Website Redesign Guide
How to plan and manage a successful site rebuild process
If you are in business for very long your business will have a need website redesign services. Without a doubt you need the process to go as smoothly as possible. Our website redesign project guide is a tool created to help you understand current best practices, organize information, plan and manage your project.
What this article can do for you
If you are in business for very long your business will have a need to redesign the company website. Whether it is a modernized look or enhanced functionality you need the website redesign process to go as smoothly as possible. We have created this website redesign project guide as a tool to help you understand current best practices, organize information, plan and manage your project to get the best possible outcome.
It’s a lot of work but well worth it!
A website redesign project is a lot of work, especially if it gets piled on top of your normally busy schedule. Our first recommendation is to commit to doing it right, and not try to just get it over with – remember that your success is at stake. Aesthetics are certainly a top consideration but the process is much more involved.
To get optimal benefits from the process you need to consider the user experience, mobile friendly design, website security, technical performance, analytics and creating a strategic presentation of information. A well designed website is much more than a casual collection of pages with words and images.
Depending on variables such as the number of people working on the project, and how many hours are invested each week, a rebuilding a business website can take 2-3 months. Simply rebuilding a site in a responsive design, with no substantial changes to content, can be done in a week or two.
More than likely, your redesign project will demand more than just a quick overhaul to meet current best practices, and search engine preferences. This is especially true if your internet marketing objectives includes competitive search engine rankings.
Here’s Our Website Redesign Project Guide . . .
Where To Start
The person or group that is commissioning this project first needs to designate project manager. The commissioning body should assure that the project manager has the information and resources to manage all aspects of the project. The project manager should be given reasonable authority to make decisions, and should is justified in having expectations of full and timely support from all stakeholders. A determination should be made on manpower for the project; in-house staff, hiring a web design company, etc. A list of people (stakeholders) who should have input on the design and development is very important. A critical task for the project manager is to balance all stakeholder input, and create a site that meets company objectives.
Next you need to decide if the work will be done in-house, or you are going to hire a web design company. (Later in this guide we discuss finding a good vendor.)
About the list of stakeholders
Everybody has an opinion. Usually the opinions are more self-serving than thinking of the big picture. Rarely will any of the people on this list have much of an understanding of internet marketing best practices. While it’s perfectly logical to seek input from stakeholders, beware of allowing any of them to strongly influence on the project. Your entire focus should be about s and give them information that they need, in a manner that.
Assign a Project Manager that can understand the project well enough to manage it. Do not hand off this important project to a low level employee . . . or relative.
Define your objectives. What do you want the end result to be, to do, or look like?
What is motivating the redesign? What do you like and dislike about your current website.
Create a timeline and budget. Are they realistic in relation to your wants and objectives?
If your budget is too low, what parts could be done as a later “Phase II project”?
Make critical updates. What has changed in your business since your last website was created? (i.e., target markets, product or services offered, competitive landscape, distribution channels, etc.)
Freshen up your content. What content do you have now, and what do you need? Is all content accurate and up to date. Ask the appropriate stakeholders to provide current information and corrections. Give them deadlines or you risk missing your project completion date.
Plan your site information architecture. Rough out a list of pages that you think you need with notes summarizing the content to be on the page. Include special requirement such as video content, etc. We recommend using a wire-frame process to design the layout of each page. If you’re using a template or theme for WordPress web design you need to keep in mind the constraints of the particular theme or template.
Managing Technical Services
Your Domain Name (URL): Do not change the domain name which you have been using to host your website. You may want to buy a domain name (other than your company name) for marketing purposes. The new domain name can be “pointed” to your website. It is often a good idea to purchase variations of your URL (.com, .net, .us, etc.) in order to prevent unscrupulous competitors from leveraging your company’s name and reputation. We recommend taking advantage of new top level domains (TLD) names. For example, there is now a “.marketing” domain so we purchased “eplatform.marketing” and “tigerseo.marketing”
Domain Management: During the redesign and rebuild process you may need to manage settings on your domain name. Use the following to record your account information:
Registrar Name: _________________________ Account # _______________________________
Login Name: ____________________________ Login Password:__________________________
Hosting Management: You will need access to your existing web hosting to pull a backup of your existing site, and upload your new website. Ask your hosting provider if your current hosting is adequate for your new sites. (There are many sites still on outdated hosting servers.) If you change your hosting service you may need to manage MX records to keep your email flowing. Use the following to record your account information:
Hosting Provider: _____________________________ Account # ___________________________
Login Name: _________________________________ Login Password: _____________________
Website Security: If your site is an e-commerce website there will be additional information needs such as SSL certificate, payment gateway, merchant account, etc. Google now prefers every website to utilize SSL so this should be one of your project tasks.
Site Design Process – Styling & Layouts
Color selections are very critical. Colors should be appropriate for the target audience. In most every case you should avoid wild color schemes and stay within a “normal” color palette. Your Agency can assist you with exact color selections if you have only a general idea. Websites require a color format known as a Hex Color. Your website designer can cross reference CMYK, RGB and PMS color numbers to maintain an existing color scheme. A great place to get color scheme ideas is at the Adobe Kuler website. Make notes on the hex colors you desire:
Your main navigation bar should contain links to the primary pages or sections of your website. A site with a large number of pages will probably require a menu with a drop-down functionality. We recommend J-Query menus for their polished look and cross browser friendliness. We do not recommend Flash menus as they do not work in all browsers or mobile devises. The number of pages on your website will determine the best option for your situation. Your logo should be a clickable link to your Home page, and preferably placed in the upper left corner of the page.
