So you’re planning to give your website a bit of a refresh? A new lick of paint as they say.
Where do you start?
That question isn’t actually as easy to answer as you’d assume!
The Benefits Of An Update
There is absolutely no doubt that updating your website if it is tired and old is a good idea. The web and how people use the web is changing at an ever-increasing pace. It’s estimated that around 321 million users came online for the first time between October 2019 and October 2020 and that over 4.6 billion people across the globe now use the internet.
That’s an incredible feat, and for you as a business owner, it’s an incredible opportunity to open your business to more people across the world.
If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that business owners cannot just sit back and hope things will be ok, we need to be constantly pushing and evolving in order to stay afloat and to ensure that our businesses can survive whatever is thrown at them. As we’ve seen, that could quite literally be anything too.
Getting A Pro Or DIY?
At this point you’re probably wondering whether you should give it a go yourself, updating or rebuilding a website can’t be that difficult, surely?
While we’re in the business of designing websites , we can say that there are many options for the self-builder to try that do an adequate job of creating your space online.
If you’re short on funds, or you just want to get something up quick, then a website template form one of the major platforms such as WordPress might be the way to go, and plenty of businesses have made excellent websites for themselves using these platforms.
The issue you will quickly run into is in optimisation. It’s one thing to have a flash looking website, but a very different thing to have a website that performs well. We’re talking technical SEO, site speed, and of course websites that adhere to the very strict GDPR policies we have in the UK, and privacy policies across the world.
Getting Started With Your Website Update
Here are our 10 key steps in our website update process, this will give you an insight into the things that you’ll need to cover whether you go with a pro or go DIY.
1 Decide if you need a redesign or a refresh
There’s an important distinction to be made here between a redesign and a refresh. While a redesign will incorporate some aspects of a refresh, a refresh is generally a smaller (and cheaper) option.
It’s always a bonus if you can keep costs low if you’re a local business but your website’s design will play a huge part in driving traffic and conversions so, it’s the question of ‘will my website give me a better return on investment if I update it?’
Let’s take a quick look at the differences between the two.
If your website is performing ok and designed on a platform that works well for you and your business (WordPress for example) but it’s looking a bit tired, it needs an update, and some optimisation, then a refresh might be your best option.
A website refresh is exactly that, updating and improving the look and feel without changing the foundational structure. Think of it like painting your living room to give it a fresh look.
A website redesign is a much bigger job, but it’s great for businesses and individuals who need a whole new look and a full update.
During a website redesign it’s common to update the coding behind the scenes, perhaps move you to a better CMS (Content Management System) and improve site security.
Redesigns are big jobs, but they can have a huge impact on your traffic, often improving the speed and optimisation for SEO along with updating the look, feel, and stability.
2 Go through your analytics – which pages perform the best?
Once you’ve decided whether you’re looking to do a redesign or a refresh, you’ll need to take a step back and have a look at your analytics to make some decisions.
Deciding which pages to really focus on could be quite difficult, and it’s not as simple as ‘that page performs worst, let’s update it’.
There could be many reasons why pages underperform or over-perform, but looking at your side as a whole is vital.
The general rule here is that you don’t want to make too many changes to a well-performing page, but performance needs to be benchmarked.
Are you measuring conversions? Traffic? Time on-page? You’ll need to decide what ‘good performance’ looks like to you and your business, taking into account that each page on your website serves a different function.
3 Which pages perform the worst, and why?
Along the same lines as finding out which pages perform well, you’ll also find out from looking at your analytics which pages perform poorly.
At this point, it really is work speaking with a professional web design company to really get a better insight as to why your pages under-perform.
We have access to specialist testing software like heatmaps and feedback services that can really help you gain a bigger insight into why pages perform poorly.
Pro tip: if you’re running an online store or an ecommerce business , your site’s speed, ease-of-use and overall navigation will play a huge part in generating revenue. Always pay attention to customer pain points. Make their journey as simple as possible!
