Every website needs a good overhaul now and again. Whether you’re rebranding your website or just updating the look and feel of it, several things must be taken into consideration before you begin. Giving your website a huge overhaul can be a long, tedious process. There are multiple factors to consider from the framework of your website to the impact a redesign will have on future marketing efforts. Checklists make the process go much smoother since you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re forgetting anything. Here is a checklist to make sure you’re on track with your website overhaul.
Does your site have goals?
Even if you’re doing a redesign “just because,” you should still have some solid performance goals for your website. After all, you want your site to perform just as well, or even better than its current incarnation. Consider metrics to improve on such as:
Monthly unique visits
Time on site
Current ranking for keywords
Once you determine your goals, make them measurable. e.g., increase conversions by 25%. If nothing else, make a note of your current website metrics and make it a goal to meet or exceed them. Your current metrics also make a good benchmark by which to measure future performance.
Is your site usable?
Usability is multifaceted, and is one of the most important considerations when redesigning a website. According to Peter Morville’s usability honeycomb, a website should be:
Useful: Your content should fulfill a unique need.
Usable: Your website should be easy to use. Checklist for usability.
Desirable: Your website image, brand, and overall appearance should evoke a sense of appreciation.
Findable: Content should be easily navigable and easy to locate both on-site and off-site. Checklists for website navigability.
Accessible: Your website content should be accessible to people with disabilities.
Credible: Users should be able to trust your website and what you tell them.
Are your site standards compliant?
The World Wide Web Consortium sets standards for how a website should be built from the inside out. Why do these standards matter? Websites that are standards-compliant display better with modern browsers, rank better in search listings, offer better accessibility, and operate on less bandwidth. See Checklist for standards compliance.
Does your website have high-quality content?
As mentioned above, a website’s content must be useful to the visitor. A pretty website without useful content is much like an empty jeweled goblet: Pretty to look at, but containing no substance. Your website’s content is basically information meant for visitors. This can include blog posts, articles, video, podcasts, audio, pictures, charts, slideshows, or a combination of these. Since people mostly come online to get information, having helpful, interesting content is your best bet for getting in your visitors’ good graces. See Checklist for content quality.
Is your website accessible?
As mentioned above, users with disabilities should also be able to access your website without a problem. This usually involves marking up code so that screen readers and other devices can access it easily. See checklist for website accessibility.
Is your site optimized for search?
It’s important that web designers become increasingly aware of the importance of SEO in the structure of a website. Page elements like titles, pictures, and even video can contribute to or harm a website’s place in search engine rankings. When redesigning a website, take inventory of your old site’s most valuable pages in terms of SEO: The pages with the most traffic, the most inbound links, and with the highest keyword rankings. Create a strategy for using 301 redirects so as not to lose any of that valuable SEO juice. See Checklist for website SEO.
Is Your Site Secure?
Website security is often overlooked, until something goes spectacularly wrong. Plan ahead by taking website security measures including using encrypted login pages, strong password practices, backing up your files, and keeping tight file permissions. See checklist for website security.
Do some final checks.
The tiny details matter. Spelling and grammar, typography, browser compatibility, and other small details can either make or break your website relaunch. See checklist for website relaunch.
A website redesign can feel daunting, but it’s actually less so when you have all of your bases covered. Each separate element of a website is connected to the other. That’s why it’s important to have concrete goals for your site redesign, to make sure that they all work together in the end. Even after your website re-launch, you will likely engage in constant tweaking and improving as you discover bugs and receive feedback. Improving a website is an ongoing process.