13 Point Checklist for the Perfect Website Redesign

Website redesign

I rarely encounter a business that simply doesn’t yet have a website. Regardless of the bizarre reports that still contend 50% of all small business owners don’t have a website. (See Inc)

Now, what I do encounter most of the time is a small business that needs a total site makeover or redesign. It’s not that they were just awful in the first place, (well, some were) it’s that every site, just like every business, needs to evolve. That means if your current site design is around two years old it needs some attention.

But, before you rush out and give a designer the keys to your site, take steps to ensure you don’t unknowingly undue all the good you’ve accomplished with your previous site.

Eager designers don’t mean harm when they create a new design, they just need more information, and that’s where you come in. Before you even visit a WordPress theme designer arm yourself with some information that can help them make good decisions about what stays and what goes in your current configuration or take the risk of losing all that hard earned search traffic.

Now, I’m not suggesting you simply hang on to SEO gains over things like better navigation, visitor usability, and conversion, but don’t throw everything out just for something that looks more modern.

Use this checklist as you embark on a site redesign as a way to capture all existing elements and consider content needs, edits and issues before the project starts.

  1. Do you have access to Google Analytics? – I know, weird question, but you might be surprised how many sites have analytics installed the owners have no idea how to access the data.
  2. Do you have access to Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) – I frequently find site owners who have never bothered to connect their sites here and use this invaluable resource
  3. Have you evaluated domain suitability and value and checked expiration? – Carefully and I mean carefully consider if your current domain is even right for your business. Certainly this is a good time to check and make sure your desired domain isn’t set to expire anytime soon. (Quick check WhoIS)
  4. Have you cataloged all pages and current issues? – Use Screaming Frog to create a spreadsheet of all of your pages and any currently broken links or crawl errors.
  5. Have you added Google Analytics data for pageviews, bounce rate and time on page to a spreadsheet to help make assessment on content to keep? By adding this kind of data to your spreadsheet you might learn about some pages that are receiving a surprising amount of traffic or links.
  6. Have you ranked your spreadsheet content? A= keep no edit, B=keep edits needed, C= drastic rewrite or dump? This step involves your overall business and marketing strategy so you’ll need to consider how you want to position your business and your editorial calendar moving forward to make some of this decisions.
  7. Have you audited any lead capture/landing pages/forms? If you’re capturing email addresses for a newsletter, ebook or webinar series you’ll want to make sure you take note of these for the redesign. It’s easy to lose track of landing pages because they are often buried away from the main navigation.
  8. Have you audited SEO for ranking pages? Screaming Frog can give you information about pages that already rank for desired terms. If these terms are still relevant, you’ll want to think long and hard about how to keeps these pages intact.
  9. Have you audited permalink structure? A site redesign might be the time to analyze whether you want those ugly numbered URLs for your blog posts or the default date added. Most sites today are moving to keyword-rich URLs for all content (Don’t worry, I’m headed there in a month or two myself.)
  10. Have you analyzed current backlinks? Use a tool like ahrefs to see if any sites are sending significant traffic to pages. You’ll want to use some of this information to make determinations about leaving pages as is or even permanently redirecting the pages to eliminate creating too many broken links. (You might also consider some links that need pruning too.)
  11. Have you designed a 301 permanent redirect strategy if needed? If you’re making any dramatic URL changes, you’ll want to tell the search engines that your blog posts still exist they’re just at a new address. Make sure you work this through and test it thoroughly before you launch. The Yoast SEO Plugin can help with 301s
  12. Have you evaluated current plugins for use? A redesign is a great time to reconsider your current plugin use. Plugins are a big resource drag and a security hole – less is better.
  13. Have you evaluated needed integrations (CRM, ESP, Shopping cart, etc.) Finally, if you currently have some integration with other 3rd party tools or client portals, you’ll want to note the need for these and make sure you can share this information with your designer.

The steps above may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you a ton of work, worry, and headache in the end. In fact, if you start working with a designer and they don’t ask you for this information up front, you should be concerned.

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Site Navigation

Your website is one of the most important aspects of your business. If done correctly, it’s the first thing people see about your brand or product. Unless you’re such a well-known brand that people don’t have to search online to find out about, then you should make sure your website is not only a sales tool but a resource for your potential customers.

Fill your website up with good content, about your product, about your company, about your process, about how to use your product or service effectively. Then, make it easy to find.

When you consider your website, take a look at your navigation. A bad navigation could ruin the fact that you have tons of great content on your site by making it too much work for your website visitors to find. When creating a good navigation, there are several things you can consider:

1) Who is looking at this page?

The audience for your website and specific pages is perhaps the most important thing to look at when considering your navigation. Put yourself in their shoes. What would they be looking for? What information do they need served to them via a sidebar or header navigation?

Additional supporting information should be easily accessed. In this case, someone might want more related videos or they might want to go ahead and sign up for a Discovery Call.

Additional supporting information should be easily accessed. In this case, someone might want more related videos or they might want to go ahead and attend an upcoming training.

2) Is there related information that should be easily accessed from this page?

When someone visits this page and consumes the information, what other information do they need to supplement this information? Are there questions they might have to follow up on the information they’ve just consumed?

3) Is your content clearly labeled?

This one should be a no-brainer! However, it’s not. Ensure that you aren’t using industry slang unless your content is focused only on people in your industry. Make sure that when someone clicks on a label, the content that you then serve to visitors is what they expect to see associated with that label, and vice versa. Ensure that the content you have is labeled in an easy-to-search-for-and-find-way.

4) What are the key elements you want customers to see when visiting your site?

When people get to your site, what is it that you want them to find?
There should be a clear main point for your website and business. If you have other lines of business or supporting points, make them prominent as well. What options is it that you want people to have as soon as they get to your site?

5) Is your contact information easily accessible?

There’s a good chance that when someone visits your site, they will need to access your contact information. They might need to shoot you an email, call or even know your location and hours. Make this information clear. Don’t make your website visitors search for this information.

Add a sign-up to your newsletter in the side bar navigation.

Add a sign-up to your newsletter in the sidebar navigation to make the call to action clear, noticeable and easy to find.

6) What call to action is your page looking to incite?

Extremely important, what do you want your site visitors to do when they consume the content on each page? Some pages might want you to watch a video, while some might be more compatible to get visitors to sign up for an email list. A downloadable eBook might be the goal of your information. Whatever your call to action is, the navigation is a great place for it.

Your navigation might just be something that you install as a necessity, but if you put a little bit of thought and strategy around it, you’ll find it can be one of your greatest online assets.

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about marketing, coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

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