|12 Website Redesign Tips for 2012
|Thursday, April 19, 2012
12 Website Redesign Tips for 2012We have provide various redesign tips in the past, but we thought now would be a great time to remind site owners, webmasters and SEOs of some key tips to leverage when planning or working through a website redesign.
- Establish a redesign timeline - this is critical. I have seen a number of businesses who try to rush their redesigns. That is the worst thing that you can do. You need to be methodical in your website redesign as there are simply too many things to risk. From usability issues to SEO, to legacy content, you need to develop a timeline to incorporate the planning, transition, launch and post launch phases of your site redesign. Failure to do so can mean a lot of additional work post launch.
- Identify the goals of your website redesign - are you simply looking to improve the look an feel? Are you looking to drive more traffic to your site? Or is the goal to improve the conversion options that users are presented with so that you can drive more conversions? Is it all of the above? You should identify clear goals for your redesign. These goals should be top of mind for all involved in the redesign project. From the design team to IT, to your digital and SEO teams, the goals should be clear and concise.
Take Inventory of your existing URLs - this is so important and yet I have seen a number of site owners who still don't do this. Taking inventory of your site pages is important. At a bare minimum this is important for three reasons:
- to ensure that all URLs are accounted for; so you know what you are up against at a page level
- to determine which content will be carried through as part of the redesign, which content will be redirected and which content may be decommissioned (if any).
- to ensure that key pieces of content are not missed from an optimization perspective.
- Understand which areas of your website are currently driving traffic and leads - perform an extensive review of your analytics to identify what your top traffic and converting pages are. Ideally the pages that are performing well should be left alone so that you do not jeopardize the good standing that they have with users and the search engines. Sometimes the smallest tweak can have a negative impact on page performance. Be sure that you understand which pages are your top performers. Do not mess with these pages if possible.
- Think of technical improvements that can be made - if you are going to go through with a website redesign you should take the time to do it properly. Consider all of t he technical areas that can be improved with the redesign? Are you able to leverage improved coding coding standards such as HTML 5 and microdata? Can your pages be redesigned so that they load faster and have cleaner coding practices overall? If part of the reason for your redesign is to generate more traffic, then you need to consider making the site compliant with Google and other search engine guidelines.
- Take inventory of current rankings - prior to launching your new site, you should have a general idea of where your existing site is placing within the search results, especially in Google as this is where a large portion of your traffic may be coming from. This is especially important for non-branded phrases so you can focus on content that is currently performing well in search. You will want to preserve this content as best as possible.
- Content is your life blood - as part of a site redesign, you have the opportunity to ensure that your site does not feature any thin or low quality content. You can combine pages or in extreme cases remove content that is of no value to users and/or the search engines. A site redesign gives you the chance to serve up top quality content that is potentially fresh and increasingly beneficial to your audience and the search engines. Ensure that you content is well optimized (but not over optimized). Ensure that you are focusing on content themes and interlinking relevant pieces of content. Most importantly ensure that your content is highly engaging and useful for the user. You should be able to make vast improvements with a well-planned and well executed website redesign.
- Don't forget about Social - as part of your redesign in 2012, you want to make sure that your site is well optimized for social. This may be as simply as adding or updating the social sharing buttons on your pages making it easier for users to share and promote. Promotion of your content is nearly as important as the content creation itself. Build your website for social acceptance.
- Keep it simple - do not try to over-complicate your website redesign. Some of the largest site redesigns that have transpired have been simple in nature. In some extreme cases a drastic change may be required, but all in all keep it simple and follow your redesign plan. You might want to get a second opinion of what your designer is telling you.
- Plan for Scalability - if you think about it, if you design your site well and are able to continually populate rich and fresh content you should not ever need another website redesign. If you plan your redesign with a long term vision, you can develop a technically sound and user friendly website for years to come.
- Make your site mobile friendly - with the ever increasing use of mobile devices and tablets to find information, your site needs to be mobile ready and mobile friendly. This does not have to be an overly complicated project. Simply ensure that your most important content is mobile friendly whether you create a mobile site or not, ensure that your flagship site can deliver to mobile users as well.
Do not rush your site redesign - timing is important with site redesigns. We discussed establishing a timeline for your redesign earlier, but here are some other issues to consider:
- if your deadline for launch is approaching and you have not addressed the majority of usability and SEO issues, DO NOT launch. Move your launch date. Attention to detail is important here. Failure to implement all of the main recommendations/updated can create a lot (and I mean a lot of additional work) post launch.
- time your redesign for your off season. If you are an ecommerce site reliant on holiday traffic, do not launch a new site in the last quarter (yes I have seen sites do this....).
- allow timing for technical and SEO test to be completed
- if you have to push back be sure to push back - delaying a site redesign is rarely a bad thing
There you go. If you are planning a redesign in 2012, the above website redesign tips should help ensure that you enjoy a successful launch and more importantly successful post launch.
|posted by Jody @ Thursday, April 19, 2012