A new website can be an exciting prospect, whether it’s the first website, bringing your website online for the first time, or a new website to bring your company into modern web times. Seeing your competitors rebrand themselves and redevelop their website and online presence from the ground up can sometimes make you feel like you need to do the same – you need a new website to stay in competition. Rest assured, this is definitely not the case.
We pride ourselves on being ethical – we wouldn’t go ahead with a website for a small business if we felt it wasn’t the right decision for you. Before considering a new website, you should have a clear goal. What do you want to achieve through your website? If you already have a website, it’s possible that tweaks to your existing site could make a world of difference.
With every enquiry to start a new web design project, the first thing we’ll do is review your existing site. A large portion of our clients are SMEs who do not have web experts in-house, so rely on our input to help make a decision regarding their web presence. Working with you and your requirements, we can recommend one of two options: redesign or optimise. Here’s how we help you decide the best plan of action and what we’d recommend as part of optimisation with any web agency.
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Use The Right Tools
A successful website doesn’t just look great, but performs great. Part of the research to help you decide on whether a new website is the right option is to review your website’s performance in terms of the following. You may feel that because your website doesn’t deliver enough sales or enquiries, you need to redesign. That’s not always the case.
- Responsive: the most important element. Does your website function properly on a mobile phone or tablet? Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test on each page of your site to ensure your website is responsive.
- Conversions: using Google Analytics, is the path that users take to either contact you, make an enquiry or purchase a product simple, or do lots of users leave your site before reaching conversion pages?
- Optimisation: is your website already optimised to perform well in search results? Using tools like Screaming Frog, do you find lots of 404 errors, meaning links within your website are broken or don’t exist?
- Speed: using Google PageSpeed Insights, does your website score well for desktop and mobile devices? This tool will give you lots of technical recommendations to improve the speed and usability of your website.
- Content: is the content on your website easy to read? Using tools like Readable.io, you can input your page content and get a score of how easy it is to read your text against the Flesch Reading Ease chart. It goes without saying that content that your visitors can’t easily understand (particulalry mobile users, who are more likely to scan text than read it) will lower your conversion rate. Remember, tools like this will make sure your content is easy to grasp, but that doesn’t necessarily say that your content is quality for website visitors. Spend some time crafting your page text.
- Security: having SSL/HTTPS offers a minor boost to your website in search rankings and also conveys to your potential customers that they are shopping with security. With the introduction of GPDR in the EU from May 2018, you may need to restructure how and what data your website collects and stores. I don’t have a resource for this, but it is most definitely something that you should consider.
Redesigning Your Website
If you’ve identified areas for improvement in next to all of the above, your business has refocussed it’s target market or is looking to completely overhaul it’s appearance and functionality online, it may be time for a new website. A complete redesign and development would mean building a new website from the ground up, making this the most expensive option.
You’ll go through the process of discussing your requirements, what you’d like to achieve via the website – sales, email sign ups, bookings, enquiries and so on. With a clear understanding of how you’d like your website to look and what you’d like to achieve, your chosen web agency can begin to craft your new website.
Optimising Your Existing Website
Unless it’s abundantly clear that your website was designed and deployed in 2004, it is by no means a lost cause. Using the tools previously mentioned, you can quickly highlight areas for improvement and prioritise from there. Rather than a website redesign, we tend to call this ‘website maintenance’ as large sections of your website may stay the same or work the same, but the overall product is fixed and improved.
My recommendation would be to tackle issues in this order, though you can achieve the same end-goal in any order.
- Conversions: look at any existing data you have (if applicable). Before reworking your website in any way, you need a clear plan of the path you want website visitors to take, which usually takes the form of a flow chart. Once a visitor finds your homepage, what do you want them to do next? Plan your call to actions, your category structure and how you’ll fit all of your pages into easily accessible menus.
- Responsive: before you plan on actually drawing in any extra website traffic, you should ensure that your website is easily accessible and usable on all devices – desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile.
- Speed: website speed should be at the forefront of the mind of any web designer or front-end developer. It should be built into your website and not an after-thought. Whilst your agency works to make your website responsive, remind them it should be fast. Image and file compression/minification and caching are your friend.
- Security: when working with a web agency to ensure your website is responsive, they’ll be working through the code behind your website anyway. This makes now a great point to add extra security in the form of HTTPS and SSL.
- Content: regardless of who visits your website and on what device, if your content is substandard then you’re going to lose customers. Do not spend on marketing before you have perefected the look and content of your website.
- Optimisation: by this point, your website should look great, work great and read great. Now it’s time to up your optimisation so that this great new version of your website is found in search engines, the likes of Google, Bing and more. The points below are trivial, and extensive optimisation involves much more work that should be left to professionals – you don’t want to see Google remove your website entirely!
- Meta Data: ensure that your website has appropriate optimisation meta data – title and description as a bare minimum. Tools like WordPress SEO will populate this for you as you fill out the SEO section on each page.
- Image Tags: images can have both title and alt attributes – fill these in for each imae on your website appropriately.
- Valuable Links: include useful links across your website and in your content to external websites, and try and get other (quality) websites to link to your website. Search engines like information and authority – if it can be presumed that you’re influential in your sector and your website has lots of useful information then you’ll see yourself climb the search rankings.
- Work you’ve already done! Yes, really! Factors such as SSL and website speed are contributing factors to helping your website improve position in search results.