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Website Redesign Checklist: Things To Do During A Site Redesign

Contents

I love a good home improvement show—especially when the hosts start with a rickety shack and end up with an aesthetically appealing home. A home that makes efficient use of space, promoting a steady flow of foot traffic.

The same principles that guide home reno also apply to re-designing your website to capitalize on modern design trends, improve user experience, and increase business opportunities. But redesigning a website often requires more than just cosmetic changes to achieve its full potential and that can make the process daunting to many.

If you’re the fiercely independent type, you can always learn how to DIY your site from scratch using only HTML or CSS. But even the most seasoned developers use templates for a head start. Whichever road you take—DIY or template—we’ve put together a checklist for achieving an effective website redesign (without the overwhelm of color swatches or distraction by pet projects).

Let’s get started!

Why should you redesign your site in the first place—what’s in for you?

You’ve probably heard (ad nauseam) that your website is your strongest online marketing tool. It’s where potential customers go when they want to get to know you or your brand a little better. So a “worn-out” site is not only off-putting to visitors but could also be bleeding money. 

That’s precisely why you need to redesign your website. And that could be as simple (though not as easy) as updating your content, optimizing your site for search engines (SEO), and improving the appearance or functionality of your blog and landing pages. 

With an improved site, you draw closer to realizing your digital marketing goals like:

  1. Maximizing your brand’s potential – An easier-to-navigate webspace attracts more visitors and boosts your conversion rates.
  2. Generating more leads – A new web design or revamped content contributes to more sales and better business reach.
  3. Strengthen your brand – You’ll be able to portray your brand image in a way that boosts your marketing efforts
  4. Engage site visitors – Humans are naturally attracted to shiny, new things. A new look on your old website will not only capture visitors’ attention but also keep them on your site (rather than your competition’s) a little longer.
  5. Show up like a pro👏fe👏ssio👏nal👏 – A good-looking site (much like a good-looking home) tells the world that you’ve got your sh*t together and you know exactly what you’re doing. Your site design is well thought through and aligns with your business goals.

That’s all well and dandy, John. But how can I tell it’s time to redesign the ol’ site?

You want to ensure your redesign venture is for the right reasons—y’know, before you place any valuable business eggs in that basket.

There are lots of good reasons to do a site redesign. We’ve seen that already. There are also lots of bad reasons to redesign a website. For example, “Competitor X just redesigned their website” is as poor a reason as “I simply don’t like our site anymore.”

You shouldn’t make such significant changes to your site if it’s already effectively attracting visitors and converting them into leads. If you can successfully implement inbound marketing on your website at a high level, then perhaps now is not the best time for a redesign. Let analytics—rather than your subjective opinion—be the judge. Ask yourself:

  • Is our website optimized for different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile)?
  • Can visitors navigate the site easily and find the content they need?
  • Is our branding up to date?
  • Is the website on a content management system (CMS) that makes site maintenance easy—is it set up for easy updates and content publishing?
  • Have our business goals changed since the last site launch?
  • How is the site performing —How are our conversion rates?

Your answers to the questions above should help you determine whether it’s time for a site redesign. The same questions will come in handy when it’s time to set your website redesign goals. (We’ll dive into this later).

Taking that all signs point to a redesign, here are 13 crucial steps you’ll need to take when redesigning your website

Step One: Assess your current situation

Auditing and reviewing your current website should always be the first point on the checklist. Review the issues, the most visited pages, and the aspects where you need to repurpose your site.

Check your user trends through analytics and mark out the pages that are performing well/not well in terms of traffic. This will give you a clear picture of what users like/do not like about your pages. An interesting campaign, great content, or live interactions could be generating traffic to these pages.

Similarly, the absence of these could be the reason for dropping visitor numbers!

It is hence important to understand your weak points. You will obviously want your strong pages to be kept intact (or perhaps optimized further) and redesign the others for generating traffic.

