So You Need a Redesign: The First Steps

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So You Need a Redesign: The First Steps

OK - so your website is starting to show its age, and you're just about fed up with the drastic load times, archaic animations, and obsolete UX elements that are steering away more traffic than they're bringing in. Great! Despite what you might think, getting to that realization is half the battle, and instead of looking at it as a chore, think of your website redesign as an opportunity to modernize your online opportunities and create a more efficient destination for your readers, fans, or customers. The tricky business is figuring out where to start, what to do, or who to talk to. There's a lot to do - redesigning a website is about more than looks, it's a chance to analyze what's working, what's not, and to set new goals.

A redesign can be necessary for multiple reasons: your current website houses obsolete technologies, your organization is undergoing a rebranding, or your goals simply can't be met due to design limitations. Either way, if you're in the market to take on a website redesign, there are a few factors worth considering before you bite the bullet and begin working. This is a prime opportunity to review your analytics. Study what's been driving traffic, which keywords are proving effective, and where cuts might be possible on a page to page basis. Even if you're convinced that it's time to refresh, there stats are great benchmarks to compare against your new site.

Your redesign is a golden opportunity, so take advantage of the change to really evaluate the impact of your current efforts. Is your site's current functionality addressing the needs of your market? Is your content meaningful, raking well with SEO, and attracting traffic? Is your design in line with your company's branding? Is your site responsive, and is the CMS it's built on a hassle? If you're going to dig into modifications, it's best to lead the charge with informed requests, insight, and a vision of the new end product.

Start by identifying your new benchmarks and goals. Utilizing analytics and current conversion paths, set targets that are reachable first, and bold second. You can increase new and return traffic to your site by improving your SEO practices (some can be simple, others, more intensive - see here), decrease your bounce rate by publishing informed, relevant content, or increase conversion by offering a service or product for free and cutting a more streamlined path from your landing page to the target destination(s).

So far so good. Using the information gleaned from your efforts, you can now develop an outline of what your redesigned website will accomplish. Will it include a new blog, attract email submissions, showcase your accomplishments or steer users to give you a call? Be clear on what it is you want to accomplish, if not for your future self then for the design partners you'll potentially collaborate with. If you're considering these revisions on a corporate level, be sure that your colleagues' agendas are in sync with your own. Unity will be the single most important factor when it comes to ensuring that your new messages are clear as day.

It's not just your goals that need outlining, either - it's also the site itself. Drafting a site-map will not only visualize the functions of each page, it will also act as a checklist, confirming that all of your sought after utility is going to be present. Refer back to the analytics stats that highlighted popular pages, keep those intact, and begin designing wireframes that chart paths through your new website. Callouts, conversion paths, leave nothing out!

With new goals set, a website outline plotted, and a wireframe in place to illustrate functionality, you can begin with design. Remember that it's just that - a redesign. If you go about obliterating your old pages, you could forfeit your current SEO. Instead, note pages pulling reasonable traffic and leave them intact, or work out a 301 redirect to capture that traffic and send them to their new destination! Whether you do the redesign yourself or seek out the aid of an agency, you're primed to launch with these new initiatives lined up. If you keep an eye on how your goals are actuating and what modifications might need to be made, you're sure to see better results and prolong the lifespan of your new beauty, because your website will be in a constant state of adaptation.