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Monday, April 9, 2007

7 Surefire Tips For Re-Designing A Website

Redesigning isn’t rocket science but it could easily become a huge disaster, leaving your website in a worse state than it was before. You can avoid this with the proper knowhow and planning.

1. Focus On Audience
Make sure the website is easy to use. Keep in mind that a visitor needs to be able to easily navigate through your website to complete the sale. If you’re selling a service, the visitor needs to be able to find the service that they are looking for, find information about it and easily be able to contact you. The best visitor is a returning visitor, so make sure a visitor’s experience is great.

2. Set Goals

A successful redesign takes time, careful planning, and thorough testing. Sometimes you don’t even need to completely redesign your website. It may have an excellent design, but be impossible to navigate through. Remember: if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. You will need to establish long term goals and short term goals. The short term goals serve to help you work up to the long term goals so that everything can be tested after each short term goal is achieved. The last thing you want is your website’s traffic and/or conversion to decrease. So before you do anything, figure out what is wrong with your website and why are you redesigning it. Is it outdated? Does it have a low conversion rate? Or is it just not ranking well in search engines?

3. Analytics (Tracking) Software
Web Analytics is one of the most important things you should have before you even think about redesigning your website. Analytics software allows you to track your visitor, know where they are going and what they are doing. This will give you the answers to the questions asked earlier. It will give you a reason to redesign your website, whether it is to make your site more search engine friendly or to increase the conversion rate. Google Analytics is now free for everyone. It isn’t very user friendly, but hey…it’s free.

4. Define Technical Goals
Before you even start redesigning, make sure you know what you will need for your new website to work. Will you need to back up daily? Is your existing server going to cut it? What if the server crashes? Can you make changes to the website yourself? What language is my website going to be in? Is it going to need a content management system? Figure out what you will need to redesign your website, how long will it take, and who will be making these changes. This will help you estimate the cost and time for this project.

5. Website’s Future
This is one of the most forgotten steps in redesigning a website. Don’t just think about now, think about the future. This way, the next time you want to update your site, it can be as painless as possible. Also know that your website will need maintenance. If you are selling a product, make sure it is easy for you to add more products in the future and that they have the same design as the rest of the website. If you are selling a service, make sure it is easy to add or change it.

6. Usability Testing
After every step of the redesign have visitors test the usability of your website. Maybe what you thought made the website better, actually made it worse. Test every step of the way to make sure you get the best conversion possible. Make changes to your plan according to your visitor’s reaction. This will not only increase your conversion rate, but increase you returning visitors as well.

7. SEO
Search engine optimization will be what drives traffic to your website. It is important that you research your keywords, optimize your coding (keywords in URL, H1, H2, and in the title, good meta description) and comply with any other search engine guideline. If you are spending all this time and money to redesign your website, you might as well put in a little more time and money (or effort if you are doing it yourself) to have it done right. Be careful to have a proper balance between search engine friendliness and usability. After all, a site with 1000 visitors with a 15 percent conversation rate has the same number of customers as a site with 5000 visitors and 3 percent conversation rate. What’s more important…more customers or more visitors?

- singlegrain dot com

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