[Which means you’ll want to…]

1. Benchmark your current metrics

Before you start thinking about anything, document your current performance metrics. Start by analyzing your existing site over its history, including:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • The total amount of sales generated

If you don’t have access to this information, then I absolutely recommend adding a tool like Google Analytics or HubSpot’s closed-loop analytics for better tracking and visibility into site performance

2. Analyze your current website and market

Before changing anything about your existing website, take the time to first analyze its performance and that of the competition.

Analyze your current website: Review your existing site and go through its different pages. Evaluate what it is that works well, and what doesn’t.

Avoid pitfalls. Inventory your assets

While a redesign is a great way to improve results, there are countless ways it can hurt you. Your existing website contains a lot of assets that you have built up, and losing those during a redesign can damage your marketing. For instance, such assets might include:

  • Most shared or viewed content
  • Most trafficked pages
  • Best performing keywords you rank for and associated pages
  • Number of inbound links to individual pages

For example, if you remove a page that has a higher number of inbound links, you could lose a lot of SEO credit, which could decrease keyword rankings.

Keep in mind that many web designers don’t consider this step because they are not marketers.

With the help of tools such as Google Analytics, you’ll be able to inspect your site’s data. Check to see which of your pages are the most popular, what an average user journey is like on your site, and which CTAs (call-to-action buttons) are getting clicked on.

Remain as objective as possible in analyzing your site’s pain points. Those will need to be addressed in the redesign. Take equal note of your current strengths too, because not everything on your site has to be completely transformed in the process. Your best-performing assets can probably stay just as they are. In fact, they serve as an example of what’s right for your brand, so try and learn what it is that makes them effective.

Analyze the competition

Next to your site audits, analyzing the competitor’s sites and web designs is very crucial. See what works for them. Understand the designs and imageries that work best in your niche.

Critically analyze your competitor’s websites (at least the top 5) in view of the best practices followed in the industry to see the common threads that attract visitors and create conversions. It could be their pricing menu, visuals, imageries, testimonials, videos, interactive chats, marketing campaigns,  deals, etc that interest the audience.

This also gives you an idea of what your competitors are missing.

Bookmark their strengths and weaknesses and get inspiration for your own redesigning project.

While we don’t recommend obsessing over your competitors, it helps to know how you compare.

  • Run your website through Marketing Grader to get a report card of how your website and marketing are performing today.
  • Next, run your competitors through Marketing Grader so you are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Take a look at their websites, and note what you like and what you don’t. BUT, this is not meant to copy them. That’s the last thing you want to do. Instead, you’ll uncover what you can do better.

Once you run the analysis, put together an action list of what areas you can improve and what you can do differently from your competitors.

Look closely into the websites of top competitors in your industry. Pay attention to their design, website navigation, content, and any marketing strategies that they employ. Keep an eye out for common industry practices, such as creating a blog or an online store. These insights will help your website redesign rise up to the competition.

Understand your market

To learn more about your users and industry, conduct market research to clearly define your target audience. Even if you’ve done this before, it’s worth looking into your market and audience once more before redesigning your website as they tend to change over time.

By forming a better understanding of who your customers are, you’ll be able to get a feel for what it is that they like and dislike, or what their online browsing habits are. This knowledge will help you tailor your website’s redesign to your users’ unique needs and preferences.

Design your site around personas

More than likely, you have several buyer personas that your website needs to attract.

You need to identify each persona and then consider how they all work together.

And if you have personas already, please, please check out the post anyway. I’ve seen too many outdated buyer personas already this year from companies who think their personas are “just fine,” and they needed work. We just underwent a buyer persona overhaul, too, and it’s made an enormous difference and improvement with how we speak to our audience now.

Your website is not just about you. Your visitors ask, “what’s in it for me?” Speak to them in their language by designing content around buyer personas.

A buyer persona is when you slice your marketplace into individual groups of people. They are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behaviour, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

For instance, if you are a marketing manager at a hotel who is looking to bring in new business, you might target five buyer personas: an independent business traveller, a corporate travel manager, an event planner, a vacationing family, and a couple planning their wedding reception.

Consider the following when building your buyer personas:

  • Segment by demographics – Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers of your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including a name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.
  • Identify their needs – What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve? What do they need most? What information are they typically searching for? What trends are influencing their business or personal success?
  • Develop behaviour-based profiles – What do they do online? Are they active on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?

