When potential customers land on your website, first impressions take precedent. In just a few minutes, your viewers judge your brand and product by how two important criteria: website design and functionality. We’ve developed a 5-step checklist to redesign your website in 2017.
You’ve heard the old adage “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Well, that’s exactly what your viewers are doing. But what goes on behind the scenes is just as important. This list encourages you to not only analyze your layout, but dig into how accessible your website really is. We’ve included some tips into trends you can use to ring in the new year.
Step 1: Review Existing Site
You’re probably here because you’re unhappy in some way with your current site. But before you start a website redesign, take a look at your website metrics to get an idea of what really needs fine-tuning. Where should you begin?
Search Engine Optimization
Including the right keywords in your content helps SEO robots to understand what your site is about. Potential customers are then able to find you more easily by searching for those words.
There are several free tools to help you analyze your SEO performance – Keyword Tool being one. The caveat with freebies is that they will only show you a shortlist of keywords before asking you to upgrade.
Ultimately, the idea is that you want your content to be seen. Coming up with more specific “long-tailed” keywords — those that aren’t searched as much — can help with searchability. Having a specific niche helps to win over competitors.
You don’t want to invest a bunch of money in a new website that no one will see. The “right” amount of traffic depends heavily on your industry and audience.
It may be better to focus on the percentage of traffic received from various sources. Hubspot’s latest research study shows the proportion of total visits and average visits from each traffic source, from January 2014 through May 2015.
Depending on the industry, organic traffic can account for up to 64% of how people land on your site. Once you understand your weak spots, you can concentrate your marketing (i.e., SEO, Social Media, landing pages, etc.) with pinpoint accuracy.
Step 2: Analyze Competitors
We are not advocating that you obsess (or worse – copy) your competitors. You do, however, want to understand your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to them.
First determine who your biggest “threats” are. Determine what they are doing that has made them successful (or not)? Use their gaps to create fresh ideas of your own to create barriers so competitors cannot easily enter your market.
Don’t have time to do this manually? Try some gadgets to help you spy on your “friends”:
- Google Alerts – receive alerts when competitors are mentioned online.
- Topsy – all about Tweets stats competitors have used and how well they performed.
- Marketing Grader – all-in-one tool to rank competitors according to blog posts, social media shares, and SEO rankings.
Step 3: Map Out a Functional Design
Many websites are a decade old (or more) and simply not usable. Everything on your website, from navigation to product page, needs to have a purpose. Simply viewing your site is not a purpose. Identify your objectives, and then determine how to best meet them. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Navigation should be consistent across all pages. It should never take a user more than 2-3 clicks to complete an action. Too many tabs can overwhelm your visitors and quickly cause them to leave your site. Instead of ten tabs, break it down to three or four. Keep it simple and focus on what buyers actually need to solve their challenges.
Check out this example – Awwwards nominated the Icon website with best navigation because “all three brands are accessible from one place with the gnarliest photos and videos you’ve ever seen.” Make simple navigation as a clear goal for your next website redesign in 2017.
It’s one of the many overused images across websites. If you want to create a fresh looking site, avoid redundant stock images! Not a professional designer? That’s ok. The rule of thumb is to find images that are both unique and relevant.
Some ideas to create attention-grabbing images:
- Full-screen background photos – provides a high-impact impression
- Layering – creates depth, inspires a story
- Real Photography – connects readers to your brand
- Illustrations – add a bit of fun appeal
- Pixlr Online Editor – learn to create your own images for free
Here is another award-winning website. They layering technique is used with real behind-the-scenes images through photographs and illustrations. This display connects reader to brand more closely.
In 2017, it’s predicted that 74% of all internet traffic will be video (Syndacast). Your website viewers are more likely to buy or engage with your product if you offer video content. Consider brainstorming some topics and writing out some video scripts. Hire a professional videographer to produce a high-quality video if you’re not equipped to do this yourself. The engagement alone can bring a surge in website traffic and conversions.
4. Identify Gaps in Content
Websites are not just there to look pretty. A truly great website engages audiences from various angles – blogs, infographics, landing pages, case studies, customer testimonials, and more.
Start by understanding what content you have and what you need to create. Content should be dependent on buyer personas, or various target audiences. For example, if your industry is insurance, you might create an infographic such as “5 Reasons You Need Better Car Coverage” that you can share on your blog or a landing page.
Align your content to buyer sales stages as well. For new customers, offer educational material that will make them aware of how you can solve their challenges (i.e., infographics, industry blog, etc.). For those in the middle of your sales funnel, highlight more product related material (i.e,. case studies, testimonials, etc). Keep current customers engaged with new product releases, discounts, and newsletters.
It’s important to have an idea of what kind of content you’ll want to host on your site before starting a website redesign.
5. Establish Timeline and Budget
Investing in your website will be one of the most essential contributors to the success of your business. Especially as the majority of people now use websites to make ultimate purchasing decisions. Establish a realistic timeline to keep everyone on track, and focus your efforts on meeting goals that will bring together all the pieces of your redesign in a timely manner.
Budgeting will depend on several factors depending on your needs:
- Time – how much time do you have to create it?
- Technical Skills – how much back-end knowledge do you have?
- Design Ability – do you need help creating the a quality layout? Content?
One option is to use a template design to build your website. While this approach may seem inexpensive at first glance, you must be prepared to invest many long and frustrating hours of your valuable time learning how to actually control the program to create your vision and, even if you are successful, you’ll still have to spend more countless hours creating and designing your theme, colors, branding, user-interface, contact forms, menus, and calls-to-action (and that’s just the beginning).
It’s always a better solution to hire a professional agency to do the heavy lifting, whenever possible. After all, this is what they do all day long. Taking this path with an experienced professional guarantees a much smoother road to success, with far less stress — and lets you concentrate your energy on your business.
An outstanding website requires some serious planning and strategy. How your website looks is one piece of a complex puzzle. A smart business owner knows that the usability and content within that website are just as important as the products you offer. By using this 5-step checklist to redesign your website in 2017, you will be in a better position to meet your competition and increase revenue.