’d urge you to take a step back and consider the questions below. We find that many organizations go right into the planning phase of their website redesign without properly considering all of the implications and opportunities that exist.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself, your team, and your web development firm:
What are your goals?
I can’t tell you how many businesses and organizations I speak to that don’t have clear goals for their website, or their marketing in general.
Many have never considered their website as a marketing vehicle, capable of producing real and trackable results, and so they’ve never measured it’s performance or even put much thought into what it could be doing for them.
They’ve thought of their website as more of a marketing brochure, a piece of content that has no real purpose aside from providing information to people who are looking for it.
Your website can do so much for you, if you just tell it what to do.
For example, if your sales goal is to generate 10% more revenue from existing clients, and 15% from new clients this year, then you can look to your website for opportunities to drive these goals.
For the existing client goal, you can install tracking codes on your site that monitor what pages people are spending their time on, and what content they’re actively downloading or sharing.
You can then segment these people into targeted email lists, and deliver information to them that is related to what they’re already interested in. If they continue to show interest at that point, it would be a great time for a more direct sales call to convert them.
For the new clients goal, you could write content on your website related to your best-performing products or services, and how they helped your existing customers. From there, you could use social media, email, and/or online advertising to get these messages out to new prospective customers, and draw them into a conversation with you.
Who is the new website really for?
Have you developed written buyer personas for your different types of customers?
This is an important step toward developing content and graphics that speak directly to your prospective customers, using the language that would be most likely to get their attention.
A great example of this would be a law firm that previously had a lot of legal jargon throughout their website, which most of their clients would either not understand or not want to read. By developing buyer personas for their ideal clients, such as ‘Assisted-living Mary who needs an estate plan and a trusted advisor’, ‘Business-owner Steve who needs HR advice and client contracts’, and ‘New parents Joe and Amanda who want to protect their child for the future’. Each of these prospective clients would not only be looking for different services, they’d be attracted to different types of messaging and different images. What might draw Mary’s attention could be a turn-off to Joe and Amanda, and vice versa.
Be sure to consider all of your prospective buyers before planning out the look and feel of your new site, and remember that there may be many different types of buyers for the same products and services.
What are your future plans for growth?
You’ll want to be sure that you’re building a website with future growth potential.
Is it built on a flexible content management system, allowing you to add on pages, blogs, and new elements for years to come?
Are there wish-list items that you’re not ready to develop yet, but want to have the ability to integrate in the future?
Do you have the ability to change the layout of pages if your needs change?
How are you performing in organic search, and where do you want to be 1-5 years from now?
If you’re performing well, you’ll want to be sure to transition your website in such a way as to avoid negatively impacting your current indexing.
If you’re not performing well, a website redesign is a great time to implement the search engine optimization best practices that will greatly improve your positioning. Much of this is determined by the structure of your website and your content strategy, so be sure to have this conversation with a trusted SEO provider before diving into the redesign.
How will you measure success?
Now that you’ve identified your goals for the new website, how will you measure your performance against those goals?
Be sure to install the tracking tools that allow you to measure how elements of your site are performing, and develop a strategy to lead visitors to the actions you want them to take, such as downloading content, subscribing to an email list, or registering for events.
Do you have the right team on your side?
Most importantly, are you confident that the web design team you’ve chosen to work with is best suited to your needs and goals?
Often, organizations choose their web development firms based on their location, or the salesperson that worked with them, or the fact that they’ve build a competitor’s website. But they neglect to ask the questions to determine how their own experience will be, such as ‘who will manage our project’, ‘what will we as the client need to provide to you’, ‘what will we maintain ownership of and be able to edit vs. what will we have to come back to your firm for’, and ‘how will you help us achieve success with our new website’.
These questions and many others often come up during the website redesign process, when it’s too late to change the contract terms.
Be sure you fully understand what you will receive, and what results you can expect to achieve, before going into the process of a redesign.
For a complete list of the 90 questions to ask when redesigning your website, check out this blog post.