Plan. I can help you with that. I realize that you finally have had it. You want to erase everything and start over.
Before you do something drastic let's think rationally. Yes, your baby is ugly (thanks, Tim Ash for planting this in my head). However, it is too early to throw your baby away with the bath water.Before you jump into redesigning your website, you need to plot your attack. You need to rely on your strong points and eliminate or improve your weak points. In other words, you need a website redesign plan. I have a 3 step process for you to set you on the right track.
Step 1 - Get It All Out
Write down your grievances. Put it all on paper - every single thing you hate about your website. For example, you hate the colors and you think the site is boring. Most importantly, it is not making you money. You can write as few or as many as you want.
Ask your clients what they would like to find on your website. Find out what they like and what they do not like about your website. Be careful not to take all of the comments to heart. Discard those that make no sense.
Talk to your staff about your website. Ask them to make recommendations. Look into your analytics and make a list of pages with the largest bounce rate.
Step 2 - Organize The Website Issues
The list is great, but now you have to group them into categories and prioritize their importance.
Color is a design issue. Boring site is a content issue. Not making money is a conversion issue.
Website Conversion Audit
Start with the most important - conversions. When your visitor does what you want them to do on your website it is a conversion. Conversion can be anything - from signing up to your newsletter to buying your product; from looking at several pages vs. one to leaving a comment on your blog. You, the website owner, determine what all the conversions are on your website. Then, you need to set goals to track them. Assign monetary value to each conversion to translate it into revenue.
Small business owners often complain that the website does not send new customers through the physical door of their business. My reply is always, "How do you know?" You have to track your online advertising and capture conversions off line. If you are not tracking phone calls from the site, if you do not ask people where they found you, how do you know a website customer when you see one?
Make sure you track all possible conversions on your website. Make sure you have systems in place to track phone calls that come as a result of visiting your website. Double-check tagging on all the URLs you are distributing through newsletters, social networks, and affiliate sites.
Website Content Audit
Content is critical to your website success. Why would anyone return to your website if you haven't updated it months? Why would they like you on Facebook if your Facebook page is stale? Perhaps, not only your website needs help but your whole online presence.
Your online presence should indicate that you are an expert in what you do. When people say you are an expert, others are likely to believe it. Your helpful activities in real life and the virtual world will compel people to spread the word that you know what you are doing. Use your website as a hub to promote and write about all of those activities.
In real world encourage reviews, referrals, have speaking engagements, participate in events, educate, help, interact. In the virtual world blog, be an active member of an online community, give stuff away, help people, talk to them and just be there. Meet your audience where they are. And be a person.
Think about content in terms of what your customers are interested in. Stop promoting yourself and help your audience instead. Think about your content a year in advance. Create an editorial calendar, decide how you are going to promote posts, and assign tasks to your team.
Design will take care of the first impression of your business. Part of it is how professional your website looks. Your revenue, however, will depend on how quickly your visitors can find what they are looking for. If your content motivates your customers to stick around longer and check out more of the website features, it would be a bonus. Of course, the only reason anyone would stay on your website longer is if they see the benefit to them. Therefore, navigation and usability will be your primary areas of focus. Design for flows. Don't forget to design for mobile.
Most often website owners expect visitors to rummage through a huge pile of content to find what they are looking for. One person even told me that they want the visitors to marvel at their pretty animated pictures. What is the chance of that? Zero. Trust me. Besides, marveling does not make you money. Bad usability will make your visitors leave.
Ask your kid or your Mom to look at your website for 5 min and answer 2 questions:
- What do you remember on the page?
Do they remember the most important things or just flashy ads?
- Where would you click next?
Is the next click fits your plan for your visitors?
Step 3 - Plan your redesign
Decide what you can do yourself and what you need to outsource. Unless you are a professional web designer, always outsource your site design. Create your content yourself or outsource part of it. Hire an agency to listen to the social media and report to you on relevant buzz. Create a calendar and stick to it. Monitor your conversions and optimize. Never stop testing.
How much time do you have? How much desire do you have to learn and do it yourself? Get the project started and done as quickly as you can. You are investing in yourself. Make it worth your while.