Your website is a great way to match your message to the needs of different buyer personas. Build your pages into categories to fit these personas, or offer content in a way that your prospects can easily find what’s relevant for them.

Review your website’s current copy

A lot of businesses still make the mistake of assuming their website is all about them. Most of their content is geared toward telling users how great they are and why they’re unique when in reality buyers want the answer to know one thing: Can your company solve my problem?

How well does your website copy answer this question?

Try going through your website and counting how many sentences include words like “you” versus “we.” In They Ask, You Answer Marcus Sheridan shares that the ideal ratio is five to one, meaning you should refer to your buyer five times more than yourself.

If you’re not hitting that ratio then it’s usually a clear indicator that your content needs to be reworked to focus on the buyer’s problems and needs.

Determine your goals and create a plan

If you’re considering a redesign, there needs to be a good reason for it. Many times we hear “just because it’s been a while since we’ve done one,” or “I want our business to look bigger.” These are not good reasons for a redesign. It’s not just about how your site looks, but how it works.

Write down a list of what you’d like to achieve in your website redesign. Is it intended to increase sales? Encourage newsletter subscriptions? Raise awareness of new products or deals? For each of your goals, specify the metrics through which it can be tracked.

These clearly defined goals will help you devise a website redesign plan. After doing so, break down each of the desired changes you envision for your website into concrete, actionable steps. For example, if your main goal is to increase sales, you might want to consider incorporating pop-up lightboxes that offer a special discount. Then, decide on a viable timeframe for all of the items on your list.

If you’re working with a team, assign roles for individuals in order to keep everyone on track. By making your team an integral part of the website redesign process, the new website design will benefit from their expertise and experience. In addition, you’ll also keep your team motivation high and foster a feeling of belonging and involvement.

Be really clear about why you’re doing the redesign in the first place and tie it to measurable results. Then communicate your goals with your team, designer or agency. Consider the following objectives for your own website:

  • Number of visits/visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • The total amount of sales generated
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords

Many of these goals are dependent on each other. For example, in order to get more conversions, you need to increase traffic while decreasing the bounce rate, so it’s common to have many of these objectives. Some may be more important than others for your business. Once you determine this list, tie those objectives to a specific success metric e.g., “to increase site traffic by 50% in the next six months.”

Define your strategy

With an understanding of your current website’s performance and a set of well-defined goals, you’re ready to build a strategy for achieving those goals.

What your strategy should include

Make sure you develop a fully-realized strategy:

1. A new sitemap

During your site audit, you most likely discovered some pages that performed really well, some that no one visited, and others that you have no idea where they even came from. Your new sitemap is your chance to reorganize your existing pages, delete old ones, and add in new ones you might be missing. 

I like to make a visual sitemap like the example below so I can understand the hierarchy of each page. 

 

Image1

2. Messaging strategy

In the end, good web design is about effectively aiding and delivering the intended message. To do that, you need to have a clear understanding of what your message is.

What is the story you’re trying to tell on your website? What journey are you trying to take your buyers on and what are you helping them accomplish? What problems or challenges do you help them overcome?

At IMPACT, we find the most effective messaging strategy to be Donald Miller’s StoryBrand framework. In a nutshell, the StoryBrand framework is a seven-step outline of your value that positions your business as a guide in your customer’s journey to overcome a specific problem.

Once you have an understanding of this strategy, you can use it to frame the journey of your website and of each individual page. You can learn more about StoryBrand and your website specifically in our article “5 ways you can use the StoryBrand” framework to make a better website.

With this strategy, you can more effectively develop ideal user flows. 

3. Ideal user flow

While the user journey represents the stages someone goes through when making a purchase, the user flows to map out the specific steps someone would ideally take within those stages to complete an action.  

Mapping out an ideal user flow will help you start thinking about how people interact with your website, from a first-time visitor all the way to becoming a qualified lead. 

 

user-flow-sample

Once you plan how someone would move through your site, you can start to figure out how to optimize the different parts of their journey.

