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3 key steps to redesigning your website

With the new year often comes a burst of motivation to change, improve, develop and update your business and your website. As such, many website owners, bloggers and businesses start thinking about redesigning their websites at the start of a new year.

We recommend that you give your site a refresh – if not a redesign, about every three years to keep things looking modern and up to date. Just like fashion, technology, cars and business – a lot can change in three years when it comes to the latest trends and best practices for website design. For example how well does your website work on a smartphone? What about a kindle or tablet?

These devices might seem unimportant but mobiles and tablets account for around 20% of traffic on most sites (significantly more on some). Research has shown that mobile searches are particularly high for location based research for example, eg Hairdressers in Wolverhampton or Bristol Restaurants. That 20% of mobile users is an important segment and one you shouldn’t ignore!

A website redesign is a good opportunity to revisit things which aren’t working as you originally expected on your website. Maybe there are sections of your site which are out of date and as your website and business has evolved have become irrelevant. OR perhaps there are parts of your site which have become really important and should be prioritised above other sections.

A redesign of your website takes just as much (if not more) thought and consideration as your initial website design. Its a chance for you to evaluate where you are, and also where you want to be and how you can get there. Large businesses and corporates will take months – even years planning and implementing website redesign, however for smaller companies, bloggers, and self employed website owners this simply isn’t feasible – and chances are, you don’t need to go in to the same depth and evaluation as a corporate giant.

Below we’ve listed three key steps for you to follow for planning and briefing your website redesign. You might be able to get through these quickly, or it may take you some time. It all depends on how much content there is on your website, and how many changes you want or need to make. The important thing is that you consider the points on each step in as much detail as you can.

Step 1 – Evaluate

Make a list of all of the things that you like about your website and all of the things you don’t like. Be specific and be detailed – sometimes it is the small things that make all the difference. Get other people to help you with this as well, friends, family, work colleagues or even customers.

Test your website on different devices and in different browsers. The days when everyone viewed a website on a laptop or desktop using internet explorer are long behind us. Try it out on a phone, a tablet, and in browsers like Safari, Chrome and Firefox too.

Evaluate the relevancy of your website. Is the content on the homepage still the most important content? Are you using all parts of the site as you imagined? Earmark anything which you think needs removing, is no longer relevant or anything which needs to be prioritised.

Step 2 – Envisage

Now you have an idea of where you are presently, the next step is defining where you want to be. Identify what the most important pages are for your users. Try to take a content-first approach and focus on what information they might be looking for and how easy it is for them to find.

Next, start thinking about how the site looks and, more importantly, how it feels. Does it convey the right message about you? Is it giving the right impression? Try writing down some key words or phrases which really represent what you want your business and your website to be about. They might be words like “fun”, or “professional” or “trustworthy” or “green”

Do a bit of market research. Have a look around the web for other examples of sites that you like. They might be in the same industry or totally unrelated. Save the links in a folder or document somewhere and make a note of why you like them. You can do this in a word doc or spreadsheet or using an online bookmarking tool like Springpad or Pinterest so you can easily save things as you find them.

Step 3 – Action

By this stage you should have an idea of:

  • What’s working and what’s not working on your current site
  • What you like and what you don’t
  • Which content is most important to your website users
  • How you want to prioritise and organise your content.
  • The impression and messages that you want to put across
  • Other websites that you like and why you like them

The next step is bringing all of this together and identifying HOW you are going to get there. If you haven’t already got a web designer and developer involved in the steps above, now is the time to find someone. The above bullet points will act as tools or building blocks which your designer should be able to use to produce something which meets your requirements. Some questions to ask your designer include:

  • How long will this take?
  • How much will it cost ?
  • How will the new site work on mobile and tablet?
  • Will the new site be future proof?
  • How easy will the new site be to update. Are there any parts of the design which can’t be updated?
  • Is this in line with current industry trends and best practices?
  • What extra information does the designer need to do the work?