It’s a New Year. And you’ve made your first resolution. You’re going to redesign your website. Great! Making that decision is the first step...but now what? What should you do to prepare yourself for “the redesign”? Here are some suggestions for making your redesign a successful one.
- Analyze your current site. Take a good look at your existing website and make a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you like the look or do you think it’s dated? Do customers have an easy time using it or do you find yourself fielding too many complaints? Think about what works and what doesn’t so that this time around you can replace the bads and uglies with goods.
- Analyze your competition. You know who your competitors are, so take a look at their websites. Do you think they do something better than you? Something that would be beneficial for your business? Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but you’re not trying to copy the competition, you’re just trying to keep the playing field even. Or maybe even raise the bar. Nothing wrong with that.
- Determine wants vs. needs. If you sell products that change often, then you likely need a Content Management System (CMS). If you currently run offline reports to inventory those products, then you might want to incorporate an online report at some point, but building that functionality can probably take a back seat to higher priority needs. Figure out what must be present right from the start vs. what can come later. You can realize significant cost-efficiencies if you anticipate for future enhancements from day one.
- Think about the user experience. Why do people come to your site? Is it for information? To make a purchase? Both? If you get inquiries by phone, why is it that the answer couldn’t be found on your site? It it makes sense, try to make sure your website is a one-stop shop that lets your customers find what they need. If you consistently get calls about where you are located, or how to calculate shipping, consider adding that information or feature to your website. If the goal is to get the customer to contact you, make sure that information is easily available.
- Look at the metrics. Sure, it’s a lot of numbers and percentages and calculations, but the analytics for your site can really help you understand what people are doing on your site. So if you can see that visitors are spending a nice amount of time on your site but consistently leave without completing a purchase, it’s time to figure out why and think about reworking your checkout process. Or if you get lots of visits but they leave within 30 seconds of landing on your homepage, maybe you have to change the message you’re presenting. Statistical behavior can provide great insight into what is and isn’t working.
- Create a site map. It can be on the computer or the back of a napkin. But documenting your visualization of everything you want on your website can help you see potential glitches. Once you get it laid out, do you realize that you basically have the same information in 3 places? Or only allow a specific action to be performed from one obscure location? Everything on your site should be organized logically and serve a specific purpose.
- Make sure you have what it takes. It’s one thing to decide to allow customers to order your products online. But do you have images and descriptions and details for every product? Do you have a process in place for managing those orders as they come in through the website? Will you process payments online or offline? If you’re not sure, maybe presenting your products online, and then providing a number to call to place an order is your first step. Your web development partner can help you determine what makes sense and how to roll out certain functionality in phases.
- Partner with a web developer you trust. Budget is usually the biggest concern when it comes to picking a web development partner, but there’s also a lot to be said for level of service. Do you want to work with someone who churns out websites daily and just wants to make a sale? Or do you want to work with someone who is just as invested in your website project as you are? If you get a successful website, they get a successful portfolio piece. If you’re happy, they get a good reference. Look at the people who will be building your website, not just the name on the door.
- Be realistic with your budget. You’ve committed to a redesign, but you also have to have reasonable expectations as to what that will cost. True, the cost of a website can vary tremendously from vendor to vendor, so you should get several quotes to see what’s out there. But when it comes right down to it, there’s no such thing as a free (and good) website.
- Be part of the process. This is your website. Trust your web developer to design the pages and write the code, but you are the most valuable resource when it comes to knowing what makes sense for your business. So give your insight and feedback whenever you can. The redesign process can be somewhat dynamic and it’s much easier to make those twists and turns during the ride rather than at the finish line.
If you’re ready to tackle Redesign: 2016, we’d love to help. Just let us know when you’re ready to get started.