Website Redesign Steps
7 Minutes, 18 Seconds
Written By John Marx
We have been working with a lot of new clients recently that have wanted to improve their search results and update their marketing of their business. One recent client went from page 3 to page 1 in only 5 months (your results may vary) by proper planning and working to make a site that showcases what she wanted her business to show.
Below is what we provided to her for her existing site to achieve the search engine results she is getting today as well as getting qualified referrals from her website. With the proper graphic designer, web designer and the proper team at your company (which may be just you!) you can achieve some great results that help improve your overall brand image.
You have to think about your users as they are the most important aspect of your website. The second piece is that of the computer; search engines to be specific. You need to make certain your site is friendly and that a computer can understand it clearly without sacrificing the readability of your users. The speed and capacity planning of your site is critical in providing a great end user experience (think the government's health care site that didn't get good planning on the perception users had).
Log Analysis and Initial Audit
The first item we did was dig into who was currently visiting her site as well as how they navigated the site and the top pages. The hard part here was the original designer did not setup any sort of analytics to the site and the company hosting didn't provide easy access to the logs that all websites keep track of. We worked with the provider and gained 6 years' worth of pertinent information.
Performing the log analysis before the project planning we were able to find crucial information. This did add to the original planning stage but did allow for clearly seeing some omissions as well as suggestions for improvement based on actual data. Utilizing the log information we were able to make some significant suggestions to the new design to the graphic designer to tailor the site not only to the visitors desires but also the type of browsers (desktop, tablet and mobile) that they were using. The business owner thought that her site was used one way when the logs clearly showed they interacted with her site in a completely different manner.
Project Planning and Redesign Site Specification
With every project proper planning up front is crucial. We are always given a list of objectives from the client which is the first step of the process. The next part is looking at the information provided, the type of site that is desired whether it is a five page or a website with thousands of pages. We make certain to build a solution, provide recommendations, and make certain the recommended solution meets all of their needs. The solution we provide we make certain can work today but also has the foundation built to grow without having to be thrown out and started over when an update is needed.
When looking at a site redesign it is a great time to evaluate the specific structure of the site. In many cases the structure no longer fits what current standards that the search engines look for. By using a semantic site design and a logical folder structure we can make certain that the site makes sense to not only the visitors of the site but the search engines as well.
This step can be seen as an added expense as it can add an hour to hundreds of hours for a major project. Doing proper planning up front can save a company whether it is a single person company or many thousands of employees company money in the long run of their Internet push.
When we talk about audience targeting we are looking at how your users interact with your site. Whether they use your site logged in or as anonymous visitors. Whether they are business, government, consumers or a combination of these groups. You could end up taking your single site and having multiple personas to meet the needs of your users.
When looking at this area we also carefully evaluate the overall security mechanisms to put onto the site. Every site has to go through some deep dives into security as even a simple security violation can ruin your brand image while a severe violation can reveal private customer information.
Review Stage and Job Assignment
After looking at the original project plan and redesign specification and analyzing the logs of a website this is the perfect time to review of the original request. Here new items of scope can be found, items that are no longer needed removed and to make certain everyone is on the same sheet in regard to realistic timelines to complete the redesign project.
The redesign process will fall into the hands of the web design firm as they are the experts in the technology of the Internet. The graphics team, which may also be the web design firm, will be the one coming up and proposing the new site layout, design and color templates to be used within the new site design. The content will routinely come from the client as they are the experts in their field. Making certain that all aspects are defined, understood and a timeline laid out is critical to hitting all of the timelines.
Project Management and Timelines
Timelines will have been talked about during the entire project process can, and will, fluctuate on every project. Every person on a project is busy and has items to complete not only for the redesign but their regular job activities as well. Making certain these are set and checked by the project manager is crucial to a successful rollout.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Each page of your site is unique and different and the SEO strategy needs to be unique to each page while keeping consistency across the entire site for both your visitors and the search engines. With search engines changing on a constant basis making certain that SEO is a core part of your redesign is crucial to the success of getting seen organically by the search engines. Organic search is when a user searches for your site and you don't have to pay for the paid top positions.
Every site we build goes through an exhaustive testing process. We test against the top desktop browsers of Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera and Mozilla Firefox. We test against Google Android, Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface tablets. We finish our testing on Google Droid, Apple iPhone, and Microsoft Windows Phone mobile devices.
Beyond checking across a wide variety of devices we also test against the current site structure. With the new site having a completely different site structure we cannot discount the old pages as the search engines will typically have those pages indexed. Having proper redirects to the new pages, if they have been moved, is critical. This will not only inform the search engines that the page has moved but will inform them that your site has been changed and is more relevant along with the new page location. As any website is updated the information within the site, in most cases, becomes more relevant and accurate for the people looking for information related to your website.
When you are ready to update your website image the key to success is a lot of planning and thought. A website that worked for years or even six months ago may not be promoting your business in the best light today. Treat your website as an employee and nurture it for success. Doing so will help bring in the results that you want. Do your diligence in seeing who your visitors are, how they interact with your current site compared to what you feel they should be doing. Look at how you can improve based on actual data and not your feelings. By doing so you will be making your website more accurate and designed for your site visitors.
If you would like to know more about how JM2 Webdesigners can assist you in your site redesign, a new website, search engine optimization or help with your online business give us a call at 219-229-1633 or email us at sales@BusinessYETI.com and we'll be in contact with you within one business day.
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