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Nine things I've learnt from a website redesign

Friday, 25 January 2013 | By Adam Franklin

When you find yourself in your client’s shoes, it’s a very valuable learning experience.

 

I’ve been involved in the redesign of my company’s website and wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far.

 

1. Be clear on why you’re doing it

 

In my case, it was threefold:

  • to generate more leads by improving the conversion rate of my homepage, because it gets the most traffic.
  • to rebuild the site in WordPress, so it's easier for me and my team to manage.
  • to improve the user experience.

I wanted to simplify the content based on what people care about, and make the popular content more visible. Google Analytics will tell you which pages get traffic and which get none, so I also learnt to eliminate the unpopular content.

 

2. Simplify menu options

 

Usability best practice says to keep menu options to seven or less. You can add a secondary menu to achieve this, and like I did, you can relocate certain menu items to the footer.

 

3. Don’t have broken links

 

Ensure you have 301 redirects for pages you've eliminated because when Google re-indexes your new, simplified website, it will find pages that no longer exist.

 

And this is a bad thing for your search results; unless you have 301 redirects that point Google to an actual page on your new website.

 

4. Retain powerful back links

 

You’ve probably acquired a large collection of back links pointing to your most popular web pages, typically your blog articles and your free downloads.

 

Whatever you do, keep these URLs identical on your new site so you keep their ‘SEO juice’.

 

5. Education, validation, action

 

Understand that people visiting your site firstly require education, so provide valuable, free information.

 

Secondly, they want to know why you’re a better choice than your competitors, so provide information that validates your company. And, finally, if you ‘meet the buyers criteria’ they will want to take action, so include a clear ‘call to action’.

 

6. Optimise your free content not your product pages

 

Remembering that visitors want information to solve their problem before they decide if they engage your organisation, it’s worth optimising your ‘free download’ landing pages rather than your product pages.

 

7. Don’t confuse return visitors

 

Remember, many people will be return visitors, so you want to keep the site as familiar as you can.

 

8. Do it for the right reasons

 

You shouldn’t redesign your website because you're sick of the design and you want a fresh, new look. It’s not about you; it’s about the people who visit your site!

 

9. Final thought

 

Focus on adding value to your community and the lead generation should take care of itself.

 

My new website will be going live in the next fortnight, and I look forward to sharing how the transition goes!

 

To appreciate how your website fits into your web universe, take a look at the Web Strategy Planning Template - it’s a free download.