Designing a new website is an exciting prospect. It’s the perfect opportunity to create the website of your dreams — complete with a beautiful design and new functionality.
But excitement can turn sour quickly as the project gets mired down in choices and lengthy discussions about who should do what or runs up against budgetary constraints. It can seem as though you’re lost in details that drag you farther and farther away from your goal.
Here are 12 ways your website redesign can go wrong — and how to avoid them:
Lack of Direction: If the blueprint is wrong, the entire project will be off. Take a hard look at the impetus for redesigning your website and think critically about how the redesign aligns with your business goals. Ensure that the features you want in a new website align with your business goals, the needs of your ideal visitors, and the demands of technical needs like search engine optimization.
A Narrow Focus: Look beyond whether your site will end up on the first page of Google search results. As of this writing, there are hundreds of factors that determine how — and whether — a website will be served in search results and it’s impossible to promise a first-page ranking for particular search terms. Instead, build content that illustrates how you can help solve problems for your ideal visitors.
Lack of Understanding: While there are many do-it-yourself programs out there, a website redesign is a technical process that typically involves a copywriter, a web designer, and a web developer — and sometimes, more than one of each. Consider relying on the expertise of a team of professionals who can align function, beauty, and budget.
Unrealistic Timelines: An ideal website redesign begins with a lengthy conversation about your wants and needs for the site — well before any work actually takes place and before any commitment to a specific timeline. Be prepared for the timeline to be longer than you like, and consider the possibility of rolling your site out in phases. Regardless of the approach, allow yourself time to test the value of your ideas and make data-driven adjustments.
Lack of a Contract: Lack of a contract doesn’t allow for unbridled creativity and endless revisions. It sets you up for failure by forcing both sides to work without a specific vision and a defined list of expectations, pricing, and timelines. The best contracts provide a reasonable amount of definition and have flexibility and creativity built-in. Take the time to clearly define your project and you’ll avoid confusion and unnecessary delays.
Making Decisions Without Data: Before you dive into redesigning your website, consider how well the old one is doing. Take a close look at your website analytics and consider how many visitors come to your site each month, how long they stay, what they’re reading, etc. Examining past performance is key if the redesign is to be successful.
Focusing On Flash: Everyone wants a website that makes visitors say “wow.” But focusing on flash — like pop-up windows, things floating on the home page, and a lot of moving graphics — can have the opposite effect, especially if they stand between your user and the content they expect to see. Instead, prioritize function and efficiency by focusing on helping your audience access the content they need.
Forgetting About a CMS: Once your vendor has turned over the proverbial keys, you and your staff should be able to easily update the new website. Be sure to choose a CMS, or content management system, that offers flexibility and ease-of-use when it comes time to make updates — or you’ll be left paying your vendor additional fees to make the updates.
Ignoring Fluidity: The best websites aren’t updated once and left to gather dust. Modern websites are considered living documents — that is, they’re intended to be marketing vehicles that can operate in a fluid, rapidly-changing landscape. In order to do this successfully, your new website will need time, attention, and budget support.
Free Websites: When a friend, family member, or business acquaintance is offering you a new website, it can be easy to forget the old mantra: you get what you pay for. Ducking the price of having a skilled team redesign your website might save you big now, but it’ll cost you big in the long run — and not just in terms of dollars, but also in terms of missed opportunities.
No Lead Generation Strategy: Every page on your new site should be built for a purpose and include a clear call-to-action that guides visitors through the buyer’s journey. Web pages should never be considered as stand-alone pieces, but should instead be considered as individual parts of a carefully synchronized effort to generate sales and marketing leads. Before you begin the redesign process, be sure that your lead-generation process is clearly defined and scalable.
Carefully consider the 12 points listed here and you’ll be well on your way to creating a newly redesigned website that offers measurable, visible value to your business and to your clients. And when you’re ready to get started, contact the team at JFG. We do beautiful work and have recently launched new websites for several of our clients, including UBMD Physicians’ Group, Next Level Coaching, the Historic Palace Theatre, Millington Lockwood, and many others.
J. Fitzgerald Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing communications firm based in suburban Buffalo, N.Y.