Design September 08, 2020

Step-by-step website redesign plan that's a surefire way to achieve success in 2020

So, 2019 didn’t exactly go well as you had hoped.

You just couldn't manage to drive your projected sales nor even get the kind of traffic that you had in mind to your website. Well newsflash: you’re not the only one who had such disappointing results. And while you may feel too disheartened to continue, this is actually that moment when you should really introspect, head back to the storyboard and rethink your whole strategy, not rue over the dismal performance of your business. Because as they say, change is always good, and incidentally it’s just time for some positive change in your branding. 

There are a lot of factors that determine how your website will perform, primary among them being your website design. Now you might ask, “how does my website design matter that much when my products and services are what define my brand?” And this is where you will learn your first lesson. Your website is like the virtual window display of your business. If that window display is not appealing enough, not many are going to step in. And YOU WILL want people to step in if you want to drive sales. However, visual appeal is not all there is to your website design. Another important element that can either hold your visitors’ attention or drive them away is your website’s user experience. And I'm going to tell you how you can redesign your website to grab the attention of visitors, convert them into customers and ultimately succeed in your business, in a failsafe step-by-step manner. But more on that later. Let us first look at what goes into making a really good website. 

A poorly designed website can give an unprofessional look and feel to it, thereby resulting in lost opportunities in lead generation and ultimately ending up in business loses or even failure. Ask yourself this – what is the real purpose of having a website for your business? Undoubtedly it is to sell your products and/or services by converting visitors into customers. But how do you do that? You present as much useful information to them as possible, albeit in an engaging manner. And when I say engaging manner, your website should be able to stop your visitors in track and hold their attention long enough to push them further into consecutive web pages that describe your products and services in details. A good website is one that ensures optimal user experience by following these simple rules: 

  • Gives readers exactly what they want to see or read so they can make informed decisions 

  • Has an improved layout so visitors can navigate around easily 

  • Has quick loading pages so visitors don’t stay hanging on one page for long 

  • Uses simplistic color coordination that is easy on the eyes 

  • Has a working contact page that allows visitors to reach out to the owner via email, phone or a contact form 

  • Is a multiple browser and multiple device compatible responsive website to have a wider reach

Now that we have established what makes a good website, let’s get down to how to plan your website redesign project so you’re ready to make a big comeback in 2020. But first, why is it so important to plan? Planning for website redesign is important because if you don’t plan you will be facing some really serious problems like unforeseen and unwanted organizational expenses, delay in marketing initiatives and even inter departmental disagreements. And one grave mistake that many tend to make is expedite their website launch without proper planning, simply because they want to jump sooner into the market and start making money right away. Unfortunately, that’s not how it goes. Not only will you not make a positive impression with a shoddy website, but you would suffer huge losses as well. One doesn’t just design a website out of a whim, nor is it a fast-track money making method. Which is the whole point behind this blog, because I’m trying to show you what may have gone wrong during your first attempt, why not to repeat those mistakes and how to do it properly this time. 

Here are 10 step-by-step procedures, in no particular order, to plan for an impactful website redesign project in 2020:

1. Prep your website

 Since website redesigning is more of a task that you’re picking up from a previous stage where you left it, you must be extra careful from now on, meaning doing nothing based on guesswork or intuition. Make a thorough assessment of your pre-existing website, including its layout, the technology used and the marketing techniques you had adopted. Study the current digital trends vis-à-vis your target audience and compare your previous strategy with strategies applicable to the new trends and technologies so you can apply what you had missed in your first attempt. A good way to do is would be to look up successful business (in your category) to know what they are doing right. Rally your whole team and get them to meet on the same page, so everyone understands their respective roles to achieve that singular goal.

Now that you’re ready to prep your website, identify the areas that require change and start tweaking. Do not hold back from inviting suggestions and ideas from everyone in your team in case you’re on a budget or cash crunched. After all, multiple heads work better than one. Analyze your competitors, especially the successful ones, for pointers but at no cost must you lose your identity. So long as you stay different from the others, your brand will appear unique in the eyes of consumers, thus adding substantial weight to it.

2. Create a customer profile

The next step is pretty damning and ignoring it has proved to be the single biggest reason why many startup companies failed across various business verticals. I'm talking about creating a customer profile around your products or services. You see, it is easy to go crazy with ideas on improving your product/service, but what’s not easy is getting a steady flow of customers to buy it or even inquire about it. And just to give you an idea how big a mistake not creating a customer profile can be, here’s a little statistical report for you to remember whenever you might stray from the path. According to a survey conducted by CB Insights to identify top 20 reasons startups fail, “no market need” occupied first place at 42%. Meaning, without a market for your products or services your business will not survive. This survey was based on the analysis of 101 startup failure post mortems. 

But do not let that little statistics deter you in any way. Creating a customer profile isn’t that complex a task if you’re careful and meticulous in your approach. The trick isn’t in giving a product or service that you think is a godsent for your customers, but the other way round. It is in identifying your valuable customers, doing in-depth survey on their needs and designing your products and services around those needs to be more customer centric. Remember, this isn’t about you, it is all about your customers and you have to listen to them if you wish to succeed.