It’s completely fine to start off with a very simple user flow like the example above. Once you launch your site and collect more data you can go back and refine it.

From here, you can create individual page strategies and content for your most important pages. More on that later.

4. Keyword research

 Doing keyword research is an important step in optimizing your new site for search and gaining knowledge about what your visitors are looking for. 

Knowing the terms your ideal buyers search for allows you to use those same terms when you’re writing your site content. This not only helps you rank better in search engines but better resonates with your audience when they are on your site.

When it comes to performing keyword research, using a tool such as Semrush can save you a ton of time and give you the most accurate insights. Semrush comes packed with features like the Keyword Magic tool, Keyword Analyzer tool, and Position Tracking tool.

Keyword Magic is a particular favourite of our website strategists. This is an easy-to-use keyword research tool that provides all the keywords you need to build your most profitable SEO or PPC campaign. 

 

semrush-keyword-magic

With it, you simply enter a word and are delivered a report with suggestions as well as competitive density, difficulty, search volume, and SERP features. 

Getting found online is essential to improving the rest of your site metrics. If no one is coming to your site, how can you increase leads, downloads, or sales?

Here are some tips for designing your site for search engine optimization (SEO):

  • Document your most search-valued pages – As mentioned in step three, know what pages have the strongest SEO juice, the most traffic, inbound links, and keywords rankings. If you plan to move highly ranked pages, create proper 301 redirects so you don’t lose any of that value
  • Create a 301 redirect strategy – This may be THE most important step in terms of retaining traffic and rankings. Simply create a spreadsheet to record and map out your 301 redirects
  • Do your keyword research For every page, pick one to two keywords that the page will focus on. Once you determine the keyword(s), use on-page SEO tactics, such as internal link building and optimizing your header tags (H1, H2, s H3, etc.)

Setting a timeline

With a plan in place for how you want to accomplish your goals, it’s time to set a realistic timeline for doing it. The important word here is “realistic.”

Remarkable websites take time. You don’t want to create a timeline that’s too short and forces your team to rush through important steps or leaves too much time and lacks a sense of urgency. 

Unfortunately, there’s no magic answer for how long a website redesign will take. A lot of it depends on the size of your website and how many levels of approval you’ll need along the way, but you should plan to spend anywhere from 2-5 months on your redesign. 

Consider when you’ll definitely need your new website. Are there any events coming up? Trade shows? If there is something pressing, get started as early as possible so you’ll have adequate time to get the quality website you desire.

Once you decide on your preferred deadline, break that deadline up into smaller pieces and set milestones. These milestones will help you keep an eye on how on or off track a project is.

As you go through the project, make sure you track your progress against the deadline and readjust your deadline if necessary.

Under more of a time crunch? Consider starting with a launchpad website.

A launchpad is a site that looks and performs better than what you have now, and is scalable, but is still in the process of evolving in terms of design. Get the 20% done that does 80% of the work and collect the data needed to iterate and improve later.

A launchpad is a site that looks and performs better than what you have now, and is scalable, but is still in the process of evolving in terms of design. Get the 20% done that does 80% of the work and collect the data needed to iterate and improve later.

Craft or update your site content

One of the hardest things for teams to do during a redesign is to focus on content after design.

It’s easy for teams to be overzealous and want to jump right into the design so they can see all of their hard work start to come together. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s usually the most fun part.

They figure, “We’ll just write the content after and fit it into the designs we’ve created.”

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make during a website redesign.

It pushes people into a mindset that content is more of an afterthought that can always just be done later.

Not to mention that trying to retrofit content into an already existing design creates elements that rarely line up properly and usually force you to either make unforeseen design revisions or sacrifice the quality of your content. 

Your content should always dictate the layout of your website pages. Design is meant to enhance your message, not distract from or overpower it. 

Many people lean toward the design-first approach because they’re not sure where to start when it comes to creating their content. It feels like looking at a blank slate.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to feel this way. 

This is where page strategies come into play. After you complete your StoryBrand Framework and BrandScript, we recommend creating page strategies that outline how the story will be laid out on the page. 

