A website redesign is a current practice that often appears to be a miraculous solution for increasing performance. While the motivations behind the practice may be diverse, it’s important to understand the process and what it entails. Above and beyond keeping up with changes in technology and graphic trends, your redesign strategy must be planned ahead of time and should aim to rectify negative digital experiences.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
A seamless experience that responds to users’ needs can enhance your business objectives. Don’t forget that your business objectives are intrinsically connected to your users’ objectives, which is why you must be sure to establish a solid KPI framework. In short, if your users are able to accomplish their tasks on your site efficiently, effectively and satisfactorily, this will have a positive impact on your business goals. Perhaps you find that these three words don’t resonate for you. If so, you should reconsider that they are actually the very definition of usability.
Take for example a lead generation site: If accessing and completing the contact form is tedious, visitors will quickly abandon your site and visit your competitors’ sites. The user wasn’t able to accomplish their task, and so the company missed out on a new contact.
But before getting serious and launching into a redesign process that might be long and costly, maybe you should check to see whether it’s really necessary. If not, we can give you a few tips and alternatives. In the second section, we’ll tackle what a website redesign process should look like, in our opinion.
A complete revamp generally means a complete change of your site’s code as well as its presentation—a bit like demolishing a house and constructing an entirely new one. You might keep some materials like the plumbing, the land and the foundation, but everything else is going to be changed.
The advantage of a redesign is being able to rebuild a completely new digital experience based on what you’ve learned, thereby enriching the experience and achieving new business objectives that are in tune with the market and consumers.
We’ve identified 3 common situations that may lead companies to undertake a revamp:
If you’re sitting somewhere in the middle, a redesign is inevitable to kick-start your activity. Any overlap of two situations is also cause for a redesign, but alternatives can be resorted to if you currently lack the time or resources—in this case we’re talking about an optimization. But keep in mind that a redesign will ultimately be necessary.
If you fall into only one of the above categories, here is a list of alternatives that will enable you to improve your site without revamping it. But be careful—this a generalized, non-exhaustive list and you need to consider your particular business context if you plan to apply any of these suggestions.
If you feel that your current site doesn’t generate enough revenue or leads, it’s essential to put a number on these potential losses to build your business case for the redesign.
Benchmarking conversion rates by industry might help you find your bearings initially.
Imagine a clothing e-commerce site that generates around $800,000 (in profit) per year for a conversion rate of 1.4%.
According to growcode.com, the average conversion rate is for this segment is around 1.58%, which is an increase of around 13% compared to our current scenario.
An increase of 13% in our conversion rate (on $800,000) = $104,000
This means in our estimation that a $100,000 redesign could be amortized over 1 year, provided it will enable us to achieve the average conversion rate.
Several other parameters should also be evaluated:
A redesign can be very costly, with prices varying depending on the supplier. There are several criteria that are important considerations, such as the size of the site, technology used, design, innovation, etcetera, since they will have a big effect on the budget you need to set aside.
The key is to allocate your budget by priority.
Are your users in a sector in which visual appearance is important? In that case you should make use of that emotional connection and spend more on design.
Do you have a commercial site? Then invest more in user experience.
Is your strategy based on inbound marketing? Then set aside more money for SEO.
As you can see, budget is about priorities and goals.
It’s important to properly define your strategy before tackling your site redesign. What we recommend is to perform an inventory and fairly deep analysis of your digital ecosystem (including your site, your mobile application if you have one, CRM, chatbot tool, newsletter platform, etc.). This will enable you to identify its existing strengths and weaknesses, but also determine its underlying opportunities and threats.
Start by studying your Analytics data—they’re full of revealing insights. It’s important to go beyond the default reports in the platform—you need to segment and cross-reference your data, and also take context into consideration. This way you can easily identify the site’s current pain points and better understand your users’ journey.
An analysis of your site’s content and branching structure can also give you more context on your offering as well as potential shortfalls considering your current priorities.
Don’t waste time performing a UX analysis of every page of your site—remember that you are going to rebuild it. Instead focus on key pages (which should be determined based on your goals, your content and your data) and functionalities. It’s important to take a step back if you are performing your own site analysis, because although doing your own analysis may not be a problem for you, it could be for 90% of your audience.
Talking about audiences, do you really know who your users are? Your redesign work must align with your personas. Your analysis will allow you to update your personas or uncover new, interesting targets. Don’t forget to listen to your users, since their voice is essential for ensuring your hypotheses are valid. Remember that your personas can be based on existing ones, but also on market opportunities.
Since you’re on a roll, continue your investigations by looking at your customer journeys. They are your best allies for orienting your digital strategy and tactics to reach your audience, but also for responding to your customers’ needs at each key step.
Tips: Integrate a final line into your customer journey by adding objectives and their related KPIs to each step.
With your analysis of the existing site, consumer input and market trends, strategic directions can be defined (if they haven’t already started to emerge during the analysis) and tactics can be dissected. Don’t forget to define your measurement metrics for each tactic.
It’s time to put down on paper exactly what you want. Writing up your specifications isn’t a must, and the content will vary depending on the amount of precision you want.