3. Set up your goals

Now this is one area where you might get carried away and end up setting goals that might not do you any good in the end. Keep your wits about you and ask yourself why you are redesigning your website in the first place. Maybe it’s just something as simple as the need for a better-looking website or as big as a complete overhaul because of near insignificant traffic to it. In either case, it’s best to sit down with your entire team and engage them in a realistic goal that would give you better results in 2020. The advantage of setting a goal is to embed it firmly in the minds of your team so they stay on top of it all times, even coming forward with value additions from time to time. Without a goal, your website redesign project is like a ship sailing forth in no definite direction without a map, and ultimately getting lost in the sea.

4. Time to revamp your website layout

 Now I cannot stress enough on this exercise. Nobody likes wasting time on a cluttered website that has no aesthetic value, nor any decent structure. In fact, that’s the primary reason a whole lot of businesses lose out on missed opportunities when customers arrive on their website but leave with disappointment because they cannot navigate around with ease. The resulting scenario – no conversions, no sales. And ultimately the curtain falls on scores of companies that didn’t care to give any importance to their websites’ layout. Which is so surprising because planning a good layout for a website is not at all a complex task. Here are some ways how you can create an impressive layout for your website:

  • Choose a color scheme for your website that says simple yet appealing, sober yet professional. Nothing repels visitors and sends them packing more than a riot of colors that don’t make any sense. 

  • Choose wisely when it comes to picking the right font for your content and arranging them on your website. A mixed bag of fonts and irregular spacing can display an unprofessional attitude and ultimately put off readers. Readability should be your priority when it comes to planning your website layout. 

  • Incorporate some smart and well-designed call to action (CTA) buttons, such as ‘Get Started’, ‘Sign Up’, ‘Try Free for a Month’, ‘Subscribe’ and ‘Get Your Free Trial’ to try and convince visitors into taking an action that would subsequently profit your business. Interestingly, although a very effective technique, on the flipside you might scare away prospective customers if you don’t do it right. Yes, there’s a right way of implementing CTAs. For starters, be very careful about where you place the CTAs. Don't make it a humongous on-the-face, blaring marketing pitch, nor an obscure button that gets lost in some little corner of the webpage. And most importantly, do not at all costs incorporate CTAs as popups. That is a big no-no, because nobody likes being welcomed (read irritated) with popups as soon as they land on a website. 

  • Menus on your homepage are equally important. Whether you decide to go with collapsible menus or push menus, make sure that they are working and lead to the correct pages.

5. The redesign & redevelopment

You’re now finally ready to get down to the serious part of redesigning and redeveloping your website. This is where you might consider hiring some good UI/UX designer in case you don’t have one already. The user experience of your website will be a crucial aspect, with the ability to make or break your business. The process of redesigning should typically include the tasks of refreshing previous images with new ones, auditing the old links and changing them if necessary, updating old keywords with more current and relevant keywords and a complete overhaul of the website’s aesthetics. A good way to start this would be to sit down with the designer/s to listen to their experienced inputs and share your own vision so everyone agrees on a common trajectory.

Remember, this should be more like a rebranding process without losing your brand identity. So, focus only on changes that optimize the user experience, not confuse your customers by presenting a whole new identity. Here are some tried and tested ways to rebrand yourself and make a positive impact:

  • Create a website design that centers around your customers so they can see that you value them more than anything else. Give them what you think they would love to hear and see, based on your research on consumer behavior. 

  • One simple move which shows that you are committed to progress and have great new things to offer is a change in your business logo with a refreshing one. Not only will the new logo complement your refurbished website, but will draw immediate attention of the customers. 

  • Change your previous CTAs with new and catchy ones. Go through the websites of businesses that have been successful in 2020 to find out what kind of CTAs they have implemented so you get an idea on what works in the current times. 

  •  Include only useful categories in your menu bar instead of cramming it with information that your customers may not be looking for at all. 

Your developers will have their hands full from this stage onwards. Their responsibility should be to be on the backend of the website to make sure that the URLs are stable and page loading is not being affected by images or videos. CSS and HTML validations, along with backup and security measures should be a vital part of this process.

6. Implement a responsive web design

In case you had not done this earlier which I highly doubt, it’s time to design your website into a responsive one. If your website was already structured on a responsive design, it would still be time that you made some changes to it. Technology evolves at a crazy pace and if you don’t move along with it, you’re going to miss out on a lot of both fun and profits. As you might already know, responsive design is an approach that allows your webpages to adjust and fit into the screens of multiple devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. What this design does is calibrates your webpages to resize the layout, texts and images by choosing the best arrangement possible for the device in question.

