The 5 Critical Steps Before a Website Redesign

web design, website strategy

September 20, 2013 by

You have less than five seconds to capture the attention of a visitor on your website. And if you are lucky enough to capture their attention, you then have to persuade them to join your email list, become a sales lead, purchase a product, or whatever other conversion is key for your business.

Before you jump into the process of revamping your site, you have to start with a solid foundation. A site redesign is a big investment in the future success of your company, making it worth your while to approach such a project in a thoughtful, strategic manner.

1. Determine Positioning

Approach a website redesign as if you were creating a marketing plan.  Before you begin a redesign project, answer the following questions to learn if there may be something that could enhance the direction of the project:

  • Why do your business and products or services matter? Consider how your business benefits the lives of its customers.
  • Who are your competitors? List at least four direct competitors. Identify how your company is similar and what sets you apart from them.

2. Develop Customer Personas

customer personasIn order to appeal to your target consumer, you must know who your target consumer is. Rather than appealing to different audiences, make your web design more efficient and productive by targeting those who are most likely to make a purchase.

A persona is a picture of your ideal customer. Their outstanding feature is that, as opposed to customer demographics, they allow you and your marketing team to empathize with your prospective buyers.  To this end, they often have memorable names like “Overworked Oliver,” or “Loyal Lisa.”

We have found that having more than four personas dramatically reduces their effectiveness.  You can almost always get a company’s personas down to three or four by identifying them by the truly important characteristics of the buyer types.  Note that these are almost always psychographics (how they think) instead of demographics. RELATED CLASS: How to Understand Your Buyers: 5 Insights for Better Marketing

For each major group, it helps to know characteristics such as:

  • Geographic location
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Age range
  • Profession
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Level of comfort on the web
  • Average sales size and lifetime value

In a B2B context, you will want to know additional information about the business, and your persona’s role inside of that business.

3. Find Your Brand's Personality

The look of your site should be consistent with the message that you want to project. Answering the following questions can help ensure brand cohesion:

  • What is the tone of your brand? Use one or two words to describe your business, like “luxury,” “casual,” “hip” or “approachable.”
  • What words or phrases describe the look and feel that you want present in the new site?
  • What websites offer the look and type of customer experience that you seek for your own site? What do you like about these sites?
  • Do you have a branding style guide or specific colors and typography that you use in your marketing materials?  If you are unhappy with your logo and visual identity, it will be far more cost effective to address it before you redesign your website.

4. Review Technology

By identifying the current technologies that your company possesses, you will give the website redesign company that you choose a better picture of your needs.

  • Are you going to use the same domain name or a new one? If you want to use a new one, is the domain name available?
  • Where is your current domain name registered? Who has access to this account?
  • Where is your current website hosted?  Are you happy with this service?
  • Does your email address match your domain name? Are you satisfied with your current email provider?
  • What is your CRM platform?  Will it integrate with your website?
  • Do you have any third-party tools you will integrate with, such as inventory management, web analytics, or some other kind of database?

5. Create Conversion Goals

It’s not enough to implement a website redesign because you think the site could look better. Create goals that are in line with your company’s marketing objectives so your project has a focus, and make sure to benchmark your current site so you can see the change and have a baseline to improve. RELATED CLASS: 5 Fundamental Web Analytics Truths for a Data-Driven World

Identify your goals for:

  • Primary conversion: This is typically new leads, product sales or free trial sign-ups.  You want to measure the number of conversions a month, as well as the percentage of visitors who convert (your conversion rate).
  • Secondary conversion: This is typically something like resource downloads or email signups.
  • Search engine optimization: How much new traffic do you want from search engines each month?

A successful web design takes thoughtful planning, as well as a good understanding of what your company offers and your customers’ needs. Taking shortcuts before the redesign process even begins can lead to project delays, budget overages and decreased leads. Avoid these pitfalls by truly knowing what you seek in a redesign before partnering with a web designer.

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