Take note of things like where calls-to-action to premium content can be introduced, where FAQs go, and where blog/learning centre content can be introduced. This will guide the design.

It’s important to note, however, that not all pages require strategies. 

People should just focus on the 20% of their website that drives 80% of the conversions (i.e., homepage, pricing, service/product details, and a direct bottom-of-the-funnel landing page). Pages like these carve out the main path that takes users from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

You can use tools like Trello or GatherContent to organize these pages.

With your pages organized into more manageable chunks of work, start creating content wireframes that break down exactly what content and information needs to go on each page. 

This will help you focus on the story you’re telling for each page and cure that feeling of looking at a blank slate. 

When creating your content make sure you’re constantly looking for opportunities to educate your visitors.

A simple exercise to see how well you’re educating visitors is to brainstorm the top 25 questions you constantly hear from buyers about your product or services. Make sure you’re answering those questions in the pages on your new site. 

Also, look for opportunities to include the following in your content:

  • Self-selection tools
  • Premium content like ebooks, whitepapers, and buying guides
  • Video
  • Social proof such as testimonials, customer reviews, and case studies

These are powerful assets that can be used to educate and inform your prospects and keep them moving through the buying process.

If you’re ever tempted to skip the content-first approach, just remember that while a person’s first impression of a website is based on visuals, it is strong and helpful content that keeps them engaged and wanting more.

Should you design your website before writing the content?

NO.

We see this mistake all the time and it always comes back to bite us. Always go content before design. Always, always.

Don’t get me wrong—the design of your site is a crucial part, but if the message never comes across you’re toast. When you have your content written first, your design can help drive that message forward and make it more heard and easy to digest.

Review your buyer personas and buyer’s journey and then dive into the content. Can you freshen up the About Us page? How about your product or services pages? How about the overall tone of the site? Does it still match your current business?

A big part of updating your website is freshening up its text. And when it comes to writing your website’s content, it’s paramount that your choice of words provides real value to readers. Keeping your target audience in mind will help you craft text that is less about you and your product (which can come off as salesy), and more about your users and their needs. Use written copy to provide an answer to their questions, and offer a helping hand in guiding them through the site.

Additionally, keep your text short and sweet. Sentences that are concise and to-the-point are especially effective in this current age of skim reading and decreasing attention spans.

The tone of voice: Your tone of voice should be consistent and in line with your brand identity. Write the way you’d want your brand to sound, had it been a person. Is it personal and friendly, or professional and authoritative?

Microcopy: Another important part of your site’s text is its microcopy. This term refers to the short bits of text on anything from your call-to-action buttons (CTAs) to your online forms. Try to make your microcopy conversational, so that it sounds like there are real-life humans behind it, and not just cold lines of code. For example, a signup button can go beyond a simple “OK,” and say anything from “Sign Me Up!” to “Let’s Go.”

Identify calls-to-action

A call-to-action is the element on your website that drives visitors to take action, whether it’s a whitepaper download, contacting sales, or product purchase. Your website shouldn’t be a static brochure but should prompt your visitors to do something that further engages them with your brand.

When you’re planning for the redesign, think about all the potential opportunities for conversion. For example:

  • eBooks and whitepapers
  • Contests and promotions
  • Product purchases
  • Email newsletter subscriptions
  • Free trials
  • Contact us / Consultations / Demonstrations etc.

While the “design” of your website is important, focus on function. Make sure there is plenty of calls to action so you don’t lose visitors.

Gather design inspiration for your site revamp

While working through your strategy, you can also start thinking about design (finally!). 

Deciding on the look and feel of your website is an important step before delving into the many details that go into it. Make sure your visual language ties into your overall brand identity, and matches your business’s tone and core values.

To get your ideas flowing, we recommend you look into sources of web design inspiration and the latest web design trends. Try to identify what suits your brand best, and what could benefit your site’s functionality.

At this stage, you should also gather all of the essential design assets you’ll need for your website. These include your professional logo, brand colours and website colour scheme. Ask yourself whether they still fit into your new style, or could use some adjusting.

