Perhaps you are thinking about an update to your website, but are not convinced there are enough benefits to justify the cost. Website design, technology, and strategy have advanced in such a way that your web presence can be optimized over time, create a return on investment, and open up new lead capturing opportunities.
You need only look at the following two statistics to begin to understand the ways in which the landscape of websites has changed over the course of only a few years. Mobile devices now account for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online and between December 2013 and December 2015, desktop internet consumption dropped by 1%. The way people use the web is changing, but has your site responded?
In this post, we will review some of the ways in which a website redesign can benefit you and your company beyond the obvious.
1. Improved SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about evolving with the search engines and the ways people search. The goal of SEO is to rank as high as possible so that you can engage with potential consumers during their decision-making process about a service or product. SERP, or search engine response pages, are what we receive back from a search engine when we put in a search term. SERPs are constantly evolving to best serve their searches and the way that they are looking for information. To visualize how this has changed over time you can check out this infographic. Overall, you can expect 500-600 changes per year in the way the Google algorithm processes search. While most of these changes are minor, it gives you a sense of the scale of search engine evolution and helps to illustrate the importance of keeping your website up to date.
With the movement towards mobile, “natural language search” has gained prominence. This type of search mimics the way that we would normally speak and is a result of using tools like Siri and voice search to find what we are looking for on the web. In 2015 alone, voice searches went from accounting for a marginal number of searches to 10% of all online searches. This type of search has shifted the emphasis off of ranking for specific keywords and onto working towards ranking for topics and keyword clusters around those topics.
While SEO faux pas can be improved through slight adjustments to your website’s copy or small tweaks in code, other problems are more deeply ingrained. Your website redesign is an opportunity to update all things SEO and get rid of outdated code that is bogging you down. By using this website grading tool, you can get a general idea of where you have room for improvement on your site.
Understanding the importance of evolving with SEO, you can see that it is integral to maintain your website on an ongoing basis. Some fixes to consider are as follows:
Improve your page loading which has twofold benefits for SEO and UX
Update your sitemap and fill in gaps
Integrate responsive web design to perform well on all mobile devices (for more in-depth reading on how responsive design is giving way to a new way of thinking about the website-device relationship called "adaptive design," read on here)
Revamp your copy to include keywords and natural language search terms
Incorporate more high-quality content on your site for increased traffic.
These represent just a few overarching categories where you can improve your SEO during your redesign. Don’t let these be the constraints, let them be a starting point for continual improvement.
2. Fresh Design
Your redesign is a chance to revamp your website. It is a virtual facelift of sorts. With your redesign, you have an opportunity to evaluate current design trends and make decisions about which will be best for your needs. Learn more about incorporating marketing trends in your branding in our blog post, Contextualizing Marketing Trends Within Your Brand Framework.
While it is nice to have a sleek design, do not let this goal be the only one that dictates your site. There are numerous other aspects of the site you should think about.
Consider conversions: Are there actionable and clear paths for your users to move from being visitors to contacts? Aspects of your design that can promote conversion include:
Specific color usage
You can use a/b testing to figure out what colors, images, text, and navigation work best for your audience.
Use calculated whitespace: The same way artists use elements of art theory to move your eye across a painting, you can use white space to guide your user’s attention where you want it on the website. Think of whitespace as a means for highlighting content or elements of your site that you hope your viewers will see. The use of whitespace:
Leverage grids and the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds advocates splitting visual designs into equal thirds horizontally and vertically to create nine equal rectangles that will build a grid. Using this sort of design guideline will allow you to create balance on your website’s pages. A thorough explanation of this design rule can be found here.
These represent only a few of the many design considerations that should play a role in the decisions you make about your website.
High-quality design will employ these tools and thereby signify to the user a level of technical prowess. A clean website that uses the rule of thirds and white space will be much more user-friendly than a cluttered page. This will have a positive impact on your user’s perception of your website.
3. Improved User Experience
A large part of design is user experience, both on the frontend and the backend. How do your internal and external users interact with your website? Your redesign is an opportunity to improve upon the way people navigate your site. You can use data to inform your design decisions regarding both front and backend user experience. Ask yourself questions like:
Where do my users spend their time?
What colors do they respond to?
How long are they on my current website?
What pages do they most frequently drop off on?
Is the format intuitive?
Is it easy for content to be added from the backend or in the form of comments on the front-end?
Answering these questions with data will help you make informed design decisions that will augment user experience for the front and backend.
Although making it easier for your backend users to add content will ultimately benefit the front end user, emphasis should ultimately be placed on your customer experience. Provide them with a clear journey on the website and make sure that they have access to other touchpoints for your brand like your social channels and contact information.
While making your UX decisions, don’t miss out on basic functionality, almost always simplicity trumps complexity. Occam’s razor is a famous principle that states, “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” Occam’s theory advocates for simplicity as long as necessity does not merit complexity. This should theory can be applied to user experience where simplicity should always be considered the best means of achieving and end.
4. Better Backend
While we began to cover this in the user experience section, a solid backend merits its own section. How will you maintain content, update your pages, or improve your site if the backend is inaccessible or counterintuitive? Your website redesign is an opportunity to make a better backend for your internal team.
A better backend means a more productive and effective marketing team— no matter what way you look at it.
While a better backend always leads to a more efficient team, many people controlling websites have concerns about backend accessibility. Who can access what information? How much editing power should the marketing team have? You can answer these questions and manage permissions to your comfort level.
Permissions can be easily managed, especially in content management systems with higher levels flexibility. Drupal, for example, makes it easy to create restricted editing for decentralized organizations. With the Workbench suite of modules, you can set up extensive editorial permissions so that different departments within your organization can access their portion of the website, without gaining access to those of other departments.
Certain content management systems lend themselves to more customizable functionalities. When using Drupal especially, there is an opportunity for flexibility. Check out this post on two popular open source CMS options to understand more about backend usability.
5. Stronger Security
Breaches are not only embarrassing for your brand, but they also cause headache and hassle. When breaches occur, customers lose trust in your brand and your ability to keep their information safe. Updated websites have better security and can help you avoid the embarrassment of a breach.
If your website hasn’t been updated in 2-3 years, then there is probably room for improved security. Your redesign is a chance to make that happen. Your new website should include the latest security updates. If you also engage in ongoing web management services you should have a conversation with the agency about what sort of security measures they will have in place and how often they make updates.
One of the benefits of working in an open source CMS is that you have a whole team of people constantly working to fix security holes. You can read more about how that works here. With other types of CMS options, you should be sure to ask questions about security updates before migrating.
Your Website Redesign: More than a Virtual Makeover
An update to your site, as you can see, is more than just a virtual makeover. There are added benefits to taking your old site into the future. To begin defining and laying out your redesign goals check out our ebook.