Top Ten Things to Consider When Redeveloping a Website
- Make the website look more modern and in tune with time
- Make sure that the website appeals to the new wave of people viewing your site on the internet
- Make sure that your website is responsive
- Add E-Commerce to your site
- Make sure that you refresh the website for SEO purposes
In this, the latest in my Top Ten series, here is a list of Top Ten Things to Consider When Redeveloping a Website
Section 1: General Questions
What are your Goals?
It sounds trivial but it is extremely important that you are clear about why you are redeveloping your website. Redeveloping a website is going to consume resources from your business. It is going to take time to redevelop, money for the designs to be done and the coding of the site. So you have to see it as a strategic investment and clearly define your goals for the website re-design. For example, in January 2013, Xava website was completely redeigned. The aim was to move away from the text based website that existed in 2012 and create a more user-friendly experience. Graphic elements were integrated into the site to allow for the information to be presented in a user-friendly manner. So the aim of the redesign has to be clear from day one so progress can be measured in the future to find the Return on Investment for the redevelopment project. Take a look at the 2 home page designs for Xava and decide for yourself.vs
Complete Redesign or Selective Redesign?
Your website might not need a complete overhaul. You can only answer this question satisfactorily if you have looked at and fully understood the Ananlytics data form your website. If the content on your site is working well and attracting traffic, then minor page redevelopment might be enough to refresh your site. However, if your site traffic shows poor engagement and high Bounce Rates, it could indicate that your content is poorly placed on the site or is difficult to find. In this case, the redevelopment of the whole site is advisable to create a fresh sitemap and content.
There might be budgetary constraints to getting the whole site redevloped from the ground-up. As long as your goals are clearly defined, you can do the complete redevelopment in stages to ease the budgetary pressures.
Do a SWOT and Competitor Analysis
Your website like any other part of your business has strengths and weaknesses. Treat it as such and do a SWOT analysis. Think of your website from your own perspective and that of your customers and fill up the SWOT analysis. Look at other competing websites and websites outside of your contry to list in the SWOT analysis. Now you will be ready to address the weaknesses of your site by ranking them in order of priority.
The second step is to do a Competitor Analysis. Rank yourself among competing websites using this handy competitor analysis template. Replace the 1/2/3 with a ranking 1 being the lowest and 3 being the highest. Be sure to be completely honest. This will give you an idea of the competitive landscape that your website has to exist in.
Be realistic in drawing up a schedule for your website redesign. If you have a graphic designer and and a web designer involved, you can transfer the stress of meeting these deadlines to the contractors but be proactive in managing those schedules.
I have been in a situation with a previous employer where the web designer took 6 weeks to complete a design even though they had given a 2 week estimate. In this case, it did not matter because the website was for entry into a new market and there were other issues that needed to be addressed but a 4 week delay is unacceptable.
Section 2: Technology
What platform to use?
This one is something you have to keep in mind to ensure ease of maintenance going forward. I have had clients who have had to resort to a new website because the previous web designer moved away from Ireland and the file structure was just too complex for them to understand. Do a little bit of research and try and ask for industry standard tools like WordPress or Joomla so minor edits in the future are not a big headache for you. Proprietary design techniques (in use by some web design companies) is a way of companies locking you in to a contract. Ideally, you want the freedom to own your website and to have the ability to change it without needing external assistance.
We have all heard about SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. It is the most cost-efficient way of advertising your website on the internet. Good SEO allows your customers to find you organically and reduces the need for paid advertising for your business. SEO is a vast topic in itself and there is lots of information on the internet. However, SEO is not something that you build into the site after it has been designed. You need to be thinking of the SEO before the redesign. Read the Search Engine Land blog to understand more.