Author Jeff

Date: June 18, 2018

How To Plan For An Effective Full Website Redesign

On average 3/4 brands aren't happy with their website redesign. We think that sucks.

There are a lot of reasons why you may be considering a website redesign. Your company may have rapidly grown or changed. You may be losing market share to a competitor. Hell, your website may just be so old that it’s making the brand look bad.

For most, the process of completely redesigning a website is an absolutely monumental and daunting task.

Have you gone through a website redesign in the past that didn’t end up the way you wanted to?

Maybe functionality didn’t match up with what you were looking for. Or perhaps the design wasn’t flexible enough to withstand the growth of your organization. Maybe the business goals you meant to meet weren’t fully met. Or even worse, business goals regressed with the redesign.

Going through the process of redesigning a website is time and money intensive. Coming out the other end feeling less than fantastic shouldn’t be the case, but it happens a lot more frequently than you would think.

According to “The Science of Website Redesign” a HubSpot study of more than 200 website redesign projects:

  • 32% of marketers are unhappy with their last redesign
  • 47% of SMB website redesigns are late
  • And 51%+ of redesigns run over budget

Only 24% of clients are extremely happy with their results!

 

How To Make My Website A Success Story?

So this begs the question: How do you become the 24% of customers that are extremely happy with their results?

In this article, we’ll be providing you with helpful planning worksheets, defining the anatomy of a successful website,  digging into the stages of a redesign and what to expect within each stage, and discussing how to effectively vet options for executing the innovative website redesign.

Post Summary

  1. Why Website Redesigns Fail
  2. The Anatomy Of An Effective Website
  3. How To Establish Effective Project Goals
  4. How To Gather Some Basic Website Data
  5. Organizing Your Resources
  6. Budgeting For An Effective Solution
  7. How & Where To Choose The Right Company

 

CHAPTER 1

Why Website Redesigns Fail

As you could imagine, there are a lot of reasons why a website redesign would fail to be successful. Before we get into how to create a highly successful website, we should identify the most common reasons why we see website redesigns fail.

The KPIs were never defined well enough

If you’re not familiar with the term, KPI stands for Key Performance Indicators. These are smaller, more granular goals that should be achieved in order to define success.

Often times, companies will approach redesigns with broad goals like: “I want to look better” or “get more leads”. Those are fine goals to work towards, but you need to dig into what those overarching goals mean, and how they can be measured. For instance, often times, when you say you “want to look better,” what you mean, is:

  • I want to visually represent my brand in the most effective and attractive way possible
  • I want my brand to be recognizable and distinguishable
  • I want my customers to come away with a positive experience

Breaking down the overarching goal of “I want to look better” into some smaller bits starts to give us a better idea of how we can then measure these actions. This particular example is difficult to measure with raw metrics, however, qualitative tests and surveys can be created around these items and used as part of the ideation process to ensure goals are met.

Too much focus on technology, not enough focus on strategy

A website is a giant piece of technology, so technology has to be the main focus, right?

Not really. Technology is the conduit, but at the end of the day, if you’re a business, your website is serving a business purpose.

We often find ourselves in conversations where platform or tech stack is being brought up before business goals, and it’s absolutely the wrong way to approach things.

Don’t start your processing worrying about WordPress vs Drupal or Shopify vs Magento.  Instead, focus on things like:

  • What purpose does this website serve?
  • Where is my organization today, and where is it going tomorrow?
  • What capabilities does my organization have to ensure this website continues to be successful over time?

Defined business goals and a strategy to execute them should always come first. Technology should then match the accompanying strategy and goals.

If you find yourself talking to a web development company for a redesign, and they don’t focus on your business and project goals in the early conversations run far, far away.

Inadequate Budget

I’m going to be pretty blunt about this: If you’re approaching a full website redesign with less than $10,000, you’re setting yourself up to have a disappointing end result.

Your website budget needs to be able to effectively cover strategy, design, development, on-site SEO optimization, licenses, copywriting, visual asset creation, project management, and quality assurance. You may also require things like photography, videography, and 3D modeling to really showcase your brand in its most effective light.

These things require various professionals with diverse backgrounds to be executed well.

When budgets are too low, corners get cut. Less time will be spent on the project, JR staff may be utilized in place of more experienced personnel, stock templates / assets will be used etc.

The end result may be something slightly better on the surface level, but overall not what you needed to achieve your business goals.

 

Alright, so enough with the negative. Avoiding the things mentioned above, how else can we ensure that we’re on the right track with our website redesign?

