A new website is a big investment — here’s some homework to do to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
By Katie Bridges
There’s a lot — and we mean a lot — to consider before diving into a redesign of your website. But don’t let that intimidate you — an efficient website that’s easy to navigate and primed for conversions is crucial to your digital marketing efforts. If you’ve been thinking that it might be time to retool your site, ask yourself these questions before digging in.
1. What is the state of our branding?
Your website is an extension of your brand. But before you invest in a new site, is it time to consider an evolution of your brand? And make sure you consider all aspects of your branding. Does your logo have equity, or is it time for a refresh? Has the competitor landscape changed since your branding was last evaluated? Do you want to use this opportunity to tweak or expand your brand guidelines? You’ll want to have a clear picture of the health of your branding before embarking on your site redesign.
2. Does the current site encourage users to take the actions we want?
Your organization has likely evolved since your website was created. Are current visitors to your site able to easily convert from “prospect” to “customer/client,” or are outdated calls-to-action complicating the process? Evaluate your main call-to-action priorities and keep these top of mind as you begin the redesign discovery process.
3. How would we rate the current website experience for users?
You and your team are used to navigating the ins and outs of your site — but what’s the experience like for users? Take a step back and imagine what it’s like when a new visitor lands on your site. Think through the various types of users — how easy is it for them to navigate to the information they need? Is it clumsy or confusing? Do you risk losing users along the way?
4. Are there specific pain points in the current site experience that we need to overcome?
As you start thinking through the “musts” for the new site, prioritize the issues that have been stumbling blocks in the past. Is there an issue that results in numerous customer service calls? A plug-in holdover that’s slowing things down? A convoluted pathway that’s confusing even to your internal team? Put these at the top of your list.
5. Is the site structured in a way that feels intuitive and easy to navigate?
A redesign is more than just an opportunity to punch up the site’s design — it’s an opportunity to completely redefine the site’s functionality and user experience, which all comes back to the site structure. Thinking through user stories, i.e., the journeys your various audiences take on your site, will ensure that you’ve considered the site’s bigger picture.
6. What information or features are missing from the website that would make the user experience better?
Instead of looking backward, it’s time to look toward the future: What’s been on your website wish list for a while? What sort of functionality have you spied elsewhere that you’ve had your eye on? Have you heard any “I wish” statements from your organization’s internal team or stakeholders?
7. What websites do we admire in terms of functionality or design?
Piggybacking on No. 6: What are those websites you hold up as the gold standard? Keep in mind that your inspiration doesn’t have to come from a competitor — or even from within your industry!
8. Is the content that’s currently on the site an accurate reflection of our organization and its offerings?
Here’s the thing: Your site is only as good as the content that’s on it. While you’re making the effort to refine your branding and rethink your site’s user experience, functionality and structure, take some time to analyze your site’s content. What needs to be updated? What’s no longer relevant? What needs to be added?
9. How will we evaluate the success of the site?
This may seem like an afterthought, but really, it’s something that needs to be considered from the get-go. Think of your goals, and then determine how you’ll objectively judge if you’ve been able to reach them. What performance metrics will you be measuring — page views or form conversions, for instance? How often will you be reviewing the data? At the end of the day, you need to be able to ensure that this project offers a return on your investment — and you also need a guidepost by which to judge what tweaks need to be made down the road.
10. Do we have the resources needed to support our desired outcome?
Content creation, regular updates, site maintenance, reviewing analytics, swapping out images — all of these tasks can be very time consuming and often fall to staff members who wear unrelated hats. What’s realistic for your teammates? What can be managed externally? Weighing your resources and having a plan in place will ensure that your dream site is attainable — and sustainable.