By Maia Milas
If your business had a property, its website would be your house. Your home embodies everything you value, build, and obtain; the same goes for your organization’s website.
Picture your business’s hypothetical home. How is it holding up? Does it need some minor repairs here and there or more significant structural updates? Perhaps it’s completely outdated and needs a full-scale remodel. Regardless, your responsibility as a homeowner (and business owner) is maintaining and managing a safe, conducive environment where residents and visitors can thrive.
Any homeowner knows that home maintenance is an ongoing process. Houses always need improvements, whether it has a leaky faucet or a worsening crack in the foundation. The same can be said for your business website. There’s always room for improvement, whether that means bettering your content quality, boosting SEO, or enhancing the overall design.
1. How does a website redesign benefit my business?
Let’s continue with the house analogy. A huge home renovation requires ample time, money, and energy to complete. You wouldn’t tear down a wall or rip up floors without justification. If a renovation—even a minor one—is necessary, you need an action plan to remain within your budget and time frame.
What objectives do you have for your new website? Proper development and execution of your plan betters your chances of achieving standard website goals, such as:
Improve functionality and accessibility.
- Ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Add interactive elements.
- Automate repetitive tasks.
- Implement AI features.
Drive more traffic.
- Improve SEO and visibility online.
- Create more backlinks within pages.
- Collaborate with other creators.
Optimize pages for mobile.
- Prioritize faster loading speeds.
- Compress images.
- Create uniformity across device types.
- Adequately map out the customer journey.
2. What’s the difference between a website redesign and a website refresh?
As we know, you can perform a handful of home fixes on your own. (DIYers, rejoice!) Depending on your experience, you can make similar small changes to your webpages. However, we recommend bringing on a knowledgeable web developer to supervise all significant alterations to your site.
When we compare your digital website to a physical home, a refresh is equivalent to smaller, surface-level projects you can likely complete on your own with little expertise or supervision. A refresh for your home might involve painting the walls or retiling the backsplash. Meanwhile, a redesign in this context is comparable to larger-scale professional home improvements, such as removing an entire wall or installing a bathtub.
In other words, a website redesign essentially entails a full-scale overhaul. Usually, in this process, you will:
- Audit existing content.
- Optimize content for search engines.
- Restructure page layouts.
- Edit navigational elements.
- Integrate new plug-ins or modules.
- Reformat data organization.
With a website refresh, developers make relatively modest changes in design or functionality. Such edits can include updating colors, adding graphics, or tweaking fonts. A refresh rarely involves extensive, complex backend edits by the developer.
In general, your priority with a website redesign or refresh is bettering the user experience. In other words, what’s the best way to decrease your bounce rate and increase customer satisfaction? We show you how a thoughtful website redesign can achieve these goals and more.
3. What do I need to know before redesigning my website?
How should you prepare for your business’s online overhaul? Take the following professional advice for initiating your redesign:
Tip No. 1: Know your budget and create an in-depth action plan.
In a home renovation, no reputable contractor dives right into work on the first day on the job. Start by outlining your objectives and game plan, then concentrate on getting work done.
Tip No. 2: Understand the impact a website redesign could have on internal operations.
A website, like a house, is dynamic and affected by both internal and external factors. Consider how certain changes could potentially impact your employees’ workload or scope.
Tip No. 3: Clarify any significant changes in your business model or industry since the last site edit.
Home design trends constantly change. Business website best practices adapt to new technology and audience preferences in a similar way. Have there been huge breakthroughs or discoveries in your niche since the last redesign? Implement these insights into your new design to remain current.
4. How do I build a web redesign strategy?
No two action plans look the same, just like no two websites look exactly the same. Every design team builds a unique strategy for their redesign. But the standard strategic process looks a bit like this:
Step 1: Assess your existing website’s performance.
- Start with a comprehensive audit of all existing pages.
- Determine how your content is performing based on relevant key performance indicators.
- Poll your customers or staff on effective and ineffective elements of your pages.
Step 2: Establish your objectives.
- Write out your list of goals for redesigning your website.
- Ensure these objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals.
- Verify this undertaking supports and contributes to your company’s bottom line.
Step 3: Develop branding and messaging guidelines.
- Create a style guide to house all branding preferences.
