Does your company's website need a redesign? - 3 steps to answer the big question.
If you’re in a marketing leadership position or run your own business yourself, your company’s website is something like an office building; you don’t often think about it but you’re conscious of it every day, especially when something is not working correctly.
In some cases leaving your website alone is the right approach but like an office building if you neglect it too long you’re going to have major problems on your hands that will require a lot more of your attention all at once than if you had focused on it continually. That being said, websites do “spoil” over time. Your brand evolves as you understand your customer better or begin offering new services. Messaging and design trends change and suddenly your website looks like it was built in the early 2000s compared to your competition. Or perhaps it was the company’s first iteration of the website and finally you have the time and resources to really tackle and make it work for your marketing strategy.
Whatever the case, rebuilding a website is a big task and not one to take lightly so here is a guide to help you both evaluate and prepare for the experience. The goal is to help you create a website that you can easily update and maintain with a clear goal as a part of your marketing strategy with measurable results.
Step One: Evaluate your website.
Don’t assume it’s out of date, evaluate and document why it needs an overhaul and make sure the reasoning is as objective as possible.
Do goals and KPIs exist for the website already or is it simply an informational site that was built to because, well, every business needs a website, right?
If goals exist and are actively being tracked, review those goals and make sure they still make sense for the business today or…
If goals do not exist, take the time to establish them with your leadership and team
A website should be seen as a large part of your marketing strategy so it must do its part towards your overall marketing goals. If you don’t have objectives established for the site, how do you know if it needs an overhaul and worst, if you can’t measure progress towards those goals, how do you know your return on investment?
Once you have these goals updated or in place you can more objectively look at your website to determine what it needs to improve. You may find you don’t have the data to know this and that can be your first project before you tear the whole thing down.
Step Two: Websites defined by objectives.
Audit your website and document what parts of your site are is achieving your marketing goals and what is failing.
Don’t work in a bubble, get outside of your own opinions, your team, your company and talk to customers and third parties to learn their perception of your website to see if it aligns with your goals and the brand.
Get your hands on as much data as possible. This includes website traffic, on-page customer engagement, SEO rankings. Anything that helps tell an objective story about your website.
Document the data you don’t have but want. If you know site traffic from Google Analytics but have no idea what users do when they arrive at your site, you’ve established a requirement for either a project or as part of the website overhaul.
Now take all of this information and digest it. What is it telling you? What trends are you seeing based on these different objective and subjective sources? If it’s painting a clear picture that the whole site is off, you might be in overhaul territory. If the information is inconclusive, your priority is to get more data. Or you might be tweaking content and monitoring for the next quarter. Either way, you’re now more engaged with your website and beginning to understand how to make it work towards your objectives.
Step Three: Get organized and get ready.
Regardless of scope, document the requirements of your project (adding analytics, doing customer surveys, or overhauling the home page) making sure that everything included in the work you/your team/your agency does is tied to those objectives.
Prioritize and budget. This is where you need to consider how much you spend on your website compared to your overall marketing budget. There’s no exact formula here for every business but if your overhaul is going to cost $20,000 you need to look at the big picture and consider both the impact on the rest of your marketing spend and the return you expect over the next 3-5 years from the new website.
Set timelines and expectations especially if you are redesigning and working with an agency or freelancer. If you have not hired an agency before, the more set you are in knowing what you want, the more likely you’ll be able to find the right agency to help you at a reasonable cost and not take you down deprioritized paths.
Your focus in this step is on tying projects to goals and goals to your ROI. Every dollar you spend on your website goes towards that calculation so it’s imperative you know why you’re spending those dollars. It will help you measure the success of those projects or redesign in the future and it will tell you what your must-haves and nice-to-haves are for prioritization.
Websites can be emotionally-charged subjects for companies because they combine design and content which can be rather subjective but at the end of the day a website is no different than an ad you buy: it has a mission and it either is successful in that mission or it isn’t. Unfortunately websites can have a number of “missions” which make them complex to measure but if you take the time to be as objective as possible with measuring those goals, you’re on a much better track to make a big decision like redesigning the entire site.