If search engine ranking is important to you it is very important to create a site navigation based on a site information architecture that groups content into “silos” (clusters of relevant content).
The look and feel of your website is impacted by basic style elements including font styles, font sizes, and intangibles defined by adjectives that you provide. Browsers, and personalized computer settings, may limit or override your chosen font style. Special fonts can be used in graphics however body copy should be limited to standard fonts such as Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Times New Roman, etc. For a more customized look, you can explore Google Fonts to find some stylish new fonts. Body copy should be a minimum size of 13px, and preferably high contrast between font color and backgrounds.
List any special font requirements here: ______________________________________________________________________________
Your text content should be organized into “silos” for logical presentation of services, products, etc. Your content should be clear and concise. Web surfers scan more than read. Where it’s appropriate, use bullet points in your body copy.
Minimize the use of industry jargon unless your website users are almost exclusively involved in your industry or profession. Carefully proofread all content! Typos, poor grammar and punctuation have a negative impact on engagement and optimization.
Use effective Calls-To-Action (CTA) to increase conversions. Use strategic intra-site page linking for usability and search engine optimization.
Have foreign language speaking customers? A great option is to add the free Google Translator tool to each page, or get serious about website localization and create versions of your website with fully translated pages. If you create foreign language versions, be sure to use the proper DocType so that search engines can confirm the language which is presented.
Don’t use them . . .ever.
Photos & Images
Agency provided images should be licensed images from stock image providers such as iStockphoto.com or 123rf.com, and should NEVER be “scraped” from the internet. Many stock image vendors now request adding visible attribution on your site.
Clients providing images should make certain that the images do not violate any copyright laws, privacy issues, confidentiality agreements or security requirements. Certain photos may require a client to obtain a “model release form” to use the likeness of any persons.
Any photos provided to the Agency should be original photos in electronic form when possible, electronic files in .png, .jpg or .gif formats. Your Agency will probably need to losslessly compress images to reduce file sizes, crop them for specific placements, and make image quality adjustments.
Videos can greatly enhance a sites message and you have options to display videos. For several videos you should utilize a video player with a thumbnail scroll, for a single image you can simply embed the video on the site. When multiple videos are available it definitely makes sense to create a custom YouTube channel to promote your videos. All videos should be optimized for search engine optimization.
Flash is outdated and should not be used . . . ever.
Hello 2005. Audio content alone is usually not a good idea unless it is provided for visually impaired users. This includes background music. Consider a person doing personal web surfing at work and without any warning their computer speakers blast out music or a message such as “welcome to the DUI attorney site of . . . “ – you probably won’t get that customer.
Download Content & Forms
Downloadable content and contact form are common parts of a business website. Forms such as online quote requests may require development of a database and development (this will increase your project costs). Keep form design to a minimal number of fields. Longer forms make for a tedious process, and it increase page abandonment rates. Your download content should be in PDF formats. Optimize your PDF files as they can be indexed and show on search results pages – yet another way to reach prospect.
List any required forms or download content: _______________________________________________________________________________
_____ Google Search Console _____ Google Tags Manager _____ Google Analytics
_____ Social Media Links _____ Live Chat _____ Map & Directions Link _____
_____ Site Verifications (Google, Bing, Alexa, Norton, Yandex) _____ Geo Meta Tags
Website Coding & Platforms
Your new site should use responsive coding to create a mobile friendly website. We recommend HTML or WordPress. We do not recommend Joomla, Intuit, or any similar “Site Builder” programs. For large corporate sites you may get better results using Drupal, Ruby on Rails, or even Site Core.
A well-qualified agency can serve as a consultant, and protect you from making costly errors. Giving the project to a relative, friend, or freelancer will almost always take far longer than expected, and result in unbelievably bad results.
Look at their portfolio Does every site look too much alike? Is their diversity in their portfolio? Have they worked with other businesses in your industry, or of your size?
Business Experience – Real world business knowledge and experience matters as much or more than just technical skills. You need an agency that understands sales, marketing channels and how business is done. If you hire a group that is all about technology, you’re going to do a lot of hand holding, have to write all of your copy and generally guide them like a bunch of school kids.
Technical Proficiency – Being able to upload a WordPress theme, then add words and pictures does not demonstrate a deep set of technical skills. Demonstrating a proficiency in search engine optimization, fine tuning of coding for performance improvements, and managing security issues are things you need to confirm..
Think about your current and future needs for internet marketing. You will be ahead of the curve if you hire an agency that provides internet marketing services. Firstly, it makes a smooth transition from site launch to site promotion. Second, the web design company can plan ahead and build in things that will benefit your business.
A few things comments on working with your agency . . .
. . . Listen to your Agency and rely on their expertise.
. . . Set reasonable expectations and be flexible.
. . . Give your Agency clear and complete information in a timely manner.
. . . Take a few minutes after the project to give your Agency reviews on Google, etc.
. . . Neglect your project and make it a low priority. Stay engaged and enthusiastic!
. . . Continually increase your scope-of-work and expect the extra work to be free.
. . . Give inappropriate merit to comments from friends and family. Listen to your agency.
. . . Forget that your Agency is on your side, and wants your project to be successful.
We hope that this FREE TOOL will help you to achieve a successful outcome with less hassles and errors. When you’re ready to move forward we would appreciate an opportunity to provide a free quote. Call us at 770-429-5300 or Contact Us Online.
E-Platform Marketing, LLC
109 Anderson Street
Marietta, GA 30060