Website redesigns can become make or break moments for any in-house marketing team or external delivery agency.
Many websites re-launches fail to meet stakeholder expectations or destroy hard-earned digital marketing performance.
But this should never have to be the case.
There are tried and tested best practice approaches discussed in this article which will enable your future web redesign projects to protect marketing performance and satisfy key staff.
So, onto the ‘5 Ways to Avoid Website Redesign Failures’.
#1 – Verify that a Website Redesign is a Right Choice
Frequently site redesigns are scheduled as events.
This may be a bi-yearly freshen up of the brand, site, and offerings.
It may be something more substantial factoring in user behavior refinement, technology change, and structural overhauls.
Either way, you should not overlook the requirement for a redesign sanity check session, planning and evaluation body of work.
As you would expect, the outcome of this should steer any site redesign project.
Typical questions to ask as part of this decision-making process include:
- How is the site performing compared to current digital marketing objectives and KPIs?
- Is the user journey effective?
- Is there evidence of performance degradation compared to previous timeframes?
- How does the site score for technical performance?
- Does the site function as expected on the latest technology?
- What is audience sentiment like for the website?
- Where are people dropping out of the sales funnel? Can this be improved?
- What are website conversion rates like? Has this changed?
- How fast does key content load? How does this compare to the competition and industry standards?
- How does performance differ by marketing channel? Is this consistent with previous benchmarks?
According to my colleague and Creative Account Manager, Lisa Morgan:
Any website needs ongoing maintenance and optimisation as standard, but sometimes more drastic changes are needed. If your inbound marketing efforts are bringing in plenty of targeted, relevant traffic to your website but performance is slipping, chances are you need a website redesign.
Source: ‘Five signs you need a website redesign‘, Vertical Leap, Sept 2019.
#2 – Establish Clear Goals and Measurements for Success
There are many reasons why a website redesign is a right choice and the best time for a business.
Organizational goals change, as do company positioning, services, audience expectations, and many other variants.
What is important is that there are both agreed goals and expectations set for the justification and need of a website change, as well as clarity on how these items are measured and reported on.
Goals should be SMART.
- Specific: Easy to understand. Agreed by all parties. Clearly defined.
- Measurable: A set and communicated way to affirm progress and goal success.
- Achievable: Fair and justified by data.
- Realistic: Relevant and attainable.
- Timely: A defined start and end date with progress deadlines specified.
According to the Corporate Finance Institue:
A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving that goal.
Source: ‘What is a SMART goal?‘, CFI, Oct 2018.
Website goals and objectives can be varied, a few examples may include:
- Increasing average monthly sales by 30% from Organic Search only by June 2020.
- Generate 20% more ‘goal 1 Google Analytics form leads’ from all channels from the /community section by Sept 2020.
- Increase Organic brand only visibility by 50% (from 10k monthly brand Organic impressions per month average) by March 2020.
- Increase landing page entries to ‘target page/URL’ from all channels to 5k sessions per month by Q4 2020.
#3 – Complete a Total Site Audit & Protected Content Plan
Many website redesigns fail solely based on high performing content and digital asset removal.
The leading factor contributing to this is a lack of auditing on current and historical site performance spanning areas such as:
- Traffic and visibility driving content
- Link acquisition assets
- Tools, pages, and digital assets contributing to events and goal completions
- Key stages within the ideal, actual, and impactful user journeys
An output from this will include a prioritized, data-led list of suggested ‘keep’ content to consider limiting changes to revising/keeping/updating without URL or other performance impact changes.
- Even if ultimately content and other assets are removed despite data suggesting otherwise, you can maintain like for like reporting, and clarify expected impact in advance of changes occurring.
#4 – Plan for Pre, During, and Post Launch Actions
There are very specific activities that need to take place before, during, and immediately after a site redesign happens.
On this website there are useful practical examples of these including:
- Checklist for launching new websites
- Overlooked items to check on website launches
- SEO audit items
A few checklist items for a redesign can be seen below:
- 301 redirects for moved content
- Missing image alt text updated
- Robots.txt correct for site structure changes
- XML sitemap updated
- Goal and event tracking in place and correct
- Google Analytics, Google Search Console and other tracking on all pages
- Images optimized and web-ready
- Paid landing pages in place and tracking
- Site operability and functionality testing including micro and macro goal completions
#5 – Put Yourself in the Position of the User
There has to be a real-world sanity check for any key website updates.
Ideally, this will include some level of user testing and feedback into the website project during the build process, and prior to any final decision to ‘go-live’.
You can layer this to factor in information, targeted testing, and broader feedback from:
- Key stakeholders
- Sevice leads / front end staff
- Customers and key accounts
- Brand evangelists
- Live testing (A/B, split, multi-variant)
Inviting non-competing leaders in your space, customers, and other decision influencers to feed into site redesigns helps facilitate this user stage of the approach.
This can also help with the sentiment from these user groups and the building of initial buzz, awareness, and engagement with the new site as it nears launch.
There are many valid reasons to drive forward with website redesign projects, and often they can lead businesses to attain new levels of digital success.
Site redesigns can, however, fail from very specific reasons which can be overcome with added consideration.
This includes the 5 areas discussed in this article:
- Verifying the logic behind the redesign
- Setting clear goals and measurement plans
- Completing a total site audit
- Pre, during, and post site checks
- Placing yourself in the shoes of your users