The importance of your small business website can't be understated, and when it's time for a website redesign it's serious business. It's not enough for small businesses to put up a website to simply show they exist online.
Your website is the hub for your entire marketing efforts, and it must be able to take a prospect through the entire customer journey.
So, I'm going to take your through website redesign 101 in this article to make sure you nail it!
“Getting a quality website is not an expense but rather an investment.” - Dr. Christopher Dayagdag
There's a lot of reasons why your website might need a facelift. Here are a few reasons why you should consider a website redesign.
Keep in mind, redesigning a website is going to to take a certain amount of time and money to turn it into the money-making machine it should be.
Remember, this is an investment in your business, not an expense.
This is a loaded question because it is highly dependent on your specific needs.
All of the following will impact cost:
Because of this, website design costs run the gamut.
If you are reasonably skilled you can set up a simple template website by yourself for less than $100. A semi-custom site created on a full-featured website builder or a WordPress template in the 5-10 page range will typically cost between $1000-$4000 dollars.
With a custom site, the sky is the limit. They will typically start at $10K and will go up from there.
Now, you might be asking if you can do this yourself?
Absolutely, especially if you have the time and expertise. However, don't discount the importance of expertise.
The technical skills required to create or redesign a website can include:
Unless you feel comfortable with all this, you might consider hiring an expert that can do all the dirty work for you and ensure the end result is a valuable marketing tool for your business.
Even if you hire an expert, having a general idea what is involved in the website redesign process will be tremendously helpful for you. Let's jump right in.
This is a high-level overview of the steps required in the redesign process. I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty details because I think it's more important to understand the larger, more important steps in the process.
This is a very important step on this list. I like to call it "Needs Assessment". Identify the strengths as well as the weaknesses of your website.
Answer the questions below to understand the quality and performance of your website:
If you have a team, getting them involved in this step will be very helpful.
Do a Q&A session with them to fully understand the good and the bad sides of your website. Ask some of your better customers the same questions.
Doing this will give you a wider understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your current site, and provide you with a solid foundation of the needs your website redesign must address.
I like to call this step "Wants Assessment". When you determine your website needs a makeover, start setting goals. List your short-term and long-term goals.
What do you want to achieve? Here are some examples of goals you may want to consider:
Now that you have evaluated your website's current state and set your goals, it is time to come up with a strategy. This step is a long one but be sure to read through everything.
Save What You Can
I'm sure your current small business website design isn't a complete waste. There are things you can carry over to your new website like existing content, current keyword strategies, and conversion tools.
Keep the things that worked and delete what didn't. You will do yourself a huge favor by saving time and energy.
When I say spy, I mean research and discover the strengths of the websites of your competition. Try to adapt their strategies that are working.
Learn their site content, blogs, video, keywords and content offers. All these can help you come up with a stronger redesign plan.
Identify Your Ideal Customer(s)
If you don't know who your ideal customer(s) is, how can your website speak to them and their needs?
Look at who your best customers are and why they are the best. Traits to consider are:
You want your new website to speak to your ideal customer(s) because it will attract and connect with the people you need to grow your business.
Map Out and Create a Blueprint
This stage is where you map out your website navigation. There are a couple types of navigation to consider.
This is also known as Main Navigation which typically includes links like Home, About Us, Services, and Contact Us. You will find this at the top of the page or above the fold which allows your audience easy access to exactly what they are looking for.
These are additional links found on your website that you may not want to include in the primary navigation such as faqs or press releases.
Creating a website wireframe or a screen blueprint can be really helpful.
A wireframe is a visual guide that represents the structure of your website. Its purpose is to arrange parts of your website to best achieve your website redesign goals.
The image below gives you an idea what a website wireframe looks like.
Prioritize Your Content
Remember, your website content is very important. Save all the useful content from your current website prior to starting your redesign.
Don't know what content to include? Here are some examples:
Identify Your Calls-to-Action (CTA) and Landing Pages
In the beginning of this article, I mentioned your website needs to take prospects through the entire customer journey. Your website must have calls to action that encourage visitors to take the next step with your business.
It's important to identify the CTA's you want on your website and the landing pages you will need for your CTA's (if any).
