Strategy may seem like a strange component for a site redesign. You may be thinking that all the site has to do is look good, right? Why would there need to be goals if the redesign is going to work much better than the existing layout or theme?
Unfortunately, too many website owners “go with their gut” when it comes to a redesign. They think they need a new site, but they aren’t really sure why. They pay thousands of dollars for a brand new CMS and layout, assuming that their new, splashy, modern site will better convert customers and increase sales dramatically. Yet when they launch, their only real goal—sell more—isn’t met. In fact, it looks like sales are dropping. Why is this?
In actuality, trusting your gut is one of the worst things you can do with a redesign. Your decision should be backed by real data, like customer complaints, high bounce rates, or low purchases on mobile devices. Additionally, everything you do in the redesign process should consider the needs of the customer—not the desires of the owner. A beautiful site does not always lead to sales, especially if its customers can’t find what they came there for.
This is why it’s so important to have a strategy when it comes to a new site design. A website redesign strategy lays out, point by point, what you want to happen with your online presence. This strategy will guide the site’s elements and presentation, and ensure that everything you or the designer does leads to success and customer happiness.
How to Create Your Redesign Strategy
To determine your strategy, start by jotting down the biggest things that are detrimental to your current website design. These should be things that have a direct impact on the way your site performs, or items that have been frequently complained about. As much as it may hurt to read it, no website redesign strategy is complete without criticism from the outside. Here are some examples:
- Site search doesn’t show relevant results
- Not enough room for all pages in menu
- Homepage is too cluttered
- Checkout looks out of date
Now, using your list (which is probably a lot longer than ours!), write what you feel are solutions to these problems to the right of each issue:
- Site search doesn’t show relevant results = better functioning search
- Not enough room for all pages in menu = larger drop-down menu
- Homepage is too cluttered = clean homepage with fewer, larger images
- Checkout looks out of date = redesigned checkout
These items to the right are your “must-haves.” Even if you can’t specifically solve each problem—“redesigned checkout” is vague, but you can leave the details up to someone else—you know that these are the things you can’t live without.
From this list of must-haves, you should be able to craft a website mission statement of sorts:
We want the new company website to have a clean homepage with fewer images, a large menu to accommodate all of our pages, a search that allows users to easily find products, and a redesigned checkout process that looks more modern.
There’s your strategy! Hand that sentence to a web design company, and they’ll have a much easier time coming up with something for you than they would with directions like “make it look better.”
Another thing that you can do to determine your strategy—and guide any design work—is to set goals for the revamped website. For example, say your bounce rate is currently around 85%, and you want the new design to get it down to 70%. You can make a list like this one:
- Reduce bounce rate by 15%
- Cut cart abandon rate in half
- Increase daily clicks on conversion button by 25%
- Daily visitor count of 1,000
- 300 purchases per month
Can your website redesign help with all of these goals? It’s possible. Design plays a big part in the overall attractiveness of your site, so even though some of these goals may look more like something you’d try to achieve with SEO, you can certainly try to move the needle with a redesign. You might be surprised by how much of an impact a redesign can make on sales.
With your needs, goals, and strategy in hand, one last thing that you can do is some research. Go looking for websites that meet your criteria, or resemble the “dream site” in your head. If you know you want your site to have a beautiful drop-down menu, look for sites that have one; if your favorite ecommerce store has a fantastic checkout, take note of it. Bookmark these sites and share them with your designer—they’ll appreciate the clear direction and examples.
To help you better understand what your redesigned website might need, chapter 3 will cover some of the most common redesign requests, and show some examples of websites that have these features. (Feel free to use them as examples for your own project!)