Your First Five Steps for a Smart Website Redesign

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So you’ve decided that a website redesign is what your business truly needs, but you’re not ready to hire a designer yet?

Or maybe you’re on the fence about redesigning your site and wanna know what you’re getting yourself into. 

I hear you.

And I commend you for realizing the importance that your website plays in your business and brand’s reputation.

So you finally giving it the time and attention it deserves is FANTASTIC..

Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer: This post is a BIG ONE.

It’s long, but filled with tips and tricks that I hope you find useful for your own site.

You don’t have to be a designer to build a site that makes you look professional and keeps you afloat until it’s time to hire a designer.

(and if you think you’re already at that point, I take on a few web design clients a year so click here to see if we’d be a good fit.)

Let’s get into it. 

Why bother with a website redesign?

Don’t think that just because I’m a web designer, that I want everybody and their mama to redesign their website.

Besides great design, another thing I value is not wasting my time.

So if you can answer yes to any of these questions below, then a website redesign should definitely be in your future:

1) Is your design outdated?

2) Are people landing on your site but not converting? (aka are people not/no longer purchasing or signing up?)

3) Has someone(s) mentioned to you that your website is hard to use?

HOWEVER, Some of you don’t need to redesign your website.

Here’s why: because if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

If you’re increasing your traffic, meeting your goals, and pushing your business forward, then leave your website alone.

Or say you want to try some new website conversion strategies, then making little tweaks to your site might be the route for you.

Preparing for your Website Redesign the Right Way 

I’ve seen and gone through many website redesigns in my time, and I can tell you this: The more time you spend on everything but the design, the easier the design will be.

The actual designing of your website comes last. The assessment, strategy, and content gathering come first.

Your design will be so much smoother to create when you have all of the right elements in play.

Cool? Let’s do it.

Step One: Take Notes on Your Current Website

The name of the game for a smart website redesign is to plan something strategically stable and visually appealing.

We don’t want you to need to touch up your site for the next few milestones in your business.

So grab a pen and paper or open up a fresh Google doc and go through each page of your site; writing down everything that you don’t like.

Be a little ruthless with this step (I critique my own work pretty hard so don’t be like me).

Truly look at every element, block of text, what you think of the fonts, colors, images, etc.

Any thoughts that come to your head, write it down.

Here are some questions to think about as you’re going through this:

Put yourself in the shoes of a first-time visitor:

1)      Is the goal of this page clear?

2)      If this is the homepage, how quickly does someone find out what I do?

3)      Do people know who I work with primarily?

4)      Where on this page do I talk about the benefits of my service/product?

5)      Is there a clear call to action on every page (and if so how many are there?)

Keep all of your notes near your computer and wherever you work. We’ll use it as a checklist at the end of the design process to make sure that you turned those negatives into positives.

Step Two: Research your competition

There’s a difference between researching your competition and straight up copying them.

One, if you straight up copy – your website won’t sound or look like you or your brand.

Two, their strategies might not work for your business. So you’re back at square one with a website that doesn’t work for you. 

No bueno. 

Here’s how you do this research right:

Pick about 5 people in your industry that you like. And I mean you really like. You think they have a strong brand, give valuable content, and are overall good at what they do. 

Pull up their website ask yourself these questions: 

  1. What am I missing in regards to functionality?
  2. What are the call to actions on each page?
  3. Can I easily see the goals of each page?
  4. What do I like about the written content on each page? Is it full of personality? Super informative? Stuffy and boring?
  5. How do they talk about themselves on their about page?
  6. What don’t I like about their site? What do I think I could do better on mine?

Don’t look at their services or their portfolio. There’s no need to start comparing yourself.

Get what you came for and get out. 

Step Three: Define your goals and prioritize them

This is a section a lot of people skip over (this and step four).

If I had to put money on it, it’s probably the number one reason why you’re going through this website redesign process in the first place:

You hopped, skipped, and jumped over defining your website goals. 

Here’s how to define your website goals: 

  1. Think of your top three goals that you want your website to achieve for your business. 
  2. Then, think of the top three ACTIONS that you want people to take on your site that will help you achieve those goals. 
  3. Finally, think about which one of those three actions from #2 makes the most sense for each pages. 

Here’s an example, if one of your GOALS is to get more client leads, then the ACTION that you want people to take on your services page should filling out your inquiry form or scheduling a call with you (however you get people in the door). 

I honestly suggest having 1 action on each page. This makes it very obvious what you want people to do.

Step Four: Define Your Target Audience & Their Customer Journey

Ohh yeah people love to skip over this step – and too be completely honest I did too. I did a million client avatar exercises and I was tired of it.

Those exercises do have a purpose, and I say do one of them and that’s it. But I like to think of my target audience in a different way. 

The word audience means more than one person, so I’m not gonna sit here and say that everyone in my target audience reads Kinfolk or Southern Weddings magazine. 

That’s not the most important thing.

What’s important is where they are in their journey when they need me the most.

It’s with that mindset that you should write your website content and blog posts with: “At what moment in her business and her life does she need my services the most? At what point does she finally say “Yes! I’m ready to work with her. Let’s do it!?”

Depending on your service or product, that may be early on in their business (maybe social media strategy or SEO), or maybe it’s when they’ve been in the business for a while and want to upgrade their digs (this is where I like to position my branding and web design services).

It’s all about positioning yourself and creating content that is going to hit them where they are right now.

Tip: You know those feelings that they’re going to feel if they don’t work with you. Talk about them. Turn them into a positive reason to work with you. 

Step Five: Gather Inspiration on Pinterest

Just like gathering inspiration from your competitors, Pinterest is a great place if you’re wanting to seriously change up the layout of your site. 

When it comes to gathering Pinterest inspiration for your website redesign, I suggest that you actually pin things from a bunch of places. Color palettes, interiors, food, plants, etc.

Pin things that have your brand colors in them and that fit your mood, pin typography that has the style in it that you want, pin office spaces that you think your ideal client would work in, etc. 

I think a lot about my ideal client when I’m gathering Pinterest inspiration. Ask yourself with each pin: what would she think about this? Would she like it? Would she buy it? Read it? Sit in it?

If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track. 

Also, take a look around some website inspiration and some layouts. You can search “web design inspiration” or “modern web design”. This will help get your brain flowing and to think of how to set up your own layouts on your website.

If everything above still feels like a big project and you’re thinking of a hiring a designer – read this first:

If you’re just getting started/you’ve been in business for about 1.5 years or less – redesign your website yourself. Seriously.

Here’s why: hiring a designer (a good one with a good process) will work with you through a “discovery” or an “onboarding” phase, where we’ll ask you all sorts of questions about your target audience, goals, competitors, etc.

The answers to those questions are super important. If you’re not clear and at least somewhat clear on those answers, the result you receive might be a bandaid solution.

So in addition to being $1-3k in the hole – you still don’t have a strong enough brand and business foundation to actually capitalize on your new website.

You’ll be looking for another designer soon.

If the actual design part of it is still giving you the cringe face, then toss around the idea of purchasing a template for your site.

However, here is when you SHOULD hire a designer:

If you’ve been in business for a while and you’re looking to scale, expand your offerings, or have simply outgrown your current site, working with a designer is great option for you.

You know who your ideal clients are and you have proven that you know how to market your business and gain revenue.

You want this new website to be a boost to a business that is already making profit – not be a profit starter.

And there you have it! Those are the first five steps to redesigning your website the RIGHT way.

And the right way meaning, if you follow those steps – you shouldn’t have to completely redesign your website again in a few months.

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