It’s smart to do it that way because 1) it speeds up the process, and 2) strategy should dictate design. But design can dictate functionality (e.g., we know we want a pricing module on the page, and a great UX designer will have input on the best way to lay that out).

I recommend doing a deep dive into two or three competitor websites as well as one or two websites outside of your industry. This will give you a view of industry standards as well as where you can shake things up a bit (as long as it benefits the user).

Gathering these assets will also allow you to discuss, as a team, what visual elements and styles you want to incorporate. This ultimately helps confirm that your entire team is aligned on the visual direction of your redesign and that it aligns with the overall goals of the project.

When looking for inspiration, try to answer questions like:

  • What feeling should a visitor get when visiting your site?
  • What new tools and features should your new site have?
  • What types of imagery and graphics should you use?

As you gather inspiration for your new site, make sure you’re saving the different elements you like. The best way to do this is by putting together a mood board for your team to reference during the design phase of your redesign.

If you’re not familiar with mood boards, think of them as a collage of different images and text that visually explain the direction you want to take your designs.

A mood board can include things like typography styles, layout samples, imagery treatments, iconography, colour palettes, or even entire websites. 

 

sample-mood-board
Sample IMPACT mood board

There are a ton of different platforms out there to help you create mood boards. You can use free tools such as Pinterest or Canva or, for a more premium experience with more customization options, you can also use paid tools such as Invision Boards.

There are a ton of different platforms out there to help you create mood boards. You can use free tools such as Pinterest or Canva or, for a more premium experience with more customization options, you can also use paid tools such as Invision Boards.

Whatever tool you use is ultimately up to you and your team. Just make sure you’re documenting the inspiration you’re gathering.

Start designing

Being a designer, I’m a little biased, but this is the best part. Now’s the time your weeks of hard work come to life and start to take shape. 

It may be tempting to dive in and start designing all of your pages, but instead, you need to take it slow and make sure you’re getting constant feedback and buy-in along the way. 

Using tools such as InVision or Zeplin can help streamline your feedback and make the design process much more collaborative. Both design tools integrate with most of today’s design programs.

The most popular way to start the design process off is by creating wireframes. These can be simple black and white designs that show how you’d like to lay the content out on each page.

sample-wireframe
Sample IMPACT Wireframe

Wireframes will keep you focused on the content and allow you to make sure you’re laying the content out in the best way possible.

When you are ready to move into creating full-page designs, start out by designing the first three or four sections of a high-impact page (I like to start with the homepage) and then bring the design back to the team for feedback.

This can save you time and unnecessary revisions in the long run by making sure your design is going in the right direction.

Once your team is fully aligned on a design direction, you’re off to the races. Work your way through each page, making sure you’re getting that constant feedback and buy-in from the team.

Remember to update old graphics

Are you using the same images from 1999? Take a new company photo, and update your product or service photos. Make sure that everything is responsive and looks good on multiple devices.

Employ best design practices

This is where the design part of the website redesign comes in. Be sure to keep your brand identity in mind, as well as the main principles of design. The following tips will help steer you in the right direction:

Hierarchy: This is what leads site visitors to look at each element of your site in order of priority, starting with the most significant piece first. Doing so will prevent the look of clutter and an unnecessary sense of urgency. Size and weight (like a larger and bolder letter size for titles) and element placement (like placing an important CTA button at the very centre of the screen) can help you to achieve this. 

Contrast: This helps us distinguish between different parts of the design by highlighting their differences. While elements that look alike tend to blend together, elements that are contrasting stand out more. Contrast can be achieved through texture (such as plain versus patterned), brightness (light versus dark) and, the most common one, colour. Checking your website’s colour contrast is an important practice for making your website accessible, as you’ll need to ensure that your site is clearly legible.

Balance: Each of your pages should be well-balanced and harmonious. A good way to understand balance is to think of your webpage as a scale, with its elements distributed equally on both sides. There are many ways to go about such even distribution, as the balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial. Whichever you choose, the resulting look should always feel cohesive, leaving nothing out of place.

