Need to revamp your company website?
Here’s the website redesign process I use with my clients. It produces the best results in the shortest time possible with the least amount of effort.
The goal with any website redesign is to create a site that looks good (obviously), but you also want a site engineered to deliver leads and sales to your business.
In case you’re new to me, I’ve been designing and developing websites for nearly 20 years. I wrote the book, “The Modern Website Makeover”. I eat, breathe and live this stuff. This is what I do for a living.
Reasons To Redesign Your Website
Before getting too deep into the weeds on the website redesign process, let’s first look at the 5 most common reasons why you’d want to redesign your website at all:
1. Your site is broken.
I mean, it literally is not working. For example …
- Links or clickable images lead to a “404 page not found” error.
- Your site was designed using Flash technology and now it won’t work in modern web browsers like Google Chrome. Flash is obsolete web technology which is why Google and Adobe discontinued it in 2020.
- Your site was hacked, got infected with malware or somehow your website’s code got corrupted and now your site displays errors.
- Third-party software integrations like appointment calendars, image galleries or lead generation forms don’t work and need to be fixed.
2. Your site is hard to manage.
If you have to call your web developer whenever you want to make changes to your website, that’s a sign your site is hard to manage.
Many older websites are built using “static HTML” code which requires fluency in HTML and CSS programming languages to update your site. Today’s websites are powered by content management systems like WordPress which makes it possible to update your site without being a technical expert.
WordPress also allows multiple people to work on your site simultaneously and remotely. As your site’s administrator, you can set permissions for each user specifying what areas of your site they can (and cannot) access. If you ever need to revoke access to your website for a specific user, you can do so with just a few mouse clicks without affecting other users.
3. Leads and sales have decreased.
Multiple factors could be contributing to a decrease in leads and sales, but the most likely culprit is trust. Without a sufficient trust factor, visitors often don’t take the next step (i.e. making a purchase, requesting an appointment, downloading a free report, etc.).
Your website visitors need to feel they’re in the right place and you can actually help them solve their problem. They also need to feel doing business with you will be a safe/pleasant experience.
Here are 3 of the most common things causing visitors to not trust a website:
- Outdated design. Does your site look like you haven’t touched it in 5-10 years? Just like cars, clothes and cell phones, your website needs to keep pace with the times so you don’t look out of touch. First impressions matter.
- Outdated content. Maybe the information on your site is obsolete or no longer relevant. Perhaps you’re not answering your visitors’ most burning questions. Or maybe you are answering their questions, but not to their satisfaction.
- Poor user experience. Is it painful to use your site? Is it difficult for visitors to find what they’re looking for? Does something just not feel right? If your site activates your prospects’ Spidey sense they’ll retreat and go elsewhere.
But let’s say none of these are the issue and your website’s trust factor is just fine.
The next thing to look at is your sales process:
- Your offer. Have competitors raised the bar? Are they offering more value at the same or lower prices than you? If so, you might need to revamp your current offers or come up with something new and different than your competitors.
- Your ask frequency. Sometimes the solution to increasing leads and sales is to just ask more frequently. Yes, it really can be that simple. The number of leads and sales your website generates is usually proportional to how many times you ask your prospect to take action.
- Website traffic. Sales is largely a numbers game. More traffic to your site usually translates to more leads and sales. You can either buy traffic with paid advertising or you can attract traffic from search engines with high-quality web content. If your traffic strategy is to attract visitors via search engines, you might need to rethink the content topics on your site and/or increase the volume of content you produce.
Have your website visitors (or even friends, family or employees) complained about your website being:
- Not mobile-friendly. Are you really still forcing your visitors to pinch and zoom to read your content on their phone? C’mon now.
- Not secure. Even if you don’t sell things via a shopping cart on your website, visitors still expect to see the little padlock in their web browser. It’s all about helping visitors feel comfortable and secure.
- Slow. Whether someone’s viewing your site on their phone, tablet or PC, pages should load in 3 seconds or less. That’s kind of the unwritten rule these days.
- Cluttered and disorganized. Are you making your visitors hunt and peck all over your site to find what they’re looking for? Help them to get the info they want in the fewest clicks possible. Here’s a good example of a city in Illinois wanting to redesign their site because they feel it’s “disorganized”.
5. You just don’t like your website.
It might be how your site looks, what it says, how it functions — or a maybe a combination of all three.
Whatever the reason, if your website makes you cringe because it doesn’t represent your brand or the quality of products/services you offer, it’s time for a redesign.
The Website Redesign Process
Let me now pull back the curtain and show you the website redesign process the pros use:
Step 1: PREP
- Take inventory. Go through your existing website and decide what to keep and what to ditch. Parting ways with website content can be difficult, especially if you’ve invested time or money to produce that content. But times change and sometimes older content just doesn’t work anymore. If you want an objective, data-driven approach, take a look at your Google Analytics stats and keep the pages people actually visit and say adios to the underperforming pages no one ever looks at.
- Mystery shop competitors. Take lots of notes and screenshots. What color schemes seem to be popular? What images, videos, content topics and calls to action are they using? How are their sites organized? Do they invite visitors to download free reports or add their names to a mailing list? What terminology and jargon are they using … or not using? If you’re feeling especially sleuthy, use the Wayback Machine to see how your competitors’ sites have changed over time.
