Website design is an ever evolving area and there comes a time where the best thing is redesign to keep the site up to date with the requirements of your audience. Planning the updates is an incredibly exciting process, as you can utilise your own flair and creativity and use your knowledge. The secret here though is to not get too carried away.
A lot of designers will take advantage of this opportunity to focus completely on visual appeal, all the while ignoring functionality, SEO and content. It is true that having a stunning website is important, as it needs to be appealing in order to attract viewers and turn them into paying customers. Traffic, functionality and conversions though are what ultimately decide the site’s success or failure, so the best designers will take the time to consider them too.
In order to design a result-producing website, who your target is has to be defined. The SEO, design and functionality focus must all be dictated by informed research. This means researching keywords, markets, and community mapping. This shouldn’t be an afterthought for you, but rather your first port of call. If you possess this information from the start, it can be utilised in every aspect of the website redesign.
Benchmarking your current data will reveal what works currently and what has done well in the past. Evaluating the most popular pages is a must. Those that rank well can be preserved for your redesign and improved in the process. Doing this will fuel the site with techniques proven to be effective and permit you to gauge the site’s success after the launch.
Redesigns aren’t simply an opportunity to introduce a fresh look to your website; they also present a chance to reorganise the structure that exists already. To ensure your information architecture is set up to provide optimal conversions and visibility, your first order of business is to analyse your current site’s effectiveness.
Inventory every page, incoming link and pages that rank well from the start, and don’t forget about sub domains either. As the structure of the URL is changed, a redirect strategy is paramount for retaining SEO rankings and rerouting referral traffic to the new URLs and pages. You should also remove any pages no longer being used; the last thing you want is a lot of errors.
Analysing and auditing data where all the incoming links are going to and coming from is also a good idea. This can be accomplished by using such tools as Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer. Once you’ve collected an inventory of backward links, the next step will be to map them along with all pages to their new home by making use of 301 redirects. This period is also a great time to form your canonical strategy for “www”, index files and other examples of duplicate content.
Digital marketing is fast evolving into a completely integrated discipline. Website redesigns are considerable events for any marketing campaign; as such it should make sense that this process needs to be as integrated as it can be. If your site is going to deliver true value, everyone should be involved. This includes not only the designers, but your sales and SEO teams, copywriters and social media experts as well.