You are aware that your website needs redesigning. The process though is time-consuming, and it requires a lot of careful planning and organisation. The questions following are meant to help you gather all the necessary and useful information concerning your website’s redesigning so that you can make an informed decision.
The redesigning of a website should not be based on a momentary impulse simply because you are fed up with it. On the contrary, it should be a conscious decision based on the evaluation of the website’s content. The afore-mentioned evaluation should be taking into consideration the extent to which the design and the content of your website will help you achieve your business’s commercial purposes. It’s through this evaluation process that you will be able to locate the assets of your website, which contribute (or not), towards achieving these commercial purposes. What is more, you will be able to map out your next moves.
In any case, it is not a good idea to embark on your website’s redesign without having planned it carefully beforehand. It is of primary importance that the in-house team involved and supervising the project must first and foremostly set the goal of the process. Then the in-house team must communicate this goal and share it with the agency’s expert team. Alternatively, in case you wish to outsource the project, your goal should be shared with the team of experts chosen to take up the redesign.
In this detailed article, I have composed a list of questions which I believe will help you to gather useful information and organise it, without losing your focus. Have a look at these questions and invest time in providing the answers. You will undoubtedly benefit greatly from it!
01. What is the website’s goal?
What problem does the website redesign attempt to tackle? What are your company’s commercial purposes which will benefit from the redesign?
This piece of information is particularly crucial as it will direct you to make substantial changes regarding your website’s content, appearance, and its general architecture. At this point in the process, you have to set broad goals depending on your business’s industry. For instance, your goal could be brand awareness, increasing your website’s traffic, lead generation and/or customer service.
02. Are there any brand-based guidelines that you need to follow?
A business website must abide by the guidelines of the brand. Thus, there are some rules to be followed which comply with the brand’s marketing strategy. They need to be taken seriously into consideration when planning your website’s next version.
03. Does the structure of the current website achieve its goals?
Your website's redesign does not necessarily have to include changes in its structure. You have to evaluate if the website's visitors navigate your site fast and with ease and if they can fin what they are searching for. In other words, you have to assess if your website serves its purpose.
If your evaluation indicates that visitors have trouble finding their way around your site, then you should consider readjusting its structure. The same applies if the assessment shows that your visitors do not end up on the page you want them to (conversion point). Any readjustments should be based on the results of your research and evaluation.
Also, if you are in doubt and you are preoccupied about how you can conduct such research, worry not, as there are many tools available out there. Hotjar is one valuable tool! With the use of heatmaps and recordings, Hotjar can spot the locations on your website where the visitor has difficulty navigating or where they give up. In general, Hotjar will specify to you the way visitors browse your site by highlighting and indicating the points which need to be readjusted.
04. Does your website’s current content serve your commercial purposes?
Your website’s analytics and metrics are a valuable tool to use for the analysis of your website’s architecture. Keep in mind that this is the right moment in the process to check the quality of your website’s content. You should also make sure that what you deem as valuable content does indeed resonate with your audience and is popular with your visitors.
To efficiently analyse and evaluate the content of your website, you have to check the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These include but are not limited to the average time on page, pages per session, pageviews as well as report frequency and recency. You must also be aware of the device your website's visitors use to navigate your website and what is the source/medium of their choice. All this information regarding content will help you define your user’s journey on your website and to adjust the content and its architecture accordingly.
05. What kind of changes does the user interface/design require?
Technological developments and modern devices have brought about a considerable shift. Nothing has remained the same regarding the way the audience surfs the net. Everything has changed, including the how, the when and the medium the audience uses. Even the industry your business is in can affect your target audience’s perception about it. Thus, defining the best practice in design differs from industry to industry.
For example, up until a few years ago, placing content strategically above the fold (the top part of a website that the visitor could read without scrolling) was believed to be a best practice. It was also believed that we had to prevent the user from scrolling.
The extensive use of smartphones and tablets has trained the audience to scroll. It has taught them to expect to do some scrolling, especially when they are eager to locate the content they are after, even from their smartphone device.
On the other hand, the number of websites using parallax-style design has risen, especially when designing landing pages. This rise is brought about by the heavy use of tablets and smartphones. This rise has also brought on a change in the users' surfing habits.
