Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

The Three Secrets of a Dynamite Web Site Redesign

by Susan Pomeroy

Website redesign

What’s involved in a web site redesign? A little, or a lot. It depends upon two things:

(1) what your goals are, and

(2) how the site was created in the first place.

Your Goals

I’ve helped people redesign their sites for a lot of reasons:

  • Adding features to an existing design.
  • Wanting a more flexible system that allows them to change and update the site themselves.
  • The site feels totally outdated and limiting; they want to redo the whole thing.

The first step in a redesign is figuring out what your real needs are. Are you looking for higher sales, better data collection, easier purchase process, more clients, more memberships or subscriptions, fewer customer service calls, no more emails asking the same questions over and over, etc. Do you need your site to express who you and your business are now, not who you were five years ago?

Make a list, and prioritize what you want from a revamped site before you start.

The First Secret: Design

There are three parts to any web site redesign: the design, marketing, and technical aspects. All of them tie into and effect each other.

First, is the actual design portion. This includes:

  • Adapting new content or technical options without compromising an existing design, or
  • Creating a completely new site, including layout, navigation, colors, typography and imagery.

The Second Secret: Marketing

Second is marketing. By “marketing,” I mean the entire user experience created by the combination of content and visual interface. Questions to ask yourself here are,

  • What actions do you want people to take on each one of your pages?
  • How are you persuading them to do this?

“Marketing” is tied into every aspect of your site, from the visual look and feel, to what kind of payment system and shopping cart you choose. A redesign is the best opportunity you can have to think about how your users’ experience can be enhanced—added to, simplified, clarified—in ways that grow your business. You want every page on your site to steer the user to a single action, whether it’s to sign up for your mailing list, purchase a product, or simply click to the next page in a sequence.

“Marketing” also encompasses the selection of keywords and keyphrases that you use to get organic and/or paid search results. If you need professional help to determine your keywords, by all means, get it.

The Third Secret: The Technical Portion of a Redesign

The technical area is the most difficult one for many non-technical people to assess, and yet it too can determine the success of failure of the site. It can also be the source of large unexpected costs. We’re talking here about:

  • What scripting language(s) your site is constructed with—HTML, PHP, CSS, Javascript, etc.
  • Where your site is hosted,
  • Whether your site is tied to a particular template system, like Shopify or Yahoo Stores,
  • What software or platform is used to build the site—Dreamweaver, Cold Fusion, WordPress, etc.,
  • How much flexibility is built into the site,
  • Whether you or your staff can alter and update it yourselves, and
  • How search-engine friendly your site is (actual keyword and keyphrase deployment in the site, see Is Your Site’s “Invisible Sloppy Web Design” Sending Visitors Away?)

There may be cost (or other) advantages to making changes in one or all of these areas during a redesign. Web technology changes very fast, and what was effective five years ago may no longer be the way to go now—or tomorrow. Some designers know nothing about business needs; some programmer-types know nothing about creating a visually pleasing site. You need to work with someone who is aware of the benefits to you and your business of planning ahead for maximum flexibility.

Bottom Line

A redesign is an opportunity, a moment when careful planning and analysis now can save you hours of effort and a bundle of money down the road. Sometimes, the word “redesign” is a misnomer, because you’re really creating a whole new site. In other cases, a redesign is exactly what’s called for to fix or add to a working site.

Whichever route you take to revamp your small business web site, your designer—or your design team, even if that’s just you and your designer (or just you!)—needs to understand the trade-offs among the three key areas: esthetic, marketing, and technical. Handling these three areas well will give you a site that can be phenomenally successful.

More Web Redesign Resources

Two of the best marketing-type guides I know to putting together a successful small business web site are Sufi master business coach Mark Silver’s Heart Centered Web Sites, and marketing coach Robert Middleton’s Web Site Toolkit. Both will tell you what kinds of pages you need and what kinds of language or “calls to action” to use in order to create a site that improves your business.

If you’re just starting out in business, I also recommend that you pick up a copy of Middleton’s Infoguru Marketing Manual. It covers the basics—how to talk and write interestingly about your business, and exactly what tasks to do to market your business. Yes, I am an affiliate! I’ve been using and recommending Middleton’s products for nearly ten years because he’s made such a huge positive difference in my own business.

 

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