You want a website redesign, and that usually means updating the look of your website so it can reflect a new colour scheme or a logo update that’s been newly implemented. This is all fine and dandy, but it’s a quick fix that won’t necessarily fix anything on the side of the user.
Let’s just say that most websites built more than five years ago need a major lift both in aesthetics but also in the way they were coded: Five years ago, the web standards were very different from the ones in use today. Five years ago no one really worried over-much about a website’s responsiveness.
This is just one example, but it illustrates my point and is just one in a series of redesign mistakes that will cost you users if they are not remedied.
1. Having no clear goals
On the one hand, you want a new website that doesn’t look dated. On the other hand, you need more concrete goals and they need to be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound.
- Specific: Increase conversion
- Measurable: Increase conversion by x%
- Attainable: Based on your current statistics, choose a reasonable percentage that can be reached
- Relevant: Increasing Christmas sales after December doesn’t quite make sense
- Timebound: Increase conversion by x% over the next quarter, month, year
2. Not having benchmarks from your current analytics
You should have a clear idea of what’s working, what isn’t, and what you may have missed. These benchmarks should be kept handy for when you audit your re-launched website’s new analytics, to see, again, what’s working, what isn’t, and what can be improved or dismissed.
Keep a record of this data handy for reference:
- Monthly page views / visitors, and average month-over-month increase. This is pretty self-explanatory. Over the next few months after the re-launch, you’ll obviously want an increase in page views and visitors.
- Bounce rate. This is the percentage of visitors that navigate away from your site after viewing only one page.
- Time on site. Obviously the longer a visitor spends on your site, the better for you and / or your sales!
- Number of pages viewed per session. You’ll want to keep a record of how many pages a visitor viewed per visit.
- Traffic sources. Who referred your visitors? You’ll want to keep these in mind, especially the search engines whom you could endeavour to advertise with to increase your website’s ranking and visitors.
- SERPs ranking for keywords. SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. Your paid advertising, for example through Google AdWords, will hopefully earn you more visitors and therefore more business. You’ll want to regularly check to see how your keywords are ranking. They will also indicate whether your keywords are performing well or poorly.
- Most trafficked pages. This will indicate which pages get the more visits.
- Page load time. This statistic is important for search engine ranking. You’ll want to decrease your page load time whenever possible.
- Inbound links. An inbound link is a link from another website that leads to your own website. Think of it as someone else marketing for you. Websites that receive many inbound links are more likely to rank higher on search engines.
- Landing page conversion rates. A landing page is a dedicated, campaign-specific page that a visitor lands on after clicking on an online marketing call-to-action. It has no actual ties to your website and has no global navigation. In essence it just holds your campaign and tries to entice your potential customers into buying the product or service you are aiming to sell on this page. So, basically, we’re going to be gathering analytics about who “converted” to your product or service.
- Call-to-action click-through rates. A call-to-action is a button that you will be using to entice your potential customer to buy your product or service from your main website.
3. Not understanding the extent and technical requirements of your site
A website redesign can become a nightmare if the full extent of the project wasn’t laid out on the table in the first place. This would in turn become a financial fiasco for both you and for your designer, and you would be incredibly disappointed.
When I have a website redesign project that comes into my hands, I try to ask as many questions as possible. And I take notes. Lots of notes. I’ll ask questions that will pertain to your audience, goals, functionality, content needs, and marketing plan for the site before I even start sketching. Everything is outlined in a document that we both agree on before I touch the project. Everything will be reviewed at each stage of the project. This way, I can save myself a lot of unnecessary hours of time spent unproductively, and you can save yourself a lot of money spent uselessly.
4. Suggesting or demanding an unrealistic timeline
Producing a website requires a lot of time spent on research and discovery, sketching, reviewing and creating, designing, development and testing. Most website redesigns take upwards from 12 to 16 weeks to deliver. Basically, the “have it done yesterday” approach is not only impossible, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: designers find that phrase extremely rude and demeaning.
[bctt tweet=”Most website redesigns take upwards from 12 to 16 weeks to deliver.”]
Shortening a timeline means cutting corners. Cutting corners means less than stellar work. Less than stellar work means something we wouldn’t be proud to show our mommas. As designers, we would like to be able to put everything we’ve ever made into our portfolios; “have it done yesterday” equals pretty much the bin in our minds as soon as we’re done with the project. Sorry, but truth.