 

CHAPTER 2

The Anatomy of an Effective Website

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, effective websites always nail these basic principles:

Messaging

Your site copy—that is, the text on your website—should be compelling, engaging, and persuasive. Your ultimate goal is to convert your site visitors into customers, so this is what your message should be aimed at. Your copy should be easy to read, broken up into bite-sized chunks, and it should deliver your value proposition immediately.

One of the most important (and sometimes costly) aspects of your site design will be the copywriting. Investing in a good copywriter could mean the difference between success and failure – and it will have nothing to do with your product. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but if you aren’t communicating its value properly, who’s going to buy it?

Structure

Your site structure is just about as important as any other element of the site design. It should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Your best-selling items should be right up front. Put yourself in the visitor’s seat for a moment: if you were landing on your site for the first time, would you be inclined to stay? Click around? Read a blog? These are the things that your site structure should encourage.

Summing up, an effective website has a lot of moving parts, but they all come together to help you accomplish one thing – conversions. If online sales are important to your company, you owe it to yourself to invest in a site that is going to do that for you.

Identity / Design

Great web design does a lot more than just look good; it tells your prospective customers what you are like to do business with. If your site is difficult to navigate, confusing, or disorganized, that is how you will come across.

If your brand is how the world perceives you, your brand personality, or identity, is the sum total of all the elements that you have created to present a certain image to your customers. It speaks to why you are doing what you do as well as your beliefs, your personality, your voice, and how you are different from your competitors.

As for design, clean and uncluttered is always best. Your site design should highlight and support your brand identity, your values, and it should reflect the expectations of your ideal customer.

Funnels

Sales funnels are essential to an effective customer buying journey. A well-crafted funnel will not only improve conversions on your site, it will also save you a lot of time by automating repetitive tasks – time that could be better spent qualifying, and earning new business leads.

Funnels are based on strategic messaging. There are several channels involved, including email messaging, landing pages, and deliverable content.

Trust

Online, as in life, trust is something that is earned. You earn trust by being transparent, truthful, and honest in how you do business. However, if you don’t put some effort into showing people how trustworthy you can be, they may never know.

Developing trust online is multi-layered. It is partly a matter of leveraging your best testimonials and reviews, and it is part accessibility. In other words, you need to be where your customers can find you. Maintaining your social accounts, keeping your website up-to-date, and taking control of all your online listings is a good place to start. If you are able to control the messaging, you are already one step ahead.

Do good business, encourage your customers to write positive reviews and endorsements, and respond to all reviews whether they are positive or not. Your willingness to respond and your accessibility goes a long way towards developing trust.

Conversions

Ultimately, your B2B website needs to do one thing: convert site visitors into customers. Whether that means getting them to buy while they are on the site or engage with you in some other way—sign up for a free trial, request a demo, download a piece of content—these are all steps toward a conversion.

Your site needs to be optimized for conversions, with compelling CTAs and content that lead the customer to take action.

 

CHAPTER 3

How To Establish Effective Project Goals

Ok, so now that you know what not to do, and what to aim for, let’s start getting into the nitty-gritty of things.

Let’s take a brief moment to look at this graphic.

As you can tell, the strategy is the foundation of this process, but “strategy” is a pretty broad term. What does it mean? We define strategy as the plan of action for the website to accomplish tangible business goals.

Defining Larger Goals

In order to start to create a solid strategy, it’s typically good practice to define a set of goals and work backward.

We like to look at goals from a few different perspectives that relate to various aspects of the redesign:

  • Business Goals
  • Marketing Goals
  • Technology Goals

Examples of business goals could be:

  • Increase sales
  • Earn 100 new customers
  • Reduce customer service requests

Examples of marketing goals could be:

  • Increase the number of leads generated by the website
  • Decrease bounce rate on the home page
  • Improve average time on site

Examples of technology goals could be:

  • Increase website security
  • Improve the usability of the back-end interface
  • Ability to create landing pages with ease

Aligning Your Larger Goals

Business goals and marketing goals must be aligned in order to produce an effective end-result. Technology goals should lend to marketing and Business goals but have room to vary into broader areas.

Once you’ve defined what these goals are to you, you should break each one into smaller KPI’s that can be measured against the goal.

Here’s a helpful article on how you can better define actionable KPIs for your business.