So, if you fall under the former category that hasn’t implemented responsive design yet, this would be the perfect opportunity to do so while you’re at the task of your website’s redesigning project. Your potential customer may not just be those that are sitting in front of desktops and laptops. There are almost 7 billion mobile phone users in the world as of 2020 and the numbers are only going to grow from here on. A record 80% of these mobile phone users were on the internet in 2019 and 40% of it led to an online transaction. What's more interesting is the revelation that three out of four teenagers are regular online shoppers as of this year. Surely, that should be reason enough for you to bring your A game with a strong responsive web design. Adding Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to your design table would be a smart move to optimize your mobile website and improve user experience.

Do take care though that you don’t make some of these common mistakes: 

  • Slow loading pages (more than 5 seconds) can prompt users to move swiftly to your rival companies 

  • Providing wrong information, such as wrong product description, incorrect prices, wrong image for the product, etc will most definitely create a bad and long-lasting impression on users 

  • If the mobile version of your website doesn’t impress the viewers, chances are they won’t be impressed by your business as well 

  • Visitors are not going to recommend your business if your website’s mobile version has a substandard design.

7. The infallible SEO

I don’t think you really need a reminder on the importance of SEO, but I would still like to add it to the list all the same. Search engine optimization or SEO, as we all know, is that one practice which will really make your brand visible to the world. By definition SEO is what helps in better ranking of your website and webpages on search engines. However, there’s more to SEO than just that. SEO also lends to an enhancement in the UI/UX of your webpages. Here’s how. It has been seen that people looking for something on search engines through specific keywords generally visit the websites that rank higher. So, websites that rank higher on search engines manage to gain the trust of these users. If your SEO game is really strong and gets you one of the coveted spots on the first page, then you can be sure that your UI/UX will go through a drastic improvement. 

SEO is a continuous process and should especially be one if you want to succeed in 2020. You have to be alert at all times to adapt with the evolving trends. It would be best to have a dedicated team of SEO professionals to be on top of the trends at all times. Conduct a sweeping online research for the most searched keywords to compile lists that keep getting updated regularly. Optimize everything starting from page title, meta tags, image tags and descriptions for enhanced visibility on search engine results pages (SERP). Back it up by publishing regular blogs and articles using the searched keywords. Above all, always remember to be on your toes, because you cannot afford any mistakes once your website goes live. Users browsing on search engines can be merciless in pronouncing their verdict. So, even if you manage to rank among the top, users might just ignore you solely based on poor formatting of the page/s that appear on search engines.

8. Testing your website

By now you have done all that there was to be done to revamp your website and it’s time to start testing it. Testing, however, shouldn’t be limited to just the prelaunch period, but should be a continuous process, to be conducted every few weeks to make sure there are no irregularities. Your developers will be your go-to people here for testing quality assurance, checking bugs and fixing them before you go live. Despite all these measures mistakes might happen, and the best way to locate and fix those mistakes is by allowing visitors to report errors on those pages. Make sure that the reports reach the developers instantly so they can address them promptly.

Do a mock run of the website to check for inconsistencies. Check every little detail, especially the CTAs, the contact forms, URL consistency, 404s and everything that calls for user participation on your website. This test run is vital to making a positive first impression on your visitors for the purpose of retention and eventually conversion into loyal customers. You can even go to Google PageSpeed Insights to test the speed of your website.

9. Time to go Live

Going live is the next step in the order of things. There are certain things that cannot be done in the testing stage, such as catching a preview of social media feeds and Google Reviews for your website. Your website needs to go live for those functionalities. Going live also gives you the opportunity to setup and install Google Analytics so you can keep track of your website’s performance vis-à-vis the number of visitors, their demographics, their age group, etc and measure your advertising return on investment (ROI). This will help you make changes along the way to improve your website. Besides Google Analytics, there are other website visitor tracking software that you can consider, including Crazy Egg, SEM Rush, Mixpanel, Full Story and Leadfeeder. Some of these tracking tools are free while some are paid. You can choose depending on the package that suits your requirements. 

10. Launching your website

Time to announce and prepare for the launch. Don’t hold back on this one. Make as much noise as you can to spread the word to the world. One highly effective way to do that is to share the news of the launch on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You can also create short introductory videos about your business and publish on YouTube for wider mileage. But all these after conducting one final test run of the site. You’ve spent weeks, maybe months on the whole jig. One last test run is not going to hurt anybody, nor will it make you lose out on precious business. On the contrary, because you have a lot riding on this, mostly great hopes, you just can’t be too sure. So, run one final speed test of all webpages and audit optimizations on those pages. Once you’ve done that and are sure everything is working perfectly, hit the launch button wait for good things to unfold.

Conclusion

Although you have done everything in the book to ensure a flawless website redesign project, your work doesn’t simply end there. In fact, now you need to be more vigilant and focus all your attention on the maintenance and regular optimization of your website. Website maintenance is an elaborate and continuous task, one that will keep your designers and developers engaged long after you have launched your website. There is no way you can display complacency here, thinking the real challenge is over. Good news is, you have sown the seed for success, and it’s time for you to look after your garden until they grow fully.

Manab J Kharkataray

09/08/2020

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