- Develop new content. Whatever new pictures, videos or copy you feel your website needs, you develop it here in the prep phase. You’ll figure out where to put this new content in step # 2 (the design phase). PRO TIP: Rather than just guessing what content people want, you can spy on your competitors and see what content is already popular on their websites using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs. These are both paid tools, but they each have a 7-day trial, which might be all you need.
- Stay organized. Redesigning your website can get out of control really fast if you’re not organized. Keep all of your content in a cloud-based folder system like Dropbox or Google Drive for easy access on all devices. Also, taking the time to label all of your content with descriptive titles will pay huge dividends when you try and find that content later on in the redesign process. Remember, too, to extract the code from your existing site for things like Google Analytics, your Facebook conversion pixel and any other website integrations. And don’t be afraid to keep a little website redesign journal in a simple text file or Word doc because I *guarantee* you will forget stuff if you don’t write it down.
Prep work isn’t sexy or glamorous, but it’s a necessary part of the process. It’s kinda like taping off doors and windows, and putting drop cloths on furniture before painting your living room.
Step 2: DESIGN
Now the fun starts. This step is where you assemble the info gathered in step # 1 above and transform it into something resembling a website. Here are my 5 biggest website design tips:
- Don’t reinvent the wheel. Stick to what works. Use website layouts and design elements that people are already familiar with. Look at your competitors’ sites, see what they’re doing, then try and make your site better.
- Get to the point. Your visitors have shorter attention spans than ever and they all basically have 2 questions, “Can you help me?” and “Do you have the info I’m looking for?” That’s it. So do your best to present your content as succinctly as possible. If you have a long page with a lot of copy, that’s totally fine as long as everything is relevant.
- Invest in good images. Dollar for dollar, investing in high-quality images is one of the best ways to upgrade your website. You can get really nice, royalty-free stock images from places like bigstockphoto.com or istock.com. I don’t recommend wasting time trying to find “free” images because (a) your time is valuable, (b) who knows if the images are infringing on a copyright, and (c) you usually get what you pay for. Hiring a professional photographer for headshots or pictures of your office or your products is also a great investment.
- Infuse persuasion. You’re going to need more than a pretty website to grow your business. That’s why every successful website needs to include the fundamentals of direct response advertising. Things like attention-grabbing headlines, compelling copy, irresistible offers and calls to action. You need to think of your website like a digital salesperson rather than a glorified business card. Remember, nothing happens with your business unless you persuade prospects to take action.
- Solicit opinions and feedback. Don’t be too proud or headstrong to ask others what they think about your website because sometimes we’re so “close” to our business we can’t see the forest for the trees. Even better, ask a professional web designer for their ideas because that’s their area of expertise. Flat out, my best website designs are when my clients collaborate with me. They give me a general idea of what they want, I then give them feedback and recommendations, and between the two of us we come up with a finished product better than either of us could’ve created on our own in isolation.
When the design process is complete, you now have the blueprint you’ll use for building your new site.
Step 3: DEVELOP
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to start rebuilding your site.
With a website redesign, normally you build your new website on a staging server (aka developmental server) while your existing site remains online. When your new site is ready to go, you then archive your old site then immediately migrate your newly redesigned site to your website domain. It’s normal to have a bit of website downtime during this transition, which is why we try and do these website migrations after hours or on weekends when possible.
To develop your website, more than likely you’ll probably stick with the same platform you currently use just for the sake of familiarity — unless of course you hate your current website platform. In that case, a website redesign is a perfect time to switch to a website platform more to your liking.
In case you’re wondering, my website and all of the sites we build for clients are self-hosted websites using the WordPress platform.
Step 4: LAUNCH
Pop the cork, your new and improved website is live for the world to see. But there’s still a little more work to do.
- Post-launch testing. Even if you tested your site before going live, you still want to go through your site one more time to check for any errors, typos or grammatical errors. Click on every link to make sure they still all work because sometimes they break during a site migration. Do a few more test submissions to confirm your forms are working. You can’t have silly mistakes on your site if you want to be taken seriously.
- Backup system is in place. After investing time, effort and probably some money to upgrade your site you want to make sure you have a reliable backup system in place. Sites can go down due to hardware or software failures, malware infection or good ol’ fashioned user error. For added protection, build in some redundancy and store a copy of your site in an offsite location that’s completely independent of your website server or local hard drive.
- Hard copy docs printed. Electronic files can get accidentally misplaced or deleted. So immediately after your site goes live, print out a hardcopy document containing all critical site information and store it in a safe place. I’m all about using less paper and saving trees, but this is one exception.
- Tracking software confirmed working. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. So you need to make sure your Google Analytics code, Facebook pixel and any other statistical tracking software are installed and working.
- Announcing your new site. If you feel the need, you can issue a press release or send out an email broadcast to your subscriber list announcing your upgraded website. Me personally, I don’t feel a formal announcement for a website redesign is necessary. Instead, I would just carry on business as usual. When they visit your site, prior visitors will simply notice it’s different.
Now you know what the website redesign process looks like.
As your business evolves, as your prospects evolve, as your industry evolves … so, too, will your website need to evolve to stay relevant and up-to-date.
A well-executed website redesign can:
- Elevate your company image.
- Increase leads and sales.
- Boost company morale.
- Put your competitors on notice that you’re a player.
If you think your website needs a redesign, it probably does.