Thus, before you decide on your website’s design, you have to take time and think about who your audience is. It would be best if you thought about its key characteristics which include the age of the users, the devices they use, the browsers they choose. Coming up with the answers to these questions will lead you to significant reconsiderations regarding the type of changes your website needs.
Tools like Hotjar mentioned above, and analytics will help you pinpoint and evaluate your website’s current condition. Keep in mind that the final goal of the UI design is to deliver the information to the user fast and in high quality. This is the reason site speed checks are performed frequently. Checking how much time it takes for a page on your website to load will help you locate your best and worst-performing pages and fix them in your redesign.
06. Does your server support the technology you are planning to use on your website?
Looking for a new server, especially when you have to deal with the redesigning project might not seem of primary significance to you. In fact, it might seem like a task of secondary importance which does not play a crucial role in your website’s redesign.
Think again, though. Before you move on to performing a big change, it is significant to know whether your hosting provider can cater to the needs of your new website! Can they support the technology you are planning to use on your new website (e.g. net, PHP, etc.)? Can they guarantee a series of features, such as better speed, stability, scalability, extensibility? Also, can they guarantee faster response times and hands-on customer support for your business’s future needs?
Luckily, when it comes to servers, there are many different solutions available out there. What might affect your decision is the cost and the trustworthiness of the web hosting provider. There are many online tools such as G2Crowd which can help you compare and contrast between different types of servers and web hosting companies. Make use of all the tools so that you will make an informed decision, suitable for your business’s needs.
07. Will you continue using your website’s current CMS or not?
The essential criteria affecting your choice is the server you will be using, and of course, the scalability offered. In other words, whether both the server and your website can handle the current changes and the ones you are planning to make in the future.
What you should also have in mind is how you will be able to update your website’s content daily. Usually, it takes a certain amount of time for a team of people to get accustomed to using a new CMS. However, getting your team on board and training them should not worry you as this is an issue that can be dealt with rather quickly.
Another thing you should have in mind is if you have access to all the files you might need to perform the changes on your website. If the person or team that built your current website is unavailable, then you probably do not have access to the files and the code used for your website. You only have access to the actual site.
To avoid this type of inconvenience, you can choose an open-source platform which will guarantee your website easy maintenance and development. On the other hand, though, the support of an open-source platform is not as professional as you might need it to be when compared to closed source platforms. This is why you need to perform a thorough research of the market and check what type of platform suits your business needs best.
08. How will you perform the data transfer from your old website to the new?
You must know the type and the volume of the content you have already published. Then, you must examine all the alternatives that are available out there and find the best way to transfer your content from the old site to the new. You must also thoroughly map out the entire process of migrating your content.
The answer to this question is a catalyst in choosing a CMS, as migration is a critical variable to take into consideration.
09. How do I make sure that these changes will not affect my website’s SEO?
Before attempting any change, evaluate your current website’s SEO performance and locate what works well, what does not, and where there is still room for improvement.
An even more valuable and vital part of the process is to make a list of the actions you need to take during the migration process. This list will eradicate the possibility of SEO-related problems arising. This way, your website’s rankings will not be affected. Some of the actions you will need to take into consideration are the redirects and server responses (3xx, 4xx, 5xx).
10. What are the business parameters that might affect the redesigning of your website?
It would be best if you examined your options by taking into consideration the timing, the budget available, the time you have at your disposal and the available resources. This way, you will end up using the best technologies to achieve your goals in the best possible way.
For instance, if your website is old and uses flash or it is static (not built on a CMS platform), it would be better if you chose to redesign your website using HTML5/jQuery through a CMS. These are more modern and more scalable, and you can use this technology in the future if you wish to extend your website further.
All the points mentioned above, are only a few of the parameters you should examine.
Every business, every brand and thus, every website has different parameters which need to be taken into consideration when embarking on redesigning a website. It is not a decision which should be taken lightly!
These 10 points can be used as a valuable guide, a good start to help you consider your business’s needs and plan out the redesigning process of your website.
Still having questions? Reach out to us with your project, and we will guide you in the right direction.