- Include preferred color palettes, typefaces, heading styles, and other important design elements.
- Allow universal internal access to this document to keep everyone on the same page.
Step 4: Create detailed buyer personas.
- Hypothesize about what your ideal website visitor looks like.
- Research their hypothetical demographics and psychographics to develop detailed profiles.
- Figure out what your customers are trying to learn or achieve by visiting your website, then use that data to facilitate effortless access to this information.
Step 5: Optimize for search engines.
- Perform in-depth keyword research.
- Determine what type of content is currently ranking for relevant key phrases.
- Edit existing content to meet these criteria.
Step 6: Scope out the competition.
- Narrow down what features and elements you like and dislike about other websites in your industry.
- Brainstorm how your company can creatively replicate these desirables on your new website.
- Establish how these efforts directly benefit your website visitors and, ideally, your customers.
Step 7: Leverage current high-performing content.
- Using the results from your initial content audit, confirm what existing assets perform well with your audience.
- Define and try to quantify what makes this data valuable to your customers.
- Attempt to direct attention to these desirables in existing content and do your best to replicate them in future content.
Step 8: Find the right platform.
- Weigh the pros and cons of various website platforms, such as Hubspot, WordPress, and GoDaddy.
- Opt for a customer relationship management (CRM) software if your business requires more extensive management tools or capabilities.
- Remember that your chosen CRM or web host is essentially the home’s foundation. It should adequately support all of your organizational goals and needs without sacrificing usability.
5. What are the risks of redesigning my website?
As with any sizable project, you face a few risks when redesigning your website if you’re not careful. However, with the right resources and guidance, you can minimize some common web redesign risks.
Don't break the budget.
We’ve seen it on HGTV a thousand times: A relatively simple home improvement project quickly becomes a costly, lengthy renovation. A colony of rats lives in the walls. Mold has infested the crawlspace. The plumbing system needs a full replacement. These obstacles were not foreseen in the original action plan!
Unexpected expenses arise, whether you’re remodeling your house or redesigning your website. With a full website redesign, one or more of the following circumstances may increase costs:
- Supplemental staff training requirements
- New monthly fees and plug-in renewals
- Ongoing site maintenance and software updates
- Additional marketing and promotional services
- Change in domain name or associated email address
- Needing updated written or visual content
Reduce visitor disorientation.
Ever walk into your local grocery store to find it completely reformatted? Now you don’t know where any of your favorite products are! Some of your customers will likely feel similarly when you launch a completely redesigned website.
Although some drastic changes are certainly necessary, restructuring your pages carries the risk of disorienting and frustrating your visitors. Consider maintaining certain unifying or crucial elements that exist on your website so returning users don’t bounce due to unfamiliarity.
In the context of our analogy, the grocery still keeps your favorite brand of oatmeal shelved with the other breakfast cereals, it’s just located in a different aisle now. Encourage your customers to find what they’re looking for by using foundational elements that are familiar to them.
Fix broken links and redirects.
Adjusting certain pieces of your pages can cause dead ends on your website if you’re not careful. Developers refer to these dead ends as broken links, which occur when someone edits original content or URLs without considering the implications.
One key step in optimizing a website’s structure is consolidating or clarifying slugs. For example, you update the link to one of your articles from “yourcompany.com/blog-3134” to “yourcompany.com/blogs/website-redesign-tips” to make its contents more clear. Without imposing the proper redirect, every hyperlink that formerly linked to this post will now lead to an inexistent, broken link because “yourcompany.com/blog-3134” no longer exists.
A redirect’s purpose is to reconnect the page with its content. With the correct redirect approach, you can avoid sending visitors to dead-end pages they previously had access to.
All of your website questions, answered.
After using the above information to assess your website’s current status, we ask again: How is your house holding up? Do the walls just need a fresh coat of paint, or is a total demolition required?
If you’re still not sure, consult an experienced web designer and developer to help narrow down your best options. The right website changes can create a significant competitive advantage if approached properly.
Optimizing your website means finding the most efficient way to simultaneously achieve your customers’ goals and your business goals. Reach out to the pro digital marketers at SmartBug Media to ensure your new website retains audiences and benefits your business.
About the author
Maia Milas "You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." -Jodi Picoult Read more articles by Maia Milas.