When it comes to a website redesign the first thing that should come to mind is UI and UX design as they are operationally what web design is. When talking about a website redesign, the most important facet of ANY website is to allow any relevant visitor to find and interact with the information or content they need, without frustration; that is the UX design. Right behind that you want the quality of content to be high and the graphic design to be crisp and clean; that is the UI design. At the end of the day no matter how good a website looks, it is rendered almost useless if it doesn’t work. That is why UI and UX design are inseparable buddies and the core of a website redesign or even an initial design for that matter.
Learn the client, learn the market
Before you jump into creating a new design it is important to gather enough information to create a meaningful one, not just something that looks good to you. In website redesign, knowledge is power. The company’s website is for the target market and if it doesn’t resonate with them then the website redesign was a complete waste of time.
A good place to start may be with interviews with the executives of the company to nail down what the company is all about. With this interview, you want to thoroughly understand the service they provide, how they provide it, how they have been the most easily interpreted by their market in the past, and how they hope to be interpreted by their target moving forwards. It is found helpful to make a data-driven marketing persona to better understand who this website will be marketed to. Another great way to gather information and ideas is to perform some competitive analysis. See what other companies that engage the same market are doing on their websites and mimic or improve their UI and UX design to reap the most attention.
Define the purpose of website redesign
Try to avoid the fluffy, cookie-cutter, obvious end-game reasons such as “Improving ROI” and “ boost online marketing conversions”; granted these are valid reasons they are too broad and leave too many more questions to be answered. A good place to start for defining a purpose for a website redesign would be a project brief. This would be a document that would answer the following questions:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- Why does this need to be done?
- Who are we doing this for?
- How will they know about it?
- How is success measured?
- What resources do we need to make this happen?
- What are the must-haves?
- Who is on the project team?
- What is the deadline?
This is a document you want to keep updated throughout the entire website redesign process as things might change and not being agile can make or break a company or project.
Keep your homepage strong
A website’s homepage is not just the online face of the entire company but also the first opportunity to really engage users. Being the first impression you need to keep in mind this is the main access point for the message, brand, and website navigation. Make written content simple and concise while keeping the most important information above the fold for users to immediately see it. Certain elements are standard among the internet browsing community such as a logo in the top left corner always routing back to the home page. Your homepage should always link an about page, a features page (services/products), a contact page, a pricing page and a blog or news page. Spend time and work on your homepage.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is something to be thought about during an initial build or website redesign. This is the most organic way to market a website besides word of mouth and it is how initial contact with users will be made. You don’t want to leave it for after the redesign. That being said it cannot be first and you should not attempt to build a website around SEO. Most experts say that a solid foundation for successful SEO is having valuable content for users with a seamless UX design. The reason for this is search engines track what people search to get to all types of content. They track how long users stay on a page which tells the engine whether the content was related to the search input and/or valuable to the user. Hence, the more relevant and valuable the content, the higher the chance relevant organic searchers will find and click on the website, and the longer they will likely stay.
Be ready for the long game
There is no better way to evaluate the UI and UX design or redesign of a website than user acceptance testing. Testing doesn’t only happen at one point in time, though. The best designs are data-driven. This is why the best UI and UX designs are created through continual website testing and user acceptance testing over time. This allows future tweaks and changes to be based on decisions influenced by feedback given by the actual target users. Gather as much feedback as you can about your website from your online visitors and do it continuously. After that analyze the data with a feedback analytics tool and learn from the results. We are using Mopinion to do this.
No matter how well you prepare or plan though, markets can be unpredictable. Consider a website launch as the starting point of the growth strategy and choose a web development team that you can work with in the future to keep improving the success.
To sum things up, knowledge, organization, the will to research and learn, and best practice awareness, will give you the foundation for a successful website redesign. Execution and upkeep will determine how successful the website redesign will be for the long haul.
Remember, there is no end-all be-all in website redesign.