Planning strategies for your website redesign

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I recently released our latest e-book “Small Tweaks, Big Impact Websites” and I’ve been encouraged by the feedback being received. It’s been interesting to see how small-business owners have looked at the strategies that’s outlined in the e-book and adapted them to suit their needs.

For many it’s been a key first step in planning how they are going to approach a website redesign. As the e-book explains, it’s perfectly fine to skim content, skip some steps and adapt the processes to suit your needs. Here’s a few strategies taken from the e-book.

Interviewing stakeholders

Large corporations have a number of stakeholders, so planning a website redesign can be quite complex for them. The interview questions that a marketing team can ask these stakeholders are generally broken down into four categories:

  1. What’s the purpose of this project? Why are you redesigning your website? It’s important that all your stakeholders understand the purpose.
  2. Who is our target audience? Your website needs to be centred on your users, but that can’t be possible if you aren’t sure what market you’re targeting. You aren’t your customer, so your insights and perspective on your users’ needs may be incomplete.
  3. How do we define success? Each stakeholder has their own idea of what success looks like. It’s your responsibility to discover what this is. It could be high-level usability metrics such as conversions or task completions. It could also be something unquantifiable, such as branding.
  4. What’s been decided so far? Every project has limits, and your web redesign isn’t any different. You have to be aware of the factors you can’t control, such as the budget and the targeted launch date of your new website.

A marketing team working for a large corporation won’t complete this process quickly. In contrast, a small business team should be able to answer most of these questions over a couple of solid meetings and a coffee or pizza.

Auditing content

Interviewing your stakeholders is all about discovering the parameters of your project. The same can be said of the content audit. You need to assess what content is already on your website, creating a master list. The master list should tell you what current content needs reworking, what needs to be thrown out, and whether you need additional content. The master list will help you determine how you can structure your content more effectively.

If you’re building a content-rich website, create a series of silos, hierarchy or categories for your content. Your small business website may not need such sophisticated silos if you only have a few pages. For content-rich websites, consider these guidelines when completing your content audit:

  1. Always start your content audit with high-level pages, namely the pages featured at the top of your navigation menu structure.
  2. Take a closer look at the content grouped within these high-level pages. Is there a logical way to create subgroups for your content?
  3. Repeat the first two steps until you’ve drilled down to each specific page for your website. Once you’ve exhausted this process, you’ve reached the maximum detail level for your content audit.

Most of the time, you’ll find the biggest content group of your website is your blog; that is, if your website has a blog. When auditing your site content, do check the categories within your blog and see if you need to rework them to better align with your main web page content structure.

Website usability evaluation

Evaluate your current website before redesigning to see what elements may be worth keeping and refining, and what should be completely overhauled. You can use a variety of frameworks to check your website usability. There are four key areas that large corporations often use:

  1. Contextual recognition. Users should recognise design elements quickly. For instance, there are common icons that have become easily recognised, such as the magnifying glass referring to ‘search’ or the hamburger menu for navigation. Your user experience will be easy and even enjoyable if users don’t have to think too hard when navigating your website.
  2. Minimalist look. Large corporations prefer clean, content-focused design, because research has revealed users like their UX to be simple. Website users typically find flashy websites to be confusing, if not frustrating. It’s not by accident that Uplift 360 has adopted a minimalist approach on our website. The clean look and abundance of whitespace on the homepage present simple, distraction-free choices.
  3. Consistency. Consistency is essential for a website to be considered user-friendly. This means all the elements on your website behave in a similar fashion across all pages and all devices whenever possible. Some things may change slightly for the sake of usability, such as the PC version of your website having a regular text menu, while the mobile version has a hamburger menu instead.
  4. User control. Users should be able to control how they use and experience your website. When they visit sections of your website that they find relevant, they shouldn’t encounter unnecessary barriers. More importantly, they should have the power to backtrack their decision in the middle of any given process, such as your website’s ecommerce checkout. Online consumer expectations change quickly; it’s best to hire an expert who has years of web design experience to do this task for you (insert shameless self promotion here).

I encourage you to download “Small Tweaks, Big Impact Websites” today to find out more about the User Experience (UX) hacks that could work for your website.