Dec 22, 2015
5 time-savings things to do before you redesign your website
Depending upon the size of your website and the changes that you need, a website redesign project can be time-consuming. But there are a few things that you can do ahead of time to ensure that your redesign project goes smoothly.
Sure you have to invest time upfront before you start, but preparing ahead of time means fewer delays and interruptions after the project begins.
If one of your goals for 2016 is to redesign your website, then you can help the project proceed more effortlessly if you take these five steps before you kick it off.
Step 1: Set your web goals
You probably have good reasons for wanting to redesign your website this year. Maybe your business has changed and your website needs to reflect those changes. Maybe you’ve outgrown the template that you purchased a couple of years ago or maybe your website isn’t mobile friendly.
Whatever the reasons for redesigning your website, you want to set some goals to achieve with your redesigned website. Ideally, your website goals align with your overall business goals.
If, for example, you want to grow your business this year, then consider how that objective translates to your website. Perhaps you want to increase website conversions, newsletter sign-ups, or web leads by 10% year-over-year. That’s an easily measurable goal if you have previous year metrics to compare.
It may help you to review your current website and to make a two column list. In one column, list what’s working on your site today. For example, the site may be easy for you to update, which is something that you don’t want to change in a website redesign.
In the second column, list what isn’t working. For example, you may have an important landing page on your site receiving low traffic. This could indicate that your navigation needs to be improved.
Keep your goals and your working / not working list handy when you meet with a web designer.
When developing your goals, limit yourself to a manageable number as well as a manageable timeframe. I recommend 2 to 4 goals that you can measure over the course of one year. You won’t feel overwhelmed having fewer goals in a shorter time span.
Step 2: Determine your website requirements
I met with someone recently to discuss his website. He wasn’t certain what he wanted his site to do for him, so I asked him a simple question:
If your website was an employee, what would you like it to do for you?
If you think of your website as an employee, then there are likely tasks that you want to delegate to that employee. Here are a few ideas:
- Schedule appointments. Rather than clients calling you to schedule appointments, your website could enable clients to set their own appointments via an online calendar.
- Take online orders. If your business caters to wholesale clients, then your website could provide a custom form for those clients to refill orders or to schedule regularly recurring orders.
- Market your products or services. Online marketing has been around for a while, but are you making use of it on your website? You could use your website to promote an offer, such as a free ebook, or to provide a simple sign-up form for your newsletter.
- Encourage more sales. If you operate an online store, your website could pop-up a discount coupon or offer for free shipping to entice visitors to buy more.
Make a list of the tasks you want your website to do for you. Your web designer or developer can work with you to incorporate the necessary functionality into your site.
Step 3: Review your content
Before starting on your website redesign project, take stock of your existing web content—text, images, video, audio, and so on—to decide:
- What content to keep
- What content to delete
- What content to create
The most thorough approach you can take is to read through each web page, including your blog posts and any downloadable offers, such as white papers. Then, categorize each piece of content in the three buckets mentioned.
Before you dismiss this task as too tedious and decide to migrate all your current content, consider the cost for migration of your current web content either in money or time.
If you hire a web designer or developer to migrate all web content, then the cost of your website redesign project can increase significantly depending upon the number of web pages. You can, of course, migrate the content yourself if you have the time to do so.
Add to that moving from one platform or content management system (CMS) to a different one—WordPress to Squarespace, for instance—and your costs whether money or time could be even more. In some cases, migration tools may be available to complete the task, but if no tools are available to automate the task, then someone has to migrate the content manually.
Another good reason to review your content before a website redesign is to ensure that your messaging is still accurate. Eliminate or replace any outdated content that no longer reflects your current business or offerings or that no longer speaks to your target audience and their needs.
Make a list of new web pages that you need to add and start drafting the content. Either you or your web designer or developer can build new web pages when the new content is finalized.
Step 4: Gather together your business assets
There are assets that your web designer or developer will need from you to get started, so locate them before you’re asked to provide them to speed up the process. In particular, you can expect your designer or developer to ask for your business logo and style guide, assuming you have one.
If your business logo is available in different sizes and formats, then make all files available to your designer or developer. Include the source file for your logo if you have it. Then your designer can resize or adjust the logo as needed for the website.
Other assets or information that your designer or developer may need access to:
- Any photos or illustrations on your current website (in case your designer needs to resize, crop, or edit your images)
- Video or audio files, if you host them locally on your site; or URLs, if you host them remotely, such as on YouTube
- Web metrics reports (if you gather web metrics on your current site, your designer or developer may want to view them to see how well your pages perform today and to uncover issues that need addressing in the redesign)
- Login credentials (usernames and passwords) for your current and new web host, if you change hosts, as well as other login credentials for related services, such as Google Analytics or MailChimp
Step 5: Compile a list of sites that you like
If you like surfing the web, then you’ll like this last step. To help your designer get started, compile a list of sites that you like. This may include a list of sites that you visit most often, your competitors’ websites, and / or websites related to your business or industry.
Next, describe why you like each site. It may be the fonts, colors, layout, features—anything that appeals to you on the site. Be as detailed as possible with your descriptions. Dive deeper than the home page and look at individual web pages.
As a designer, I use this list to find inspiration and to focus on what you—the client—likes. This list helps both of us to know that we’re on the same page. And it’s less likely that I will present a design that doesn’t meet your expectations.
Although this may seem like the easiest of the 5 steps, I’ve had more clients struggle with this task than any other. It’s one that requires you to look critically at a website, so set aside more time than you think you need to complete this step. Aim for 3 to 5 websites for your list.
It may seem like a lot of work to do to prep for a website redesign, but doing the work before you get started gives you a headstart. With all this information on hand when your designer or developer needs it, your project can move forward quickly with fewer delays. With fewer delays, your new site will be up and running when expected.