We want to produce the best work we can, and trust us, we’re not just doing this to show off our work to our other designer friends in a weird cockfight kind of way; we want to show our potential clients that we produce good work. We want loyal clients.
The other problem with that approach is that… will you be approving our content yesterday? In other words, if you set a tight deadline on us, will you be cooperative and approving our work as tight-deadliney as you are with us? In other words, can you meet the deadline you set on us? The risk with tight deadlines is that we’re rushing ahead, then stuck waiting on an approval, and then miss our deadline because our client couldn’t rush with us. (It’s happened far too often)
5. Focusing too much on how your site looks
There is a fine line separating what you want and what your customers want. Your website should always cater to your customers’ and prospective customers’ needs. Likewise, how it looks, functions and the content you present them should cater to their needs.
[bctt tweet=”Your website should always cater to your customers’ and prospective customers’ needs.”]
Focusing too much on how your site looks can be detrimental. Here is why:
- Your website should highlight the problems prospective customers face and give them tips and resources on how to solve their problems. This is known as the awareness stage.
- Your website could and perhaps should include links, webinars, product samples, testimonials and other such content that can highlight the fact that your brand is a match for his business. This is known as the consideration stage.
- Your website should show the differentiating factors that set you apart from your competition. Show how you compare with them. Provide success stories. These will help a potential customer choose, probably in your favour. This is known as the decision stage.
When I design a website, or anything really, I try to factor in these stages to lead my design in the right direction. Your design should lead your potential customers into a journey where they will feel comfortable trusting you with their business. The content is just as important as how it functions.
6. Pushing aside mobile users
Let’s be honest: if you push aside mobile users, you will lose business. I’m not saying this lightly. In February 2015, Google announced that they would upgrade their ranking algorithm to benefit sites that are mobile-friendly. How does that affect you and your business? Greatly. If you think a mobile-friendly website isn’t your first priority, then think again. A fast mobile experience should be important to you, as is keeping your business afloat in the ocean that is search results. The solution? Responsive design.
Here are some stats to help sway you towards the new way of thinking:
- 90% of smartphone users use their phones to compare products
- Emails are opened on smartphones 180% more since the last three years
- In 2014, mobile apps generated 42% of mobile sales
- Mobile coupons are redeemed 10 times more than print coupons
Don’t get left out in the dust… I mean, personally I’m not a huge smartphone user but one can’t deny the numbers their great importance.
7. Erroneously thinking that the website is finished after launch
The website redesign is finished, you’ve paid your designer, and it’s over for you because they did a great job and it looks snazzy, right? You couldn’t be more wrong.
Think about it. Do the Coca-Cola bottles and cans look the same all the time? Does your favourite grocery store look the same all year round? The problem with that process (the one of becoming a sitting duck) is that it doesn’t generate leads, it doesn’t convert people, and it certainly doesn’t generate sales or engagement. Your site remains stagnant. Sure, at first people will notice the changes, and they might even enjoy the content that you painstakingly put out every once in a while. But it’s not just about the content updates.
Your website should evolve with your business and with your clients. Your content shouldn’t just be about you either. Keep your clients in mind. It’s not about what you want to sell, it’s about what your clients need and what will make their experience with you memorable.
[bctt tweet=”Your website should evolve with your business and with your clients.”]
It’s little things like, say, adding a holiday touch around the holidays, tailoring your posts around case studies that value your customers and their opinions (heck, even communicating with them), and your site can always be improved. Just like a recipe doesn’t always have to be the same from time to time, your website can be improved for a better experience. And yes, this does mean putting your designer on a retainer. A continuous improvement website model will only benefit you in the long run.
In conclusion, don’t let redesign mistakes become the anchor that keeps you down. Working through those redesign mistakes will form the bigger picture and get your website to convert to leads, sales and engagement. So how can you do that? Through having clear goals, having clear benchmark analytics, understanding the extent and technical requirements involved in website creation, having a realistic timeline, not focusing on how the website looks but rather how it can deliver, accounting for mobile users, and not thinking that the website is finished once it’s delivered.
How do you work with your designer? Let me know in the comments!