Your website is your business’ first impression to hundreds or thousands of visitors. That’s why more organizations are looking at how to redesign a website to help their business grow and attract more customers. Get it right, and you can improve your website’s performance, increasing leads and conversions.
In recent years, Google is placing more emphasis on the user experience that a site can offer, and in May of 2021, Google rolled out a new algorithm that actively punishes websites that offer poor site experiences. For businesses that haven’t given much thought to their site, this has naturally pushed redesign projects to the top of priority lists.
But where do you start? What should you change? And who can help you? The good news is we’ve compiled a list of nine steps for a smooth makeover. Follow them and learn how to redesign your website today.
To learn more about what makes for an effective website, download our eBook, What Makes a Quality Website?, to see what professional designers are doing to build more optimized websites than ever before.
1. Know Why You’re Redesigning Your Website
Rebranding your website takes valuable resources, so before you invest, be sure you’re redesigning for the right reasons. Consider the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when accessing your website’s rebranding needs. And base your decisions on analytics, not just your gut instinct.
The main reason a website requires rebranding is a breakdown in communicating your brand’s message or a lack of a positive user experience, resulting in falling traffic and conversions. Or maybe you want to open up your business’ ability to make online transactions but you lack any kind of eCommerce features.
To fix the problem, you first have to know what it is. You find that out through analytical research and by asking questions like:
- Is my site mobile optimized?
- How is the UX (user experience) performing?
- Are the plugins functioning correctly?
- Is it loading fast enough?
- Is our branding fulfilling our user’s intent?
- Have we changed our goals since launching?
- Is our branding up-to-date?
If you answered yes to any questions 1 to 4 – you need a technical update. 5 to 7 – It’s time for a rebrand. 1 to 7 – You need both.
2. Set Your Branding Team in Place
To ensure a smooth transition from old to new branding, you need a team with the right skill sets and experience. Otherwise, what should be an exciting time could quickly become a stressful undertaking that fails to achieve the required results.
You have three team options:
- In-house: If you have an in-house team up to the job, they’ll know your brand’s DNA and personality better than anyone.
- Brand agency: While they won’t know your brand as intimately as an in-house team, they’ll have highly skilled and experienced professionals, know the latest design trends, and offer an unbiased perspective.
- Freelancers: If you only require help with specific design elements or your budget doesn’t stretch to employing a brand agency, a freelance designer is a viable option.
3. Audit Your Branding
An audit is an in-depth review of all the working parts of your website and provides crucial insights into what’s presently performing and what’s not.
While site analytical data will identify low-performing pages and determine where visitors are “bouncing,” your audit aims to tell you why.
Once completed, you’ll know which elements require your attention. However, you can’t change one design element of your branding without considering the implications it might have on another.
Brands are crafted with intention, with every element connected to and supporting each other, creating a working harmony that communicates your message in a way that engages your target audience. Before you implement change, arrange your steps, so they take your brand’s new design forward in unison.
4. Assess Your Users’ Journey
If your users get lost or frustrated while making the journey from landing page to purchase, they’re going to up and leave to a competitor, and no amount of rebranding will stop it from happening.
One of the most important aspects of learning how to redesign a website is discovering what your users are currently doing. Just as crucially, you also have to know what they aren’t doing that you want them to be.
You must fully understand every action and emotion your users feel at each stage of their journey to ensure it’s as comfortable and seamless as possible.
You achieve that by understanding what they’re looking for at each point, pre-empting any questions they might have, and optimizing where they’ll look for the answer during the buying process.
Your goal is to pre-load the journey for them. And you can do that by:
- Asking previous users questions about their experience
- Discovering where users bounce during the journey and why
- Assessing which areas your visitors interact with most
- Determining whether the site is optimized for multiple platforms
As part of identifying the common pathways that customers take when visiting your site, it’s important to keep the mobile design in mind. As of late 2022, nearly 50% of all total website visits are done via a mobile device.
If half of your visitors are coming to you through their phones, it’s critical that you provide a smooth, easy-to-use experience for them. Mobile-friendly sites are so important even Google is taking mobile optimization into account for its search engine results page (SERP) rankings, meaning a bad mobile site could negatively impact your SEO.
5. Clarify Your Brand’s Message
Maybe you think you only need a new logo or a change of color palette. But before you start tinkering with your visual identity, ensure that it’s following your new branding message.
For your new branding to work on your redesigned website, it’s essential you first articulate the message you’re trying to convey and infuse it into:
- All of your brand’s messaging pillars: (mission, values, purpose, positioning, look and feel)
- Brand essence: (personality, voice, and tone)
- Unique value proposition.
