11 Website Redesign Project Mistakes to Avoid
As you might have noticed, we recently redesigned our website here at C4B Media.
If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, these tips will help you get your redesign project right first time by avoiding coming mistakes that are all too easy to make.
Let’s get right into it.
Mistake #1: Not understanding why you need a new website
If your website is not generating any enquiries, it’s not working. This might be to do with getting found on Google, usability issues or some more fundamental underlying problem.
The most common reasons for a website redesign are:
- It’s not getting found on Google
- It’s not generating any (or enough) enquiries
- The design is outdated
- The content needs a complete rewrite
- It doesn’t speak to our target market or communicate our values
- We need new functions (such as an e-commerce integration)
- It’s not responsive, working poorly on small screens
Mistake #2: Not setting your goals at the outset
It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the overall goals of a website redesign. To avoid this, simply ask the question: “What do we actually want our website visitors to do?”
Example website goals might include:
- Generating sales and/or enquiries
- Increasing brand awareness
- Reinforcing brand trust
- Demonstrating expertise
- Improving search visibility
- Improving usability
Try and plan the “visitor journey”, envisaging how users will be drawn from the landing page to the website’s “calls to action” and “offers” so they convert into sales or enquiries.
Mistake #3: Obsessing about what your competitors are doing
Key point here: you might look around and see what your competitors are doing and think: “Their website is better than ours” – but you know what? They’re probably doing the same thing.
It’s fine to take inspiration from what competitors or bigger industry players are doing online, but unless you are competing head to head and your pockets are just as deep, don’t worry about emulating their efforts.
Do aim to create a unique website that looks like your brand and reflects your values. Find a way to communicate why people should buy from you and focus on showcasing your skills and expertise to build trust.
Mistake #4: Diving in without a clear scope of work
Having established your goals, it’s tempting to dive straight in.
Yet without a clear scope of work, or ‘brief’, you’ll end up going down blind alleys and cul de sacs, repeating or revising work and wasting time and budget.
A project brief not only encompasses your website objectives but should include the target audience profile, a review of competitor sites, desired structure and navigation, design and function specifications and of course, the project budget and timeframe.
Mistake #5: Leaving content until the last minute
Many people work on the visual aspects of their website at the expense of quality content creation, which is often left until late in the project and then has to fit into an already defined structure.
Content should be the starting point of your website redesign project because it’s what attracts visitors and engages them when they get there. In fact, it’s the very reason people come to your website in the first place.
Once the content is written, the job of the design and navigation development is to present it in an engaging way alongside your offers and calls to action.
Finally, do make sure that you inventory all your other content assets including:
- Images & graphics
- Case studies
- Downloadable file assets.
Mistake #6: Not benchmarking your current site
You’re going to want to know how your new website compares to the old one and what specifically needs to be improved. There’s a wealth of data to be gleaned from your current site, yet often this is ignored.
Early in the redesign project, you should review KPIs and monthly analytics data to get a snapshot of what’s currently working well and where the problems lie. Sample snapshot data to record include the following over a set date range e.g. 12 months:
- Monthly visitor numbers
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Pages per session
- Traffic sources and referrals
- Visitor journeys through the site
- Keywords that drive most traffic
- Most popular landing pages and drop-off pages.
Mistake #7: Forgetting that the website is for your customers, not your staff
Going back to your website goals, remember who your website is for. All too often, internal teams enthuse about how wonderful their website but forget that it’s actually your target customers whose opinions really matter.
As well as being loved and appreciated by your own employees, your new website must first and foremost provide a positive user experience for target buyers.
Consider assembling a ‘user group’ to gauge opinion on design, functionality and navigation, but beware of the “too many cooks” syndrome, whereby opinions are taken onboard unfiltered.
In summary, it’s best to assume that you can’t please everyone with your website redesign project, so focus only on what customers and key stakeholders want.
Mistake #8: Winging it on the project planning and management front
Without a proper approach to project planning and management on your website redesign project, you will almost certainly underestimate the amount of work, time and budget required.
You should set a specific project timescale for your website redesign, with milestone deadlines in place, then carefully coordinate all the inputs in the right order. Remember to book in the various approval stages with the key stakeholders so they can provide timely feedback.
Remember too that the online world is in a constant state of flux. Nothing stays the same for very long, so if you take too long with your project you’ll find that by the time the launch comes around your goals will have changed and the market will have moved on.
When the time comes to launch, a good rule of thumb is that your new website does not have to be ‘perfect’, it just has to be ‘good enough’. Then once you go live, you can tweak and adjust as needed.
Mistake #9: Leaving SEO considerations until last
The SEO’s pet hate is being left out of the loop on a website redesign project, then being asked to get involved at the last minute once pages are complete and content is in place. All the valuable SEO work invested during the life of the existing website, whether done in house or using a professional SEO agency, has been undone.
Factors such as H1 and H2 headings, page titles and descriptions, image tags and keyword optimised content are just the half of it.
If the project has changed the website navigation, and some or all of the page URLs are now different, 301 redirects will also need to be set up.
So involve your SEO from the start and he or she will tell you what is needed and at what stage.
Mistake #10: Not testing your redesigned website before it goes live
Simple rule. Test. Test. Test again. Before going live, not after!
The “pre-launch checklist” for a website project can run to over a hundred points. But the key points to check before launch include the following:
- Check for broken links
- Create 301 redirects
- Ensure Google Analytics is installed
- Test social media links
- Validate CSS/HTML
- Test contact forms and check emails are being received
- Add SSL certificate
- Check mobile versions
- Check cross-browser compatibility
- Test page load times
- Check for obvious typos, especially on key pages and in headings
- Follow the visitor journey.
Mistake #11: Launching and forgetting your new website
Once your newly redesigned website is launched, don’t just leave it out in the wild with no TLC.
Go back to your site, add further refinements and evolve it regularly by testing and improving it for optimal performance. A website is software, so it will need to be maintained and updated to ensure that it stays secure, incorporates new software version releases and complies with ever-changing standards.
Security, responsiveness, browser compatibility and SEO as well as wider web standards are always changing, and your website needs to keep up.