If you are using a third-party provider, it’s advisable to materialize the site and its functionalities on paper using a spec sheet. In this way you ensure you are precisely describing the requirements to be respected during development. The spec sheet should also echo the digital strategy you’ve already defined.
If we return to our e-commerce sales site example, we wanted to increase our conversion rate of 5%, so one of our strategic pillars will probably be related to the experience of using the site. We therefore decide to integrate a new chatbot tool to enrich customer experience and reach out to visitors who need advice or reassurance. You must therefore stipulate in your specifications sheet that you want this functionality.
Depending on your project, the spec sheet can be fairly dense and complex. We recommend creating 2 categories:
Depending on your project, you can add other categories like design or content requirements, for example.
This document is essential for requesting bid submissions from suppliers that provide estimations of costs and timelines.
Will the designer be able to infuse the site with the sensibility you require? Are the developers comfortable with the technology you’ve asked to be implemented? Will the agency be able to properly manage the project?
These are questions you should ask yourself at this stage of the process. It’s important to take the time to properly choose your external resources for the project. With your call for tenders and specifications sheet in hand, you can be sure to weed out those suppliers that do not correspond to your criteria.
After receiving the submissions, plan to interview your top 3 to learn more about their approach, work methodology, the timeline, budget, and also to ensure there’s good communication between both parties.
The selection criteria are up to you, but don’t just look at the price—take the entire offer into consideration. Sometimes it’s better to set aside a bit more budget than planned to produce something that is truly top of the line. Ask yourself again, What kind of experience do you want to offer your customers?
Congratulations! You’ve chosen a partner!
Now the real work is just getting started, since you’re about to go through a long, crucial step: development.
Depending on the scope, site development can take anywhere from 3 months to 1–2 years. Luckily you should now have access to a web project manager that will help you complete your site redesign.
This person will serve as a bridge between you, the developers, the designers and the marketing specialists in order to keep work within deadlines and satisfy the requirements laid out in your specifications.
Unfortunately, unforeseen issues are common and can upend the smooth roll-out of website delivery. A non-functional API, a delay in integrating visuals, a bug that’s hard to fix, etc. You should also be aware that the more involved you are and the more of a perfectionist you are, the greater the risk of experiencing overruns.
Healthy communication between you and your project manager will allow you to reduce these risks.
Involving an SEO resource is highly recommended to ensure you obtain a website that respects indexing standards and promotes easy discoverability for your future website.
An SEO specialist will also limit the risk of losing traffic that is often associated with complete redesigns.
Before development, the SEO resource can frame these requirements (functional or technical). Depending on the CMS used, they can also recommend extensions. For example, on a WordPress site, I would recommend an SEO extension (like Yoast) and improve compression and the distribution of images.
During development, various questions can be directed to this resource. These questions generally regard requirements, best practices for indexation or keywords/content. During this period the SEO specialist should be working on a redirect plan.
After development, the SEO specialist needs to perform quality assurance with regard to the initial requirements. They will deploy and test the redirects in a testing environment. The objective is to deploy the redirects at the same time the site is launched.
Following the site launch, the specialist will follow up, ensuring that users aren’t landing on error pages and that Google can properly access the new website.
A reduction in organic traffic is generally normal for 3 to 6 months after a redesign. Your site could lose between 20% and 30% of its sessions during this period. A temporary increase in your SEM budget might compensate for these losses.
During the creation phase (wireframe or visual model), take the time to isolate the elements that you want to track in Analytics to obtain a richer range of data. Remember that we recommended integrating KPIs into your customer journeys—this will help you begin the work of creating a tagging plan.
The tagging plan enables you to determine the metrics (supporting your KPIs) that you should integrate into your pages. For example, you should want to know whether the chatbot is used and how it is used. Therefore, you should indicate that you want to track when the chatbot is opened (GA event on click). You can add a multitude of data depending on your objectives and the depth of information you intend to have. As you know, here at Adviso we’re data gluttons, so go crazy!
Consider using Google Tag Manager for tracking, since this will facilitate the integration of new events, objectives and metrics over time.
Once again, this depends on the strategy you intend to put in place, but it’s highly likely that your campaigns will need to be adjusted. It’s advisable to align your marketing objectives to offer a rich, annoyance-free experience. This way, your media strategy and your site redesign will coexist much more easily.
You will probably need to change your targeting, given the new elements in your personas. Or maybe invest in a new audience that’s rich in opportunity.
Coordinating your advertising creative with the site’s design so that your new look can be seen in your ads is indispensable. You should also consider updating your ads’ storytelling for greater consistency (especially if your redesign included your brand’s identity).
Redirects must also be revised based on the site’s new branching structure (also called “arborescence”). It’s likely that crucial elements for paying customers have been moved to other pages.
Take the time to plan your redesign for proper budget allocation and to put emphasis on your business opportunities with a digital strategy that responds to both your own needs and those of your customers. It’s a costly process, but it will ensure that your new site doesn’t become obsolete two years later. Measure your content optimization initiatives for your new site to avoid having to redesign too early.
Thinking of starting a redesign project, but don’t know where to start? Don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts!