If you’re a small business owner or you’re responsible for marketing at a small business, you know your company website is a key component in your marketing arsenal and it needs to represent you well. If your website is more than a few years old chances are its functionality, appearance, and overall customer experience are lacking. If you’re noticing a drop in traffic or conversions it may be time for an overhaul.
Depending on your site’s age and the platform it’s built on, it might need nothing more than a facelift here and there. On the other hand it could be time for a complete makeover.
If it’s time for a redesign, here are 5 tips to consider as you plan your project.
1. Choose a reputable website designer and engage them during each phase for feedback and guidance
Unless you have mad design skills you’re going to need the help of a third party vendor. It seems like there’s a web designer on every corner – be sure to vet your candidates thoroughly. Ask for references, look at live samples of their work, look at their website. The good ones (and there are plenty) will be glad to advise you on design ideas, metrics and goals, and optimizing your site for search.
2. Identify desired components and capabilities
Depending on the nature of your business, the primary objectives of your website most likely are:
- Provide an easy and quick way for customers to contact you
- Serve as a 24/7 “electronic brochure” to promote your capabilities and accomplishments, and to educate visitors about your business
- Present a credible and professional company image
- If you sell a product, then e-commerce – selling your product online – may be a primary function
As you decide what your objectives should be, your intel should come from 3 primary sources.
From internal discussion:
Gather all stakeholders together and talk through what your website needs to accomplish. Involve your company’s senior leadership, marketing & sales and operations personnel to ensure you’re considering all facets of your company’s business. Make sure everyone who will be affected by the site has a chance to offer their perspectives and you’ll have optimal buy-in for your project plan.
From your existing site:
It’s important to understand what is working well on your current site. Naturally you want to protect and preserve your most viewed content and most trafficked pages (see benchmarks discussion below). Make sure you’re looking at your site’s metrics with Google Analytics or an equivalent. Take the best performing areas of your site and showcase them in your redesign.
From other websites:
If you’re connected with colleagues (not direct competitors) in your industry, talk with them and look at their sites to see what’s working for them. Also look at competitors – what are the pros and cons of their sites? You definitely don’t want to copy them but you’ll get a good view of what to do and what not to do. Take your inspiration from the best, but make it your own.
3. Benchmark current site metrics
Google Analytics can give you a wealth of intel on your website. How much site traffic are you seeing, and how much is from non-branded organic searches? How many pages are viewed per visit, and what’s the average duration of visits to your site? What are the most viewed pages and what links are clicked the most? How many conversions are you seeing?
This is an essential pre-planning step that lets you determine what’s working and what needs work. From those benchmarks you’ll be able to compare how your site performs before and after the redesign.
4. Set goals for the new site
Your goals need to be specific, measurable, actionable, results-focused, and time-bound. Think about your benchmarks and what you want to improve. Think about overall site traffic, bounce rate, and conversions (whatever is most important to your business – signing up for a newsletter, downloading a white paper, online purchases, etc.).
Examples would be:
- Increase traffic by 20% while decreasing bounce rate by 20% in the next 6 months.
- Increase conversions by 10% in the first 90 days.
Only you and your team can decide what goals are realistic for your business but they should follow a form similar to these examples. Communicate these goals to your vendor and ask for recommendations on how to attain them.
5. Develop a timeline for production and launch with your vendor
Build a gantt chart or similar calendar that lists everything that needs to be done from pre-planning through build out, testing, and launch. Identify who’s responsible for each task. Include key milestones that require approval before moving on to next phases. Assign dates by which each task is to be completed. (Be sure to set deadlines for approvals too; you don’t want to be the cause of any delays.) Monitor your progress continuously and keep your project on track.
Naturally, there is a mountain of detail you must manage in order to successfully redesign and launch your website, but these tips will get you off to a good start.
Have you redesigned your company’s website? What tips can you add to the list? Don’t leave before posting a comment.
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