No matter what type of business you have, your website is often the first impression customers will have of your company. For most companies, that means their website needs to keep up with the times. It’s a rare company that can get away with maintaining a web design from 2000 today.
As an industrial lubricant supplier, we recognized that we had opportunities to better serve our customers. Part of creating a better experience for customers was the decision at Isel, Inc, to redesign our site. We’d like to share some key considerations to ensure a successful redesign of your company’s website.
Before – One of Isel’s previous websites
After – IselInc.com’s redesigned site
First ask “Why are we redesigning?”
Knowing why you need to redesign will factor into what the end result will be and the strategy that surrounds it.
Ultimately, the primary purpose of your site is to bring in business, whether it’s by selling products or offering services. If your site is commerce-oriented (as opposed to an informational/blog type of site) it’s especially important to develop a strategy for your new site, including identifying and prioritizing target customers or creating success metrics/goals.
Ask yourself a few questions to find out why you should redesign: Is the site working as expected? What are the biggest pain points of the current site? Are you making sales from your site? Is your site helping you convert leads into customers? If your site is bringing in sufficient leads and making sales, is there a legitimate reason to invest in a complete redesign? You may only need to change a few individual pages, create a new call to action or develop a new menu to improve sales. Understand your “why” before making any other decisions.
How are our customers using our site? Are we redesigning to make it easier for them to use? Can they find the information they need to make a purchase decision?
When you look at a redesign, work to understand the process of using your site from a customer’s perspective.
It’s easy to overlook things when you’re the expert on your company. You may know that clicking this will lead to that, but your customers may not. Have a colleague or customer look through the site and give honest feedback on navigation, the ease of finding specific projects and ease of contacting you through the site. Give your testers a specific task –“You are a new customer looking for to purchase XYZ product. What is your experience?”
If you’ve had an established website for a while, it may be helpful to maintain some familiar elements. Whether it’s a logo that stays the same, or keeping terminology on the site the same, these can keep a sense of familiarity for customers and still allow opportunities for upgrades. An experienced web design team can make use of minor changes that may not even be detected by regular users.
Will the site be responsive?
Nobody likes going to a website on their phone and being forced to pinch and scroll through incredibly small text. Nor do they enjoy looking at broken features or inaccessible segments of your site because their browser does not support a specific plugin.
Today people are browsing the web on a variety of devices, from small mobile phones and tablets to large screen desktop computers. Your site must be useable no matter how and where they find you. Responsive site design means your website will adjust to the screen it’s being viewed on. A responsive design will look as good on a PC as it will on a mobile device or a tablet.
Why is responsive design important? Online search trends show that a substantial portion of Internet users now use tablets and other mobile devices to do many of their searches and purchases. An estimated 20 percent of web visitors1 will now be using their tablets or smartphones to access sites, and that number is sure to grow.
What is your budget for a redesign project?
Be realistic about the costs, both in money and time, associated with a redesign. Your budget is an integral part of the redesign process because it will help you define the scope, the goals, and the timeframe for your redesign.
Your budget is also key in helping you prioritize your short and long term online marketing goals. Your long term goals may be to implement inbound marketing strategies, while your short term goal may be to launch a new responsive website. Prioritizing your short and long term visions allows you to create a solid foundation now that’s within your budget and gives you an opportunity to plan for your future improvements.
Without a budget to keep you on track, it’s easy for the changes to get out of control and for you to lose focus on the most important aspects of your site.
What currently works on the site? What needs to be fixed immediately?
Often, a redesign means changing the entire site, but that isn’t always necessary. Some redesigns can make a site more user friendly with a few relatively minor tweaks. You have to understand what works well and what is in dire need of fixing before you make changes to your site.
Any elements of your site that work well for customers should be maintained. You should work to keep all beneficial elements nearly the same in your new site design. Research sales data and website analytics information to drive your redesign decisions. Through your research you should be able to determine where visitors leave your site, whether they are abandoning shopping carts and how much time they’re spending on pages.
Other data to look at includes:
- Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.
- Conversion rates: A conversion is when a site visitor completes a desired task, such as signing up for a newsletter or getting in touch. The conversion rates give you an idea if visitors are completing actions you are interested in tracking.
- Top landing pages: You may want to review what pages visitors are entering your site on. Determine which pages are getting the most search traffic and redirect or get rid of pages that aren’t getting traffic. This is also a good opportunity to review content on the highly trafficked pages.
Do you have a strong call to action?
Everything on your site should have a purpose. In the case of our site, the primary purpose is to sell industrial lubricants. We have designed the site to ensure we are funneling our customers to either place an order or get information for placing orders.
Regardless of the purpose of your site, it’s important to include a call to action that tells user what to do or where to go next. The call to action can be as simple as capturing a user’s email address or motivating users to complete the purchase process.
A website redesign can be challenging, but there may be no better advertisement for your business. Keep your site’s look up to date and make sure it continues to meet your customers’ changing needs.
Dan Sandler, marketing manager at Isel, Inc., has managed brands for local, national and online advertisers. A strong believer in the opportunities that digital initiatives provide for a company’s success, Dan’s focus at Isel is on strategic marketing. Dan earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and his MBA from the University of Central Florida.
1Monetate Q4 2013 Ecommerce Quarterly Study