4 Mark pages for full redesign or updates
Once you’ve decided whether you need a full redesign or just a refresh and you’ve found out which pages perform well and which underperform, it’s time to decide which pages you’ll be focusing on.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that, for most businesses, less is more. If you have hundreds of pages on your site, it may be worth considering combining pages where it makes sense. This can speed up your site and improve user navigation issues.
5 Involve your whole team in the strategy
You’re at the point of coming up with your website redesign strategy, but it is vital that you don’t leave the rest of your team out of this part.
If your business is big enough to have a marketing team, roles such as copywriters, graphic designers, video editors, social media specialists, etc, it is imperative that they are involved in the process of your website redesign.
You’ll need their insights on your branding designs , development, look and feel, copywriters will be able to add their flair to the wording on the site, and SEO specialists will ensure your site is optimised to perform well in search.
If you haven’t got a team to help you, don’t worry. Professional website redesign companies such as ours have access to a whole team of professionals with years of experience who are able to help you make the right decisions for your website.
6 Get building
Now we’re at the really exciting point, the build!
It’s recommended that you leave this up to a professional, especially if you’re going for a full redesign that will involve recoding or moving to a better CRM.
The company you choose to handle your redesign will let you know their process on how long this should take and how long until you get something to test, take note of these timeframes as a job well done is one that isn’t rushed.
Please always remember to make sure your staging environment can’t be found by search engines and crawlers. Google and Bing will try to access any link they can find on the web – you can prevent them from accessing your site by password protecting it or blocking the site using your Robots.txt file.
At some point down the line, you’ll get something to test.
Testing is a really important phase of the website redesign process, but it must be taken with a pinch of salt. Don’t expect your test website to work flawlessly, in fact, it’s very rare that you’ll be sent an entirely finished product to test.
Keep in touch with your website redesign company, and take note of any parts of the site they warn will not work. These could be things like dead links or ‘space saver’ images that may not look the prettiest but they give an indication on size and positioning.
You’ll need to test your website in different browsers, on different OSs, with a range of popular plugins (such as Adblock) installed, and of course on different mobile devices.
It makes no sense to design a website purely for desktop experience when mobile traffic is now roughly 50% of all internet traffic, and it’s growing year on year.
During the testing phase, you’ll be checking to make sure things work, pages are where they should be, images look right, and nothing is broken.
During optimisation, you’ll take that one step further by making sure your website performs well and is set up for good SEO.
SEO is a long game, and for a brand new website or blog, you shouldn’t expect it to rank particularly highly on Google for a few weeks, and this will only happen if the content is optimised correctly in the first place.
Speak with your SEO specialist about both on-page and off-page SEO options, including local SEO and white hat link building to ensure your website is ready to perform at its best as soon as possible.
This part of the build could go on for a while, it’s very much a ‘rinse and repeat’ section.
You’ll spend some time going back and forth with various members of your team both testing and optimising your site to make sure it’s ready for launch. It’s important not to rush this part but to ensure you have covered as many bases as possible.
Even simple things like a second set of eyes over the wording to proof-read bits will need to be done multiple times to ensure everything is right before launch day.
The moment has arrived: launch day!
Now, this may not be as exciting as a SpaceX launch, but for you and your business, it’s still a pretty exciting moment!
It’s recommended that you pick launch day to be a day where your website usually gets it’s the lowest traffic, and if at all possible to launch your newly redesigned website in the small hours of the morning so that any issues can be ironed out ready for morning traffic.
This isn’t always possible, but it is important to recognise that not all launches go smoothly and to expect some teething issues to begin with.
Pro tip: post-launch is just as important as the planning leading up to your new site being ready. Once your site is live, always remember to check that your site can be found be search engines. Look for noindex tags and areas of the site that are blocked by Robots.txt.
Getting a fresh website redesign or update can transform a business, especially in these difficult times we’re now facing.
If your website needs an update, or perhaps you’re not even sure what it needs but you don’t feel like it’s performing particularly well, contact our friendly team.
We’ll be happy to discuss your options with you and take you through our process to ensure that you’re getting the right advice at the right time, and the right website package for you and your business.