Use of imagery: Make sure to incorporate high-quality media features in ways that support your messages, such as photographs, icons, or vector art. Your imagery could showcase your product, like food for a restaurant website or your accommodations for a hotel website. A different option is to simply set the right mood, for example, with a soothing photo of plants on a nutrition and wellness website.

Typography: This is the practice of arranging text relating to everything from the choice of font to the letter size and weight. While typography is an art form in itself, there are a few simple rules to guide you through the use of type for your website. Pick one to three fonts (but no more) and use them consistently throughout the site. The paragraph text should be the most easily legible, while the title font can be more on the decorative side, with unique touches like cursive or old-style serifs. 

Develop your site

Development is typically the final stretch for any redesign, and our website redesign checklist is no different.

It’s been a long process to get to this point, so there’s a lot of anxiety that can go along with this step, but rushing development can be a recipe for disaster and delays.

Dedicate ample time for the site to be coded out cleanly, following SEO and industry best practices — as well as the design you fell in love with. 

In this step, your team, internal or external, will transfer the flat design mockups that were created, into HTML, CSS, and other languages.

Choose a solid Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS, or content management system, often allows you to design a website from a pre-created template, optimize your content for SEO, and edit the content after it’s published. If you’ve already built your website, you might have already gained experience with using a CMS. 

But, if you’re still building a website, one way to make going through this checklist less time-consuming is by building your pages on a CMS that already does a lot of the work for you.

For example, ClientHQ’s CMS that allows you to create and edit content including landing pages and blog posts. Its features also allow you to organize your content, schedule it, track analytics, and optimize it for SEO.

Alternatively, you can also test out CMS platforms like WordPress, Wix, or even Drupal.

As pages are developed, make sure you’re checking for cross-browser functionality to ensure a consistent experience for all users. This gives you peace of mind that no matter what browser is used, your site will display exactly as intended and also ensures your users are getting a fully optimized experience.

The same goes for mobile devices. Going through the variety of screen sizes takes time. 

Typically it’s a good idea to determine the most popular devices and test those. Google Analytics can help you. This gives you a realistic snapshot of what your site looks like on different devices, again ensuring a consistent user experience that won’t frustrate anyone.

Ensure that your site is experienced just as smoothly on the go by creating a mobile website version that’s equally intuitive. Declutter the screen and remove unnecessary elements so that only the most essential content remains, and stands out on the smaller screen. You can also take advantage of mobile website design features such as a branded welcome screen or animations.

Preview Your Site on Different Devices and Browsers: Are All Your Users Covered?

Once the bulk of your site is rebuilt, we need to check on our user experience yet again. Not everyone has the same computer configuration as you or your team, so you need to account for the various browsers, screen sizes, and devices that visitors may use to access your new website.

As with many of these steps, start with your analytics — they’ll reveal what browsers your audience typically uses. Opening and testing your website in both modern and outdated versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer is a good start, but feel free to check out Opera, Edge, and even the Facebook browser to make sure all your bases are covered.

 

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You’ll also want to view your site on mobile devices. Starting in late 2016, more users accessed the internet from smartphones and tablets than from desktop computers. Even though mobile-optimized websites are critical to online survival, there are multiple ways to make them happen. Responsive themes rearrange site content to adapt to the device’s screen size, while mobile websites are designed specifically for smaller screens.

Regardless of the path you choose, be sure to look at your site on several iOS and Android devices and browsers.

If you’re not completely sold on a particular design scheme or layout, don’t be afraid to do some A/B testing, which entails pitting two or more design elements against one another to see which performs better. Most commonly, A/B testing is used to measure the effectiveness of calls to action (think buttons), content quality and quantity, forms, layouts, product prices, and images. Traffic is routed to the various versions, and analytics should reveal which choice leads to better conversions.

On top of improving your user experience, a mobile-friendly website is also beneficial for SEO as it’s a major part of Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative.

Launch your new site! 

You’ve made it! After months of auditing, planning, designing, and developing you’re finally ready to launch your new site. That’s super exciting!