 

CHAPTER 4

How To Gather Some Basic Website Data

If your websites in a place where you already have analytics and goal tracking in place this will be an easy step for you, if it’s not you may need to spend some time, and possibly a little money on your current website to accomplish this.

You’ve already established that your current website needs to go – why spend more money on it? Hear me out for a second here.

If you start this process without any sort of a baseline to measure against, you won’t ever really know if the endeavor has been successful. This process will ensure that you at least have your starting point solidified.

What You Should Do & Set-up

Google Analytics – Google Analytics is pretty much the go-to analytics systems for most small-to-midsized businesses. There’s a lot of documentation out there on how to get the most out of it, and there are also plenty of professionals out there willing to help you get it set up.

At a minimum, you should have the tracking script installed on your website and some basic events set up to track form submissions, e-mail clicks, and phone number clicks. This will give you an idea of how many people are interacting with your website on a day-to-day basis and how your customers prefer to contact you. If you’re interested in doing this yourself, Google provides tons of great information on how to get started, otherwise, we suggest reaching out to a freelancer.

HotJar – HotJar is a popular heat mapping tool. It allows you to observe how users are interacting with your website through screencaps and videos. There’s an art to truly understanding what this stuff means but it can provide even inexperienced people with some good insights as to how their websites being used. You can sign up for a free copy of it here and learn more about how to use the tool here.

Organizing The Data

After you’ve gathered your data, make sure you take the time to store the results somewhere. We like to suggest to our clients to use the S.M.A.R.T sheet from Hubspot. Not only does it allow you to record your data, but it gives you some goals along with it. You can download a copy of it here.

 

CHAPTER 5

Organizing Your Resources

Taking stock of the internal resources you have available from the very beginning of the project is crucial. You need to know how much worker bandwidth you have to dedicate to the project, and over what periods of time.

With this knowledge, outline your plan for time-based deliverables and time-related budgets for each step of the process.

Make sure you complete the budgeting for the entire project at once so you can look out for problem areas and make sure you don’t come up short in the end.

At a minimum, you should be focused on preparing resources for:

  • Content Writing
  • Visual Design
  • Front + Back-end Development
  • 3rd Party Integrations
  • Visual Asset Creation
  • On-site SEO

Chances are you’ll have the ability to execute on some of these items well in-house (content writing, visual asset creation, on-site SEO), but may need to look outside for help regarding visual design or web development. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your organization to take ownership of and what you’ll need outside assistance with.

 

CHAPTER 6

Budgeting For An Effective Solution

Website budgets vary wildly. So wildly it can be really confusing for someone to figure out why there’s such a difference between one vendor and the next.

We’ve written a few articles on how to budget for your e-commerce project, or how much a B2B website should cost that go into much greater detail than we will in this article. Feel free to check them out.

As a quick summary, however, your budget should be focused on these factors:

  • What will anticipated value this website bring (Look to your business goals for this)?
  • What can I do myself (Look to your resources for this)?
  • What’s the size of my organization?

Like any other service-based business, web design & development pricing mainly comes down to time vs cost. When we’re creating pricing for our clients, we’re anticipating their needs vs the amount of time it will take us to execute it. The main variables amongst vendors come down to an hourly rate and perceived execution time.

If your website’s main goal is to drive increased sales, it will typically require more strategy and planning than something that’s just simply a showcase. (And to be perfectly frank, you should never just be “building a showcase”)

If you’re able to handle items like content writing and visual asset creation in-house, you’ll most likely be trimmed down a lot of production service hours.

If you have a larger organization (>10Mil/year in revenue) you’ll most likely have more moving parts that need to be considered. More moving parts = more time.

At the end of the day, you want to ensure that your budget is large enough that you can add real value to your online presence. An extra $10-20K up front may seem like an astronomical difference, but can often be easily mitigated through the new business the site will bring in.

Understanding your lifetime customer value before speaking to vendors is critical so you know what to anticipate in return from the exercise.

WONDERING WHAT YOUR PROJECT WILL COST?

Quit Waiting. Use Our Project Calculator

GET YOUR QUOTE

 

How To Calculate Customer Value

Your customers are extremely valuable, but do you know how valuable they actually are? This infographic from Kiss Metrics does an amazing job of breaking down the lifetime value of Starbucks customers. The principles it shares can be applied to every business.

Source, Kissmetrics.com

 

CHAPTER 7

Finding The Right External Partners

There are literally hundreds of thousands of professionals out there that can build websites. How do you find the right external partner to work with?

Finding The Right Vendor Can Be A lot Like Dating

It may sound silly but it’s true.