What is a Call-To-Action (CTA)
A call to action is usually an image or line of text that prompts subscribers to take the next step. I'd encourage you to have a CTA on almost every single page on your website.
Lead Subscribers to a Landing Page
Sometimes your CTA's will allow people to immediately take the next step, like filling out their name and email to get your eBook.
In other cases, you may need to provide more information before asking people to opt in. This is where a landing page comes in.
A landing page is a standalone web page used for marketing and advertising. When a visitor clicks on the image or link you've displayed on your site, they "land" on the landing page for additional information.
Create a Map of Your Current vs New Website
In order to get where you want to go, you first need to understand where you currently are.
Before starting a website redesign, you must have a list of the current pages on your site and the URL for each page. Then you can map out what pages will stay and which ones will not. Screaming Frog is a popular tool for this purpose.
Part of this process is also determining what your URL structure will be and whether you will need to set up any redirects.
Don't Forget About Your SEO
Have you been spending time and money on SEO? Don't mess up your SEO when you transition to your new website.
Make sure you understand the keywords you currently rank for and the keywords you want to optimize for on your new website.
Using all the information you have gathered in step 3, it's now time to actually start building your new website.
Take it one page at a time, starting with your home page. When the site is complete you will want to test everything you can before going live.
The evaluation and planning stages of this process can take weeks or even months to complete but the most exciting stage is launching your newly redesigned website.
Hit that launch button and hold your breath!
New website launches are rarely perfect, so don't expect yours to be issue free. Once your site is live you'll want to double check to make sure everything is working as expected.
If you followed my advice above, you established some goals for your new website. Now it's time for the rubber to meet the road.
After a predetermined amount of time, you need to measure your website's performance against your goals. How did you do?
Don't get frustrated if you fell short. Now you know where you need to focus and make adjustments on your site to reach your goals.
Honestly, a website is really never done. You should consistently monitor performance versus your goals and make the necessary changes to continue improving performance.
You may have made some common website redesign mistakes. Let's take a look at some of the more common ones people make.
Redesigning a website is not an easy task. Even experts commit mistakes which can lead to a poor performing website. Here are some of the common mistakes you should avoid.
These website redesign mistakes are just a few out of the many mistakes out there.
However, if your redesign process is coupled with the best practices below, then you should be fine.
Here are some website redesign best practices to get you on track.
Communication is King
Effective communication is the key to a successful website redesign project. All the crucial steps should be communicated well with the stakeholders like developers, designers, marketing team, social media team, etc. This creates a strong system within your redesign team. Effective communication also helps save time, energy, and money.
Make Sure You Create Brand Consistency
Customers become loyal to a brand when they see consistency. Redesigning your website must be consistent with who you are as a brand. The overall web design should mirror your products and services and your customers should easily recognize your business at first glance.
Test the New Site for Usability
You don't want a totally unusable website. When you launch a new site, double check the following
Testing the overall usability of your site will help you maximize the visitor experience as much as possible.
Anticipate and Manage Setbacks
Every project encounters delays and problems. Sometimes these setbacks can't be avoided. The best thing to do is to anticipate them and manage them well when they happen.
A website redesign timeline can be affected by sickness, vacations, holidays and all sorts of emergencies but these can be managed by creating schedules and having backup personnel on standby.
Slowly but Surely Deploy in Stages
It is not necessary to make all the features of the new website active when you launch a new site. You can deploy them in phases. Start with the most important features first.
Then, continue deploying other features that may not be mission critical at the beginning. Doing this will allow you to collect user feedback as improvements occur.
I know what you're thinking, given all the redesign steps and mistakes to avoid, how do you choose a website redesign company to give you the best results? Let's look at that now.
To help you choose the best website design agency or firm, I put together a list of what to look for and what to do when evaluating them.
You'll also find this list of essential questions to ask before hiring a web design company helpful when interviewing potential companies to work with.
That's website redesign 101. You now have a great outline to get started and create an awesome small business website design that will serve your business well.
I hope you found this helpful. Feel free to comment below or share.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We help small businesses differentiate themselves from the competition, work with more ideal clients, command a premium for their products and services, and make marketing easier with consistent, repeatable results.