If you use a website as a business, blog, or personal site, chances are that you took time to carefully craft the layout and content. Unfortunately, with the passage of time or with a greater focus on information over appearance, it can be easy for design to pass you by – and that’s something that may ultimately end up damaging your site.
Design is crucial to your site’s viewership because it’s the first thing viewers see – before they even read the article or view the photos you offer, they notice how your website is laid out and other aspects such as graphics and color scheme. According to Accrinet, web design and content are equally important when it comes to providing users with a quality experience and attracting their attention in the first place.
With this in mind, it may be time to take a step back and decide that you want to redesign your site. Whether it’s simply been a while and your site’s look is starting to become dated, or whether the appearance is actually damaging your website conversion rate, you may choose to revamp the site’s look – and here are three steps to take to make sure that this process goes as smoothly and effectively as possible.
1. Evaluate your current site.
The most crucial aspect of redesigning a site is, of course, the fact that you are designing it again – or, you already have something there, but it just needs to be improved upon. Because of this, it is important to look at the site that you have and decide what exactly needs to be changed, so that the new design that you create is truly improved over the old one.
To start, use web analytics such as Google Analytics, a free tool that websites can use to view basic information about their web traffic and other aspects of their sites. Using web analytics can tell you a variety of things about your site, starting with how many people view your site daily, when peak traffic takes place, and what pages are visited most frequently.
The most important feature, however, is the bounce rate – the percentage of users that leave your site after viewing just one page (usually the front page). This will help you pinpoint what exactly is the problem with your site (if there is one), so you know where to focus your redesign efforts.
After bounce rate, it’s also important to create a keyword inventory to take stock of your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) assets, so that you can ensure that you preserve essential content that gets views for your site. Using web analytics can help you determine how much of an impact your site’s SEO keywords have on users, and will let you know if you need to improve that aspect of your site or not.
Finally, you can further pinpoint exactly what your customers are looking for by evaluating your competition. Is their site sleeker than yours? Does it make more use of multimedia such as videos and photos? Does it use bright colors, or subdued ones? Note what your competitors do in order to improve your own marketing.
2. Set a goal.
After you understand what about your site needs to be changed, the next step is to set goals for your new site design, based off of what you learned from your evaluation. There are several aspects to consider when re-designing your layout, depending on how far you want to go and how much needs to be changed.
If you have found, using analytics and competitor analysis, that the main issue with your site is layout (for example, that the pages are not placed in a logical order or that information is hard for users to find), your goal will include creating a navigation map for your site, indicating what pages will be placed in what order and under which tabs or headers.
If, on the other hand, your issue is general design (including color, graphics, and/or design elements), and you wish to completely redo your entire website theme, you should set your goals to be specifically what you want your site to look like. For example, a goal may be to design a new logo or have a website that navigates vertically instead of horizontally (using tabs).
Finally, it is important to set quantifiable goals (such as a decreased bounce rate or increased conversion rate) so that you can have something from which to evaluate the performance of your new site after it is done.
3. Make changes.
After evaluating your current site and planning out what you want your new design to look like, go ahead with the changes! Your current site may have to be down for a few days while your web developers work on the updates, but as long as you have everything planned beforehand, you should be back up – new and improved – in no time.