Website Redesign 101

Websites need continuous improvement. Many of our clients come to us with huge traffic volumes but no sales. Others have huge websites, but no traffic. By Remodeling a web site, we are able to bring the entire online presence to the next level, increasing visibility and generating more sales.

My Goal is Always to:

  • Improve the user experience, thus improving conversion rates.
  • Update the company branding when desired.
  • Focus the layout, key words used in the content, and site organization to drive new traffic to the site.

Websites need to be in a process of being constantly redesigned or renovated.

Here’s My Checklist:

What are the successes and failures of your existing site? There are two main areas: the first is the user experience, and the second is the search engine experience.

To evaluate the user experience, gather a few people to give an honest evaluation of your existing site. Brainstorm and analyze the top features that work and the features that don’t work. Then, create a action list of features you would like to have changed, as well as a list of features that you and your customers can’t do without.

To evaluate the search engine experience, visit the search engines and search to see if you are showing up for key word phrases you think people use to find your website. It is also useful to find out how many pages are actually indexed for your site (we like to use the metaphor of a house. If your website is a home, how many rooms does the search engine know about and are they keeping track of all the items in those rooms). For Google (and Froogle), this is simply done by typing in the domain name preceded by “site:” and performing a search, re: On the results page you will see how many pages are indexed and how many links are coming in and out. If only some of the pages or products on your site are indexed then there is work to be done. Another test is to install the Google tool bar and surf through your site. What happens to the page rank as you move through the web site? Is every page at least a page rank of three or above, or do some pages dip below this minimal level? If you find a quick decay in page rank as you move away from your index page, the site layout may need to be modified.

Are there any fresh ideas missing? Sit down with a team composed of both knowledgeable co-workers and people that know nothing about your business or company. As you brainstorm, write down ideas regarding all aspects of the user experience.

Are people coming for information or in need of your company’s product or services? Identify these reasons to clarify exactly how you can target your message and style of layout.

Gather ideas about the latest web design, technology and communication concepts by looking analytically at competitor sites. Notice how they are organizing their information. Is there an element of their website that you have forgotten to include in yours? Is there a way that you can learn from their failures and successes?

Identify your target audience. Decide whom you want to target with the site. Try and get into their shoes and think like they think. What are their needs or points of interest? How can they be served? If you have not done the internet market research already, identify how people find websites in your marketing. What key words are they already using to find companies in your industry? Consider hiring a premium search engine optimization company with a proven record to research the current search market.

What is the mood or emotion that you want to communicate? Write down ten words that describe your desired branding as well as ten words that describe what your website is not. Do you have examples of your brand from your print media including logos? Do these examples match up with your current theme? Do you want them modified for the internet?

When it comes to both people and high search engine ranking optimization, content makes or breaks the web site. People visit your site to read your clear and well-written content. Search engines identify what your content subject and focus is in order to calculate what search terms to use to identify your site. A member of the website design team should be a clear writer with a h4 knowledge of both how to incorporate key words into the text for search engines and how to keep your visiting customers involved and informed. Redesigning requires having several outsiders read your content to see if it is clear, up-to-date, accurate and that it communicates what it is supposed to communicate. When it comes to search engines, the more content the better. Develop a strategy where content can be added regularly. This will keep your current visitors informed as well as allow you to target topics of discussion which will bring new customers to your website.

In the world of Internet Marketing, several factors play into establishing trust and credibility. Is the site professional? Is the content presented in a clear manner? Is the content well organized and easy to access. If there are advertisers on your website, do they distract from the purpose of your page. Flashing and blinking banners are proven to drive customers away quickly. When it comes to how customers find you on the search engines, how well you rank in comparison to your competition plays a big role in developing trust. The higher search engine placement you achieve for your targeted key words, the greater your perceived credibility will be for that topic.

If you have access to your web site statistics or logs, look at your statistics and see if the keywords entered by your visitors are matching the target audiences you have identified. If not, then the redesign needs to help direct the site content, design, and promotion towards the target audience. You may be fooled because you are getting a high number of visitors, but many of them may not be the kind of visitors that are important to your company or organization. Also, hire a search engine optimization specialist to do research on the market for you. What are people looking for and how many pages are already competing for these visitors? How words are stated is very impotant! For example, a website we built targeted the market of “Liver Health” in our research we were shocked. Roughly 9,255 people per month search for the term Liver Health, while 162,995 search for the term Liver Disease. What a difference a word makes.

Are your visitors returning often, and are they spending enough time on your site? Calculate your bounce rate. If your visitors are not returning or they are spending only a few seconds at your site, something is wrong. Good site statistics research will help you know what your visitors are doing and can track not only the bounce rate, but the conversion rate as well. We identify who buys, and then track back to find how they discovered our site and which pages they visited before purchasing. For most of our statistics research, we install IndexTools (find link in our link section to the left).

Do you have a place where visitors can find out what is going on behind the scenes in your company and on your website? Your customers may want to know more about your company and it’s workings. Revealing this can help build trust and credibility. A company newsletter, or short biographies about employees can open up a world of personal connection that allows customers to feel like they are dealing with humans and not automated machines. These tools help customers feel a connection to who is at the heart of your company.

Do your visitors feel they are visiting an active site or one that is old and out of date? Is the content from the early 90′s or from at (central time). Visitors trust companies that update their content frequently. It shows vitality and growth. At the same time, you don’t want to compromise your key word density and navigation layout. Moving pages frequently, or deleting old pages can result in search engines sending visitors to pages that do not exist any more.

Can your visitors exchange information with you through a feedback form, discussion forum, or blog comment page? If you sell a product can the customer find out how the order is progressing and can they track the package as it is shipped? Can he/she easily get a question answered? Can they call you and talk to a human? Do you have a real mailing address? Interacting and getting timely feedback benefits all parties.

If you are selling products, how easily can they find what you have to sell? If you have information for your clients, can they find it? Knowing how your clients react to phrases like, create a profile vs. shipping information can create a huge difference in increasing sales. How many clicks do visitors have to make to purchase an item? Each one brings them that much farther away from purchasing.

From what we have seen, many design companies are one man shows that lack the diversity of thought and experience necessary to accomplish all that is necessary for success in all levels of website development, marketing, and sales. You want to establish what your goals are and put together a team that can make all of the goals come to life. From our perspective, you need:

  • A General Architect that understands your business, your market, the intention of the website, and clearly knows your budget. This person should have access to key word research, market projections, and should be an expert in search engine optimization. He/She should also be a group oriented leader that can rally a top notch team around your project.
  • A Designer who is able to create templates that match your company’s desired brand while being open to group input from the web site architect as well as you, the company project manager / owner.
  • A talented content writer that can inspire your customers to purchase, while incorporating specific key words into the content from your key word research.
  • If you want flash, animation, and interactive graphical presentations, you will need a flash artist on the team who can match the website brand and take the template to the next level.
  • If you will be using shopping carts, database driven web applications, discussion forums, or blog software, you will need an individual that understands the language of these applications, and has the ability to freely adjust them to meet your required needs. This individual will need to be able to make these predominantly search engine challenged applications, search engine optimized.

Most web sites with goals of success will need a long term web site management company that can not only keep the site and content updated, but whom are experts in web site promotion. You will need a long term leader that can manage your link exchange programs, pay per click campaigns, search engine key word marketing, email marketing, link exchange management, affiliate marketing, lead generation, lead management, search engine monitoring and reporting, and provide you with up to date return on investment analysis (ROI). Whether they coach you through the process, or act as a full service web management company, you will need a web site marketing strategy implementation specialist that can guarantee top search engine placement.

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