Interestingly enough, many web development companies don’t differentiate website redesign from building a new website from scratch.
Well, it is different, and for many business owners and managers, it’s one of the biggest decision they’ll make in years.
- Should I revamp my website completely since I know it is a bit dated?
- What if I lose my rankings? Or my clients don’t like the new design?
- Maybe I can improve some sections first and finish later?
- How long does it take? What’s the process?
- How much does it cost?
- Which web development company should I ask?
The Right Time to Get a Website Redesign?
Depending on how long you’ve had your website for, it might be the right time to do a redesign.
Generally, these occur every 1 to 3 years. One year being the minimum for users and search engine not to get too confused with changing User Interface and Information Architecture. Three years being the limit for technology to still offer a valuable User Experience.
To know if it’s the right time you need to ask yourself this: “Can my website do everything I need?”
- Can my website offer a good experience on mobile?
- Can it be understood immediately by users?
- Can it get better rankings in its current state?
- Can it be maintained easily?
Be honest with your answers and you’ll know if you need a better solution.
Small changes or Full Website Redesign?
If you ask a professional about whether you should keep your old system and put bandaids or get a new one, chances are you’ll get told: “It will cost you just a little bit more to get a whole new system, and it will last you much longer”.
Sometimes you could get away with a temporary solution but eventually, you’ll need a full redesign.
In fact getting a new system allows you to:
- Clean up everything and start fresh.
- Improve what wasn’t working and keep what works.
- Enjoy the latest technologies.
- Get a system that will last years.
- Sleep better at night knowing that your website is as good as it could get.
The best way to know is to ask a competent web development studio for advice.
Website Redesign Project Plan
Every system has its own rules, but here is the approach we commonly use.
First, list all the limitations of your current website.
You probably have already an idea of what’s wrong with your website but it’s always good to get external opinions as well.
The best way is to ask your clients for feedback since they are the users you care about. Try to offer them sales or perks to get more feedback.
You can also use anonymous opinions from online services like five seconds tests where users have five seconds to look at a design before they answer your questions.
Finally, ask your web development company to tell you what could be improved.
And remember to take every opinion with a grain of salt because ultimately, it’s your website.
Second, keep what works well!
The greatest fear of most website owners is to lose something during a website redesign. And it’s a fair concern. Does the web designer know about that little thing that your users love? Does the project manager know your conversion rate? do they understand your story? So many things to save from the redesign.
While you ask for feedback, make sure you also collect information about what makes your site successful, and what your visitors like particularly.
Visitors feedback + Years of Analytics = good planning
Don’t forget about your Analytics. You probably have them on your current website and there is probably someone within your web team dying to use them (I’m that guy).
If the Analytics expert is professional enough, they’ll extract valuable data from your Google Analytics account. For example what pages are visited the most compared against the time of the year, the traffic source, the device used, the demographic, etc…
They can also tell how your CTAs are doing, how your conversion funnels can be improved, and whether or not a landing page is doing well. If you have more analytics, like let’s say, rankings and social media, it’s even better.
Website Redesign Process
First step, get a kick-ass UX and an awesome Information Architecture!
Once you’re done with the list of what you want to keep and what to get rid off, your web team will start working on two fronts:
Information Architecture: The idea is to design a map of your new website. Ideally, it should not be too different from the old one, just improved. If a popular page use to take three clicks to reach, make it accessible from the nav directly, and maybe even the homepage.
Keep what works, remove what’s useless, and simplify the access to popular items and users will thank you.
UX design: Now is time for your web team to show their web design skills. We personally love UX, and we know how important it is. Years ago, webmasters use to think “do I need to put a button here? No, it’s Ok, the visitor can scroll down to the other one”. This time is over.
Study your competition to see what they do and grab some ideas from them. Then talk to your web designer to see if these are good ideas, and if they are, how to implement them.
Be original, but keep some ground rules. UX is mostly about making sure visitors can navigate and do what they have to do on your website without thinking about it. Once that goal is achieved, a nice design, something stylish or a really great tool will add some personal taste and an overall better experience.
Second step, ask your web developer to design the right technical solution.
Web Developers generally try to balance two aspects of web development. Use a technology they and their clients are comfortable with, and think long term. The first aspect is easy to figure, the second require way more thinking. Here are some challenges to address:
- Make sure the overall solution can last as long as planned in the requirements (technology deprecation)
- Keep it safe and secure for that period
- Ensure the whole solutions can be passed without trouble to another web team
- Plan a scalable solution to grow with the business
- Make sure the site will be easy to maintain and update along the way
Once all of these challenges are addressed, it’s time to code.
Step Three, the development.
When we develop we like to involve our clients so they get the exact picture of how things are going. On the other hand, since our project are well planned and our clients trust us, there’s no need to over share updates. We focus on the goals and communicate every time we get close to a milestone.
When a client has questions, we answer them in a way they can understand, and encourage them to continue the conversation.
All this seems obvious, but so many web development company don’t offer a service like that. So make sure you get a team that cares about your project.
Website redesign: the Launch!
Before you get to celebrate, there is an important task to achieve. Launching the new website.
Tested and approved. You have access to the future website on a development server. Everything looks good. Has it been tested on all devices and browsers? Is the code clean and error-free? Is the new website optimized for Search Engines? Is Google Analytics properly tracking your CTAs and goals?
We’ve developed a complete checklist to help during launching. It covers the Search Engine aspect, the UX and the Google Analytics parts.
Take a look at our website launching checklist and make sure your website is ready to go live.
When your website is good to go, your web team will replace the old one with the new one in a quick and hopefully seamless process. Sometimes it takes a whole day or more to propagate and be ready, but in general, a few hours are enough.
Website Redesign Cost
Even if the difference between a full new website and a website redesign is quite significant, both should take pretty much the same amount of time.
For a website redesign, the risk of failing is even greater since there are many challenges to address, and only one chance to get it right. Your users will probably not forgive you if you replace your website with a less good one. Search Engines can penalize your new website if it doesn’t follow rules.
We recommend that every website redesign is done by a web team you trust.
Now in terms of cost, it’s similar to any investment, ask for a quote and make sure your ROI is worth it. Keep in mind that most web design companies charge between $80 and $150/hour.
In any case, make sure the website is made in-house, not outsourced to a careless company miles away. Even though outsourcing can save you some bucks, it’s not worth the risk.
Don’t lose any of your precious SEO Juice
During a website redesign, many pages are modified, added, or removed, it’s important to tell Search Engines what you’ve done with your content. That way, they can update the search results based on your new architecture.
Make sure your SEO team doesn’t make too many redirections since redirections only redirect 70 to 80% of the SEO juice in average. In short, if you can keep the old URLs, keep them.
You can read more about Website redesign SEO, website redesign from an entrepreneur point of view or Contact us to get a quote.
Good luck with your website redesign!