Before deciding on a complete overhaul of your branding and message, consider what you already have and if it’s accomplishing what you imagine it should. Think about your ideal audience, your product, and how you want people to feel when they arrive on your site.
6. Review and Update Your Brand’s Style Guide
The purpose of a style guide when you’re assessing how to redesign a website is to ensure consistency across your website and help your brand’s message continue through the design. It provides your content and visuals with a set of criteria to follow, so when viewers see your logo or think of your company, they immediately connect it to your brand.
It’s important to review and update your style guide before rebranding your website because your designers and writers will lean on it heavily when writing copy, creating content, designing pages, and building many more assets across your new website.
The two main elements of your style guide are:
1. Visual Style Guide
- Color palette
- Logo usage
2. Content Style Guide
- Brand personality and traits
- Brand-specific content copy rules and preferences
- Brand editorial rules – tone of voice, style, and grammar
- How to speak about your brand and use its name
- What NOT to say
7. Complete a Competitive Analysis
Your aim with rebranding is to maximize how well it communicates your overall message to your target audience. For that, you need to know what to say and how to present it.
An excellent way of understanding how your current branding is compares to the rest of the market, and deciding if and how you should update it, is by looking at the leading brands in your market. That’s where a competitive analysis will help you.
Your analysis will highlight any similarities you and your competitors have. But it can also tell you what you need to do differently to stand out from the crowd. This is a key element businesses must know when assessing how to redesign a website.
Your top competitors might be doing something highly effective that you can emulate (interactives, content, UI, CTA placement, etc.) or maybe you can see things they’re doing and decide in advance what you don’t want to implement. Think of competitor analysis as a chance to see your ideas in action before you actually have to design them and put them into action.
Additionally, you can take note of what keywords they’re targeting based on what pages they decide to feature so you can plan your own SEO strategy around what competitors are doing.
8. Get Designing
Before you jump into the design, it’s advisable to create a wireframe. A wireframe is a basic outline of a website’s layout. You can create it using simple black-and-white designs. Its purpose is to give you an easy-to-follow blueprint of each page so you can start planning your rebranding process without getting side-tracked by the numerous design elements involved.
It’ll keep you focused and ensure you’re laying your new branding out in a way that creates an optimal user experience.
Once you have the basics in place, you can start creating full pages. Starting by designing the main elements for your high-impact pages first, such as your home page, then category pages, and including calls to action (CTAs) as you proceed.
9. Start Developing Your Site
Once you’ve finished designing, you can begin developing. In this stage, your web developers will start implementing your design plans to actually build out the site in whatever web-hosting platform you decide to use.
As each page is developed, take the time to ensure a consistent user experience by checking the cross-browser and mobile device functionality and performance. Every page should be reviewed to make sure it aligns with your messaging, is consistent with other pages, and provides the value that you identified during the planning phase.
By being meticulous with feedback, you’ll be confident you have a fully functioning website. It also enables you to catch any problems during the developing stage.
What to Do After Finishing Your Website Redesign
The work doesn’t stop when your site goes live. Consistently updating your site to meet new requirements and trends is an important step in ensuring your site never falls behind, becomes boring, or is in bad graces with Google. Here are some things to look for:
- Google Algorithm Updates: One of the most important aspects of your new site is how it tracks with Google. The algorithm that ranks sites is updated pretty often. It’s critically important that you’re keeping track of these changes and how they affect your own website. Make these changes based on what Google is prioritizing to preserve your top SERP spots and help your site rank up.
- Web Design Trends: As tastes change and technology advances, what users expect in modern web design evolves. What’s cool now might seem outdated later. Make sure you’re keeping track of these changing trends to keep your site from feeling stale, outdated, or boring. When big new features become available, consider adding them. When things fall out of fashion, remove them.
- Industry Trends: Make sure the content on your site is always meeting the current demands of your customers and aligning with what’s hot in your industry. Try to write and feature content that tackles trending topics and make sure your main site pages are always displaying relevant information.
- User Experience Optimization: A healthy website is one that’s driven by data. Analyzing how your users are interacting with your site can show you weak points, dead ends, bad design elements, and what’s working well. Using this data to consistently update your site will eventually lead you to the most optimized version possible. Remember, Google rewards sites that are user-friendly and intuitive, so optimizing your user interface and user experience frequently can be a huge boon for your ranking.
Want to Learn More About How to Redesign a Website?
Learn more about what goes into making an effective online touchpoint for your business. Download Impact’s eBook, What Makes a Quality Website?, to explore design choices, content, UI, and branding strategies that work.