Sometimes you may just find the right one and fall head over heels for them. Other times, you may need to go on a bunch of dates before something clicks.

The things you need to focus on are matches in personality, focus, and capability.

Personality – You’re going to be working with this company closely for a long time. It’s important that you like the people you’re working with. No successful relationship starts with distrust for the other partner. Ideally, you’re going to want to look for a company that gets what you’re all about and in some ways, actually emulates that within their own organization.

Focus – Ideally, you’re going to want to find someone who not only can “build websites” but has had proven success in your area of expertise, or in a very similar area of expertise. These individuals have already proven that they can accomplish the challenges you’ve faced, so theoretically, they will be able to more easily solve those challenges for you than a partner with no prior experience.

Capability – I put capability last for a reason. Lots of organizations will have the technical capabilities you need, but the first two items are more important. That being said, it is important that the company you choose to partner with has experience with your target platform, or, experience with a viable platform you’re willing to work with.

If you start speaking with vendors and they immediately start talking about their technical prowess or awards instead of asking you questions about your goals, challenges, or overall strategy, run away. Far away.

Find A Size Match

It’s a pretty simple concept, but sometimes it goes overlooked. Making broad generalizations, if you’re a smaller company you’ll require a simpler solution than a larger company. There are exceptions to this rule of course, which I’ll identify in each section.

When outsourcing your website redesign, there are a few different avenues you can go down:

  • Freelancers
  • Small to Medium Agencies / Companies
  • Large Agencies / Companies

Here are our suggestions on who you should be speaking to:

Companies <3Mil/year in revenue – If you’re a startup without serious financial backing, or making less than 3 million annually, it probably will make the most sense for you to partner with several talented Freelancers to redesign your website. Websites like 99Designs can be great for finding a designer with a narrower budget. Upwork can be a great source for a variety of different talent.

The exception – If you have a very high-value product or service, or, your business is highly unique, you should most likely consider a small, specialized agency to execute on your solution.

Companies 3-15 Mil/year in revenue – If your company is making $3-15 Mil/year in revenue you should most likely partner with a smaller agency (5-20 people) over a freelancer. Overall, a small agency should be able to provide you with more cohesion than several separate freelancers which will be important to your overall brand trust. The benefit is that in theory, the smaller agency should be able to execute for less than a larger agency.

The exception – If your business complexities are minimal, you may be able to get away with freelancers to execute on the project. You’ll just have to make sure things are defined really, really well.

Companies 15-50 Mil/year in revenue – If your company is making $15-50 Mil/year in revenue you should most likely consider a small to medium-sized agency (15-40 people) to tackle your website redesign. At this stage, your company has most likely incorporated business software and more sophisticated processes that require some care and thoughtful planning to organize. Cohesiveness in design will also be paramount to help get you to the next level, so you’ll need an organized team that can execute on various aspects of the project.

Companies >50 Mil/year in revenue – If your company is making >$50 Mil/year in revenue you should most likely consider a larger agency (50+ people) to tackle your website redesign. Progressing in growth will require a great deal of strategy and thought. Agencies of this size have gained more specialized personnel amongst the main categories of strategy, design, and development, which can help identify opportunities at a more granular level.

The exception – A small-to-medium sized agency can also be a really strong candidate if their personality, focus, and capabilities are on-point.

 

Talk To Existing Customers

Talk to a few of your prospects existing customers, but come prepared with some questions to ask (don’t worry, we got you). Chances are, you’ll be talking to someone who’s having a great experience, but the goal is to get a better understanding of how they’re working with this client. From there, you’ll be able to get a better sense of whether or not that working arrangement will work for you.

Check Third Party Websites

Websites such as Clutch, Upcity, and 10best all exist to help vet and rank companies in the web design & development space. See if your vendor has a profile in those places and how they’re doing.

 

Wrapping Up

Undergoing a website redesigns a difficult task no matter how large, or small your company is. Making sure you follow an approach where you’re educating yourself, establishing clear goals, and vetting out the right partner can help ensure your organization is part of the 24% who truly love their redesigned website.

Summary Of Referenced Resources

How to define KPIs

Learn More About Google Analytics

Get Hotjar

Learn More About Hotjar

S.M.A.R.T Worksheet

How To Budget For An Ecommerce Website

 

If you’re interested in redesigning your website and would like to speak with someone from the Huemor team, please give us a call at 631-393-6116 or fill out our contact form.

 

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