You’re coming to the realization that your website needs a redesign. We’re not talking about a few pages here, but a total tear-down. It’s a daunting task and there's a lot to consider, so you start putting together your best web design team and get to work.
It’s important to remember that a project this big can take months to complete, so you must be patient. There is research to be done, creative briefs to be drawn up and wireframes to be made—and that is just the planning phase. Next, you will need to complete an SEO strategy, create content and come up with a cohesive design, not to mention develop the new pages.
A web project should be viewed as a process. Here are some of the best website redesign practices you can implement when tackling a a new site.
A competitor analysis will tell you a couple of things. You’ll look at sites to see what you like and to see what could be improved. Start with a strictly aesthetic viewpoint and user experience, but you will need to go much further.
You’ll want to work with your agency to check for a number of things on your competitor’s website like:
To come up with the best web design plan, one of the first things your team should do is to clarify goals. This will help to make the process much smoother. You’ll want to get input from multiple departments involved and share their thoughts with your design team, including:
Find out what their goals are so your team can execute them correctly.
Ask questions like: What types of platforms will we use? Do we want to take advantage of an inbound marketing software like HubSpot? How do we want the site to feel to our visitors? Answering these questions will help reduce confusion in the early stages of the process and clear the way for you to complete your daunting task.
This is also a good time to put together a list of goals you’d like your site to achieve.
Also, if you have an IT department or technical team—alert them. This will help, just in case there is any technical information that needs to be shared with the design and development teams (things like usernames and passwords the designers and developers may need to gain access and get started).
This is the most important web design practice you can employ. There should be a clear understanding of who you are trying to reach.
A website is supposed to be an extension of your business. It’s what you use to communicate with your prospective and current customers. If you don’t know who those people are, your marketing efforts are more likely to fail.
A good way to find your target audience is to look at some of your current customers and create a user persona. Ask questions such as:
The answers to these questions (and many more) will help you better understand the people you are designing for. Knowing who it is you’re trying to reach makes it easier to create and design something you know will resonate with them.
Look for trends, including:
Once your user personas are created, the next step will be to develop your user’s journey and flow chart. This is where you’ll configure the best web design that encourages your visitors to convert on the site.
Their journey will be nurtured by the look and feel of the site. If your site doesn’t relate to the person you’re trying to reach, it won’t work, and the journey will end quickly. By creating user personas, your team can better understand the path visitors will take through the sales funnel.
Once you know who your audience is and what they’re searching, Your designer will use the information to come up with the best web design for your site. It starts by creating a site map.
A site map lays out all of the pages that will be on your website—it’s your navigation. It’s accounting for all the pages that need to live on the site.
(Pro Tip: Map your existing pages using a site mapping tool like Dynomapper, and add it to a workbook to keep everything organized.)
The map begins on your homepage. Branches will lead from there to places like your services page, products page, about page, etc.
This part of the process will also include a wireframe. Basically, your designer sketches your website. It’s a loose representation of where things will be on your site. Content, images, video, buttons and forms. It’s like a blueprint for your website.
Once wireframes are done, your designer pulls them into full color versions. Here, you can get into more specific aspects of the design like:
It is always helpful to have a rough idea of content in this step so visuals and content will be seamless.
Conduct an SEO audit on your site to identify which pages are driving the most traffic. This is where your keywords will be developed, which will help steer your content.
Once you understand who your audience is, you’ll have to find the keywords they are searching for. Put together a strategy and build a list of long-tail keywords, using a tool like SEM Rush. It will let you know how difficult your keywords are to rank for and how many people are searching those terms each month. Develop your content around the strongest keywords.
A good practice is to create pillar pages for each of your core services. These will be the pages you link many of your blogs to. (Why? Learn more about updated content strategy in this blog post.)
You may also need to have an assessment done. It’s essentially an audit that will tell you things like what words you’re currently ranking for, any third party plugins that will need to be transferred or eliminated, and if there are microsites that need to be addressed.
Start with your priority pages: your homepage, then your services or products page, the page that will be about your organization and contact information. We recommend having a blog and landing pages and to develop a few resources, like guides, potential customers can download and read.
While you’re coming up with your best web design, no matter the size of the site, you should also create an email template. This will allow you to have communication with your visitors and subscribers that matches the same style and brand as your website. You can email blog articles, engage with visitors and keep your brand top of mind.
Think of these best web design practices as a long-term plan. A web project is a lot like building a house: Your buyer persona is your foundation, your sitemap and wireframes are your blueprint, your pages are your rooms, and the design phase is the paint, wallpaper and interior design.
Taking a big web project one step at a time makes the project a lot less daunting and keeps everything on track. Not sure how much a website redesign will cost? Our guide “How to Budget for a Website Redesign” can help.