By Ric Starost
The Internet has revolutionized the way businesses reach people many times over, and this means, for better or for worse, that constant maintenance on your website is necessary to stay relevant.
If a site is just a few years (or sometimes months) out of date, it can very likely be turning away potential customers or leads. Here are three reasons why a web redesign is worth the investment.
1. Your company will be judged by its web presence.
Your website is your company’s face, personality, ID card and main point of contact. You cannot afford to let it become outdated. The consumer will go elsewhere. To take it a step further today’s websites should be personalized, dynamic and are meant to interact with the user rather than just throw data at them.
2. Your website is being viewed on multiple devices.
More than 1.2 billion people across the world access the Internet via their mobile devices, with 90% moving between devices to accomplish a goal, according to Google.
3. Your website users are evolving.
With the boom of social and mobile, what consumers expect from a website has increased exponentially. Your site has to load fast, respond immediately, adjust to technology and serve up the right content in the right order.
What’s the best way to approach a redesign?
1. Research and follow online trends.
The web is loaded with statistics so be careful when doing a general search on web trends.
2. Audit your competitor’s websites.
Know what you are up against. Start simply by going through their site page by page, identifying pros and cons. This can be useful when compared to research done on your own site. Sites like Compete.com and Alexa.com give some statistical insight into company’s and can help you see where you stand in the scheme of things.
3. Understand how your customers interact with your current site.
Strategically compile, A/B test and cross reference your analytics data with other useful tools such as heat maps (Crazyegg.com or Clicktale.com). The more data the better. By cross examining multiple data points you can more accurately predict the expectations of your customer and adjust your site accordingly. For example, if you notice that a certain page has a high bounce rate you can cross reference that with a heat map to show if users were concentrating on a page element that was never intended to be the focal point. This causes confusion, frustration and ultimately a bounce from the page. By looking into multiple variables and cross-referencing multiple data analysis tools patterns begin to merge which will help shape website design, architecture and functionality.
Once you have extensively gathered data, use that as the guiding principle of your website redesign. You will likely discover “quick wins” (minor changes that equal big impacts), blatant pain points (areas where consumers struggle the most), and additional needs which can include but are not limited to functionality, programming, technology, content and aesthetics. Some basic steps to follow in the planning process are:
- Create a list of changes needed and why
- Map out your sites architecture using Visio or other drawing program.
- Create wireframes depicting what content is necessary per page and how should it be placed
- Plan for a responsive design. That is make sure it is mobile friendly and responsive designs are what users are becoming accustom to. If you do not have a lot of mobile visitors now, you will. Planning a responsive site at the beginning will save a lot of time and money in doing it later.
- Be sure to have plan for what it is your will measure that equals success. Wrong data can be worse than no data at all. Be detailed on your data requirements
- Create a project plan, determine milestones and always refer to your research for guidance.
- Start the build.
Whether you launch in phases or all at once, it is critical to analyze the site’s performance as you go. Using your measurement requirements, start filling in data and continue to monitor trends. Adjustments are inevitable, so don’t freak out if you are not immediately seeing your anticipated results. You need at least 60 days of data for good analysis. And remember, the cycle of web design is an ongoing: analysis, update, repeat.