So you’re ready to revamp your website and bring it “up-to-date.” The first step for most businesses is to head over to Google and search or ask a few friends if they know any reputable web design agencies. Next, they request a few features and changes they’d like to see, get a proposal, hand over the keys, and let the agency drive the ship. This common approach is full of risks and often results in less-than-desirable outcomes. Before you hand over your website, going through a pre-planning process for your next design project will help ensure you have success.
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In this post, we are going to look at what to do before you begin the website redesign process. Before you ever make the final decision to redesign, before you ever hire an agency, before you ever plan out your build, you need to consider these thoughts.
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Why Do I Want To Redesign My Site?
This is an extremely important question to ask yourself. The answers are even more important. Most of the time when I ask a business this question their response is, “My site looks/feels outdated.” While this may be the case and can be a good reason to redesign, this shouldn’t be the basis of your redesign. Your website is probably the most important online marketing asset your company has, so basing a major change only on a feeling is never a smart idea. If this is something you are considering, ask yourself some deeper questions to get to the real “why?”
- What about my site looks/feels outdated?
- Why do I feel that way about the outdated elements?
- How do I believe a redesign will solve this?
- What will my customers/audience think?
Consider Your Audience
Your website is for your users. This is a statement I think I have typed more than 100 times this year. But the reality is, it is the truth. As much as we would like to think our website is about us, it’s not. Yes, it’s part of the branding. Yes, it needs to reflect the company or organization. But when it comes down to the functionality and usability of the site, it is all about the user.
Often when doing an audit of a site, I find that the one thing the owner wants to change or dislikes the most is an aspect of the site their users actually like, use or interact with the most. Making changes based on your likes and dislikes can be damaging to your user’s experience and end up sabotaging your site.
You may be thinking, “How can I know what my users like or don’t like?” Thankfully, there are a number of great tools on the web to give you a better idea of how your audience interacts with your site in their natural setting. My favorite is Hotjar. This tool tracks how your users interact with your site and gives you valuable insight into how they are engaging with all of the different elements. It can even capture screen recordings which allow you to observe how your visitors are interacting in real-time. Check out Hotjar for free here.
Build on What Works, Forget What Failed
Building a plan is important and to help maximize the likelihood that your plan will achieve its desired goal, it must be based on success. Seems simple right? The problem is we don’t actually do this very much. We build a plan around desired outcomes. Then we strategize, build timelines and begin putting the process into place. What ends up happening is we create the same mistakes as last time and see little or no progress.
What if then, before we set a goal or a desired outcome, we took the time to look at every aspect of our site, separated the successes and failures, and then set our goals based on this data? The most important thing we learn from failure is what not to do. But, we learn even more based on our success. Our success is a blueprint for future success. Now, just because it worked, doesn’t mean it will work again, but it might. What worked before has a better shot of working again than trying to succeed using something that has failed in the past. Forget what has failed and move on to what has worked.
In closing, I want to make something very clear. Don’t dismiss your “feeling”. Intuition is very powerful and can be a great indicator that a change is needed. Once you feel something about your website is off, do the work to find the why. Then look at how your audience is engaging and finally learn from your failures, but more importantly your successes. This will help you make a more educated decision, based on the facts that back up your feelings and will help lead you to a better solution.
Ready for the next step? Check out our free website redesign project plan. This free download will walk you through a 10-step process to help make sure the build and launch of your new design help you meet your goals.