In the past two years, we redesigned two websites. Both projects took us down a long road of unexpected mishaps and setbacks, but at the end of the day we learned invaluable lessons we can apply to every other website redesign in the future. Today, I want to share some of that wisdom with you. So, here are our four takeaways to remember for your next website redesign.
#1: Make the editing experience beautiful
No one’s going to see your website backend except your
internal team, so who cares what it looks like, right? Wrong.
Before we redesigned our website, our marketing team had a
very difficult time making on-demand updates or changes. If we wanted to create
a new landing page or event—forget about it! We always found ourselves dragging
someone from the development team into a meeting to help us execute what we
needed to do. This was inefficient and frustrating for both parties.
When we redesigned our new website, our developers worked
side-by-side with the marketing team to brainstorm every creative and unique
way we’d want to use different modules on the website. From there, the dev team
transformed the ugly, confusing default that was our backend into a visually
appealing, easy to navigate experience, complete with descriptions and cute
little images to help direct our efforts.
How did we go about it?
The website is built on Drupal. Our developers referenced
Drupal forums and articles to inform the larger changes to backend
functionality we were asking for. They then tested those changes on a cloned
version of the site so that if something broke, they could fix it separately
instead of risking a negative impact on the true development website. If the
test was successful, the changes were installed in the development site for
publishing once the site went live. If not, further edits and tests were
conducted to find suitable workarounds.
Was it a lot of legwork upfront? Definitely, but was it
worth it? Absolutely.
As the website manager, I can easily move around elements on a page, build completely new pages, and create unique web experiences without having to bug our development team. I have the flexibility I need to create all the various types of content to suit my events, blogs, landing pages, services content, and more.
#2: Apply the latest SEO by staying current
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is changing all the time. However,
an experienced web design team is usually confident about the basics. With our
project, past experience taught us what works for page ranking, best practices
around meta tags and alternative text, and the importance of setting up page
redirects and 404 pages. However, we quickly found out that we shouldn’t get
Because our developers followed content feeds around SEO best practices, they were able to uncover new SEO and page loading tactics we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. The website we were designing had thousands of page variations, making these elements extremely important. The more we learned, the better we were able to adapt the site and streamline its capabilities. Some of the article feeds our development team follows include:
#3: Write and arrange content with conversion copywriting strategies
the technical aspects of a website are crucial, the content itself plays just
as significant a role. The content explains to your website visitors what you
can do for them (aka benefits) and why they should choose your product or
service for their needs. It’s a huge piece of the MQL puzzle in a website
why the concept of conversion copywriting should always live in the minds of
your marketing team. For every page you prepare to fill with content, you
should be asking how the copywriting will speak to your target audience. Here
are a few conversion copywriting tactics and notes that we found helpful as we
redesigned the website:
- Although we may like to believe logic drives consumer behaviors, the reality is that emotion plays a much bigger role. Every word has an emotional impact, so be thoughtful about the words you choose. How does the word “community” make you feel? What about the word “neighbors”? The key is to sell with the emotion and justify with the logic.
- Re-read your content to make sure you’re selling the benefits over the features. For example, if you were selling a smoke alarm you might say it acts as the nose of your home, sniffing out potential dangers. By doing that, you are selling the smoke alarm as a concept instead of simply pointing out that its main feature is detecting fire.
- Anticipate your prospect’s questions and answer them in the Web copy or via an FAQs section on the page. This helps convert visitors by removing as many initial objections as possible before they even contact your business.
- Highlight a brand statement on your homepage to clarify who you are and how you can help immediately.
- Be sure to leverage the footer menu. If you have many content pages and menu items feeding from your main menu, it may be a good idea to create a skimmed down variation for your footer so people can easily find common pages like customer care, privacy policies, and shipping FAQs.
#4: Don’t forget about the little things
Coming up with the color scheme for our new website was fun, but it also posed some challenges. For example, after picking our complimentary colors and starting our design, we realized the color we chose for links was hard to read on the page. We needed to adjust that color, but also make the choice as it related to the rest of the branding we were trying to accomplish.
Speaking of something being hard to read, that was another
question mark we tackled during our website project. Have you ever gone to a
website and thought the font was way too small, way too light in color, or way
too tightly spaced? We all have.
This was an issue we wanted to avoid with the redesign. So, we came at it from two directions. First, we looked at our current website and discussed where we thought font could be improved. Then, we tested out different font sizes, styles, and color variations on the new website and viewed them on both desktop and mobile to make sure they rendered well everywhere. We tied all that in with Web font best practices gathered from our research to make our final decisions.
Undertaking a website redesign can be nerve-wracking,
surprising, and extremely time-consuming. However, doing it effectively pays
off big time for your business. There’s a lot to consider as you update your
website, from deciding which content you want to keep or retire, to homing-in
on the bigger messaging and content needs your changing customer base craves. I
hope these quick insights into our own redesign process give you some things to
think about as you begin your next project. At the end of the day, it’s
actually pretty fun to redesign a website, so enjoy the process, and watch your
idea become a magnificent reality!