Before launch, make sure you perform a pre-launch review of your site to confirm that everything with your new site is in order and ready to go. Your pre-launch review should include: 

  • Checking for any broken links
  • Make sure your 301 redirects are all set
  • Verifying that the meta descriptions and page titles are correct for every page
  • Checking for any broken or missing images 

Double-checking all of these items will not only save you from the future headache of rushing to try to fix issues post-launch but also ensure a smooth transition for people from using your old website to using your new one.

Next, I’d also recommend doing a Semrush site audit before launch and comparing it to the one you took at the beginning of your redesign process. It’s important to be able to compare site health and make sure that nothing became less effective during the redesign.

When you’re positive everything is ready to go, send that site online, and pour yourself a drink!

 

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Immediately after launch, make sure that all the pages are rendering properly, your analytics and heatmap tracking codes are in place, and you’ve submitted your new sitemap to Google Search Console

So now you can kick back and watch the leads flow in. But your work is not done. 

Test and Tweak Your Design: What Can You Do Better Next Time?

Plan experiments, then rinse and repeat.

Your brand new website is developed and launched, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Now you have to start collecting and reviewing your user data on the new designs.

Work with your team to plan experiments to A/B test different layouts, or features, to help 

improve the user journey. Focus on the most important pages on your website first, and go through steps 6-11 as many times as necessary until you ultimately hit your goals — and then set new ones!

Create reports, whether in HubSpot, Google Data Studio, Marketo, or another platform, to help you see how you’re doing. Someone in marketing needs to be able to compare pre-launch metrics to post-launch metrics. Benchmarking leads, conversion rates, keyword rankings, site speed, and site health are especially important.

These tests and the subsequent changes you make as a result will only help improve your website’s user experience, lead generation, and overall effectiveness.

No one wants to work in a vacuum. You will have spent countless hours slaving away over your new website, and completing your objectives on time is a major accomplishment — shout it from the rooftops!

Launch and promote your redesigned website with announcements through a press release, email, social media, and any other method available.

Just as analytics played an important role before and during the redesign, the numbers should play an important role going forward to both measures your success and expose even more areas for improvement. According to the Matrix Marketing Group, losing your critical eye and abandoning your metrics analysis is often the reason for needing a redesign in the first place.

Remember the new houses in those home improvement shows?

The episode might have ended, but those homeowners still need to dust, do the dishes, and sweep the floors to keep the property looking as fresh, modern, and appealing as it did the day the renovations ended. Keep your long-term goals in mind, along with a wish list of features and optimizations you’d like to implement in the future—you’ll be better equipped to tackle them in your next redesign!

Review and share

Give your new design a thorough review, proofreading its written content, checking the navigation flow and ensuring that all links work properly. Double check even the smallest of details. Ask for a few trusted friends or team members to conduct a similar inspection.

Once your website redesign is ready, give it a marketing boost to support the launch. Sharing your fresh new design on social media and in a newsletter announcement is a good way to drive traffic to your website.

Conclusion

That’s our website redesign checklist! It’s not always easy to follow it by the book, especially when there are tight deadlines or time constraints. However, following it as closely as you can help you make your new website the traffic-driving, the lead-generating machine you’ve always wanted.

Remember, when thinking about starting a redesign project, the first step is to always assess why you want to redesign your site. Make sure there’s sound reasoning behind your decision.

From here, the success of your redesign will all depend on dedicating the right amount of time to preparation and planning. 

Make sure you understand things like what current assets you have to work with, what areas of the site you want to improve, and what goals you will track to see if your redesign was successful.

Follow these steps and you can’t go wrong. 

Happy redesigning!

A successful website redesign starts even before the site is being “designed.” Oftentimes, people get caught up in how the website looks and this focus overshadows how well it is working.

Remember, a website is not a silo. Its integration with other functions, such as social media, email marketing and lead generation, is critical. This is your chance to turn your website into an inbound marketing hub.

Follow this checklist and you’ll be well-prepared for any website redesign.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thinking of taking a “second chance” at creating that “first impression” on your clients with a website redesign? Don’t think twice. Just get it done. Let’s get on to a friendly call.

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