Redesigning a website is among the more important tasks undertaken in marketing. Due to its complexity and the crucial role it plays within the digital ecosystem, it’s also a project that can’t be taken lightly. This is a long-term, structural undertaking that all company departments will be involved in.
If you’re unsure whether a site revamp is right for you, I recommend reading Alexandre Gardé’s article on CRO (conversion rate optimization), which will really clarify the issue. On the other hand, if you believe a revamp is what you need, I suggest consulting our detailed redesign guide by Nicolas Duval and Johan Bravo, or this text from Marion Peres.
Let’s say that you need to rebuild your website because some technology that has become outdated. Many would start planning the redesign by considering when would be the best time to rebuild the site. However, the question you should really be asking is “When is the right time to launch our new website?”
Why? Because the issues related to revamping a site are major. You can minimize the risks by launching your new platform at a time when you’ll have less traffic and the potential impact on your revenue will be lower. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, it’s highly likely that the holiday period is very busy, which would mean significantly increasing the risk level associated with a site relaunch during this period. On the other hand, going live at the right time will allow you to get a handle on how your new site works during a quiet period, and will especially allow you to get through this important step calmly, without short-circuiting your operations.
Now that you know when you want to launch your site, it’s time to move on to the most crucial phase of the project: planning.
Planning isn’t just a formality. It ensures you have a good understanding of the digital ecosystem, that you’re constructing a clear vision and schedule, and therefore that the new platform will enjoy a smooth roll-out, sound governance and proper alignment with the company’s business goals.
In theory, the first stage of planning is the easiest, but in reality the experience can be completely different: You need to define your business objectives and the resulting digital objectives. Beyond simply its design, what do you intend to achieve with this new website, what needs would you like to fulfill, and above all what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to evaluate the new site’s performance?
These considerations will inevitably raise questions about your other digital projects, such as your media investments, which often represent a large portion of expenditures and are directly related to your website’s performance level. You must therefore not just define your site’s KPIs, but also plan the advertising investments related to this structural project.
The planning phase should in no sense be rushed. Like an architectural drawing, the strategic plan will be your guiding principle, the document you will refer to throughout the entire project. It therefore needs to be complete, consistent and accepted by all team members.
Now that the planning stage is over, you’ll be moving on to subsequent phases. While design, choosing a provider and building the site will obviously bring their share of challenges, if the planning phase was completed with the level of care and attention it deserves, solutions to ensure the smooth roll-out of your project will quickly be found.
But once you arrive at the quality assurance phase, things get complicated. Let’s return to our architectural metaphor. You’ve got the plans, the foundations have been poured, the walls put up, the kitchen looks amazing and the floors have just been laid. In short, from the outside it seems like your new residence is ready to welcome you. However, like any good homeowner, you do a final walkthrough of the building to make sure there are no wires left hanging, the water heater works, the lights turn on and off, etc. In other words, you make sure everything is safe, satisfactory and functional before moving in.
This is exactly what quality assurance is. But unlike your home, a whole series of checks need to be performed to ensure you correct as many bugs as possible before launching your site. Obviously it will be impossible to catch them all, but you should understand that the more you test, the more you reduce the chance of losing conversions.
It’s important to remember that this revamp represents a major change for the consumer. They will have lost all their former points of reference, which will result in an annoying digital experience. It’s always depressing to see new websites launched with a lot of fanfare when there are still many technical issues to be worked out. This can not only be the source of a major loss of media investment, but also make acquiring customers and creating loyalty even more difficult.
Pushing back the debut of your website by one or two weeks could save you major investments and also avoid ticking off your customers. In addition to avoiding a short-term loss in sales, this delay will significantly increase the likelihood of visitors returning to your platform in the medium and long term.
Being patient has its advantages.
So here we are. Everything’s finished—the only thing left is to get your new baby in front of as many eyes as possible. Before planning your media strategy, you need to analyze the elements that could reduce the productivity of your platform.
In addition to responding to a business problem (new targets, revitalizing the brand, new products, etc.), you must overcome your site’s reduction in organic traffic. You should understand that although you’ve done everything to avoid such a loss, there is always a reduction during a redesign. Your Google Quality Score will also be lowered, which carries the collateral effect of increasing your media campaigns’ cost per click.
These two elements can therefore affect your campaigns’ performance levels and even, for e-commerce sites and lead generation, increase your customer acquisition cost. Despite the fact that these two effects are often temporary, it’s still prudent to plan your advertising investments in such a way as to make your new site profit-producing as quickly as possible.
Several other factors, such as the complexity of product flow, possible data loss or even poor data collection, must be taken into consideration during your media planning. Each of these elements can have an impact on the success of your campaigns.
As previously mentioned, the more thorough your strategic planning is, the more effective your site launch campaign will be. In order to minimize the risk of financial losses, quality assurance needs to be as thorough as possible.
What do Amazon, Spotify, Airbnb and Lululemon have in common? Other than really healthy sales numbers, these four companies have become leaders in user experience, and the reason for this is simple: They continually test and optimize their platforms.
The same principle applies to your business. The more regularly you optimize your website, the more you’ll improve your user experience and reduce any annoyances for the consumer.
Effort invested in attracting qualified audiences through a conversion rate optimization (CRO) program will also result in promoting growth in the numbers of sales and leads, lowering acquisition costs, increasing user conversion rates and, ultimately, generating more value for your company.
Redesigning a website is a complex project that requires time and planning. It’s not only about how the new site looks and feels, but is in fact a crucial project that will have repercussions on your targets, tools, processes and internal teams, as well as on your entire digital ecosystem. It will necessitate the involvement of all of your departments, turning the project into an event that rallies everyone together and responds to everyone’s needs.
You therefore need to take your time, not rush through anything and respect every stage of the project to the letter. It starts with identifying the reasons that led you towards a redesign, by defining your business objectives and the resulting digital targets, as well as choosing the most appropriate time for the launch in order to increase your chance of success.
Finally, make sure you establish a regular schedule for analyzing the performance of your site and your media campaigns so you can regularly optimize your platform. This will let you avoid any unpleasant surprises, but above all it will save you from having to undertake a new redesign every 3 or 4 years.
Planning your media approach during a website redesign can be basically explained in three words: planning, patience and optimization.