When we ask our clients why they want a redesigned website, the most common response we hear is their desire for a “modernized site” or to give it a “a fresh, new look”. Cosmetic improvements, combined with hopes for new leads, can be exciting reasons to embark on a redesign. From a strategic point of view, it’s a golden opportunity to step back and evaluate the bigger picture – such as your overall marketing goals. A web refresh can strike a balance between delivering a visually memorable website that also happens to be aligned with your broader business objectives. Here are some tips on tackling your web update like a pro:
Know your Audience
Great websites connect with target clientele on an authentic level. Start by establishing clear empathy with the audience you are planning to serve. Understand their problem, how they feel about it, and how you can help to solve it. When you solve problems for your customers in their moment of need, you’ll see your conversion rates soar. And by thinking like a customer, you’ll be well on your way to creating new web presence that resonates with prospective clients.
As with any business process, clearly defined goals will guide you to your objective. For a web presence, goals are typically contact-related (contact form submissions, inbound phone calls, conversion optimization), engagement-related (subscriptions, sign-ups, interactions), and traffic-related (volume of visitors, geographic distribution, page metrics). Over time, you can measure these key performance indicators, compare against benchmarks, and adjust your strategy accordingly. By setting goals in advance, you will get the best return on investment from your online marketing efforts.
When was the last time you performed an incognito Google search for your products or services? (By going incognito, you won’t taint your results with your previous browsing history.) You might be surprised by what you find. By conducting online market research, you’ll see who, in your industry, has done the best job of digital marketing and who is lagging. When analyzing competitive strengths and weaknesses, look beyond the website and evaluate their entire digital presence including: social media accounts, paid advertising, and organic search results. A website redesign is a perfect chance to leave competitors in the dust.
Imagine that you are encountering your website for the very first time. What would you hope to see? For starters: a clean, modern, easy-to-navigate homepage. Powerful visuals and convincing value statements will assure users that they have arrived at the right place. Make it intuitive for prospective clients to find the information they are looking for, request further details, or make a payment. Well-placed and well-worded “calls-to-action” will aid in converting visitors into paying customers. By removing the friction at every step of the user’s experience, you will be on your way to creating a profitable digital presence.
Compelling content extends beyond text on a page. It includes thoughtful integration of copy, images and multimedia. Well-structured, easily-found content is vital to conveying the right message. A redesign is a terrific opportunity to enhance and expand your current content. If you have an existing blog, there should be SEO value in migrating it to the new site. Be mindful that your content needs to have a consistent theme and structure from page to page. Additionally, your audience will be well served by clearly crafted value propositions, reinforced with social proof.
Search behaviour has changed since your last website redesign. Web searchers are savvier than ever before. More often, they are turning to their mobile phones, consulting social media, and researching competitors online. A search strategy capitalizes on these trends. Step one is having a web presence that favours mobile-first. Step two is ensuring that you display prominently in search engine results (while this is easier said than done, an optimization plan from a reputable SEO company will help). The final step, is building a loyal base of followers and gathering positive reviews. This takes time, but implementation can be as simple as directly asking your customers for a Facebook or Google review.
Website Redesign Fails
There are many pitfalls to avoid when refreshing your site. By sidestepping these traps, you can save hours of aggravation:
The Field of Dreams Effect
“If we build it, they will come”. The reality is that rebuilding your website is unlikely to result in an immediate increase in visitors and visibility. In fact, a relaunch can often have a temporary downturn in traffic. And if “301 redirects” haven’t been set up properly, then you can experience a major downturn in traffic. A monthly SEO program should be part of your ongoing marketing strategy to help you steadily climb up the rankings.
Falling for Gimmicks
Many digital marketers are guilty of being attracted to the next shiny widget, gadget or app that they happen to notice on another website. Stop and ask yourself if it adds value for your visitors? Or is it a vanity item? New functionality can be worthwhile if is serves your business goals and makes for a better user experience. If not, then ditch it and move on.
No Post-Launch Plan
A website is not meant to be static, like a billboard. It is a living, breathing reflection of your company. In fact, Google rewards activity, visitor interaction and continually expanded content. So, don’t let your site languish. Buffer against steady erosion by continually updating, adding and changing content. You may not be able to entirely future-proof your website, but you can stay relevant in the rankings and provide excellent value to your clients by ensuring that your new website evolves over time.
Failing to Measure
Marketing ROI can always be found in the numbers. Make sure that your new website data is being tracked by a properly configured platform such as Google Analytics and Search Console. For redesigns, it is critical to monitor the continuity of your traffic sources and immediately evaluate how users interact with your new site. Red flags should be obvious if you are looking for them. Be sure to benchmark existing data such as top performing pages, bounce rate, ranking keywords, time on site, and unique visitors.
NetGain has been designing websites in Barrie Ontario for over 10 years. It’s still a toss-up whether our team prefers creating brand-new websites from scratch or whether we prefer redesigning an existing site. There are pros and cons to both, but for me there’s a certain pride in the “before and after” comparison. If a new website is on your radar, then feel free to reach out to NetGain for advice. We would love to discuss your project.