After evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your current site, you should be ready to map your new site. Recording your redesign goals will help you during this and later stages. You may aim to increase business, strengthen brand perception, and better connect with current customers. Write your reasons down so you can refer to them as you progress through your project.
How will you address these goals? Your strategy can surround the site’s structure, visual perception, interactive features & functionality, platform, search engine optimization, and maintenance. Analyzing these six areas will jumpstart your redesign project.
Start by outlining your site structure. This should be a list of pages indicating hierarchy and a description of content for each page. You can repurpose your current site architecture if your visitors find it intuitive. Or start anew. Refer to competitors’ sites and examine their organizational ideas.
Keep in mind that online audiences often expect certain pages in [tooltip title=”” content=”A site’s universal navigation is the menu included on all pages.” type=”classic” ]universal navigation,[/tooltip] including: Home, About, and Contact. You may wish to include these pages in your main menu and meet their expectation.
When deciding on content placement, consider your existing resources and those you can create. Do you have a company logo, print materials, and branding specifications? What about photos and videos? Where can this content be used most advantageously? High-quality assets that complement your business will prove invaluable during the design phase.
Engaging copy likewise is essential. Short, informative paragraphs written specifically for the web should grace your pages. Decide now how this copy will be created. Are you going to write it yourself, or do you need to hire a copywriter? The lack of ready website copy is one of the most common missing site assets and will delay your project.
Whatever structure you finalize, consciously decide what will make sense to your visitors and highlight your company’s strengths.
2. Visual Perception
How should the site be perceived? Choose several descriptive adjectives that align with your brand. Should the design be modern, innovative, spare & minimalistic, sophisticated, rich & bold, or casual? Your choice will guide the design decisions and affect the overall website appeal.
3. Interactive Features & Functionality
Selecting the right interactive feature set will captivate your audience. A slideshow on the home page, for example, could showcase your best photos, promote your current campaigns, and present a refreshed front. Other functionality can make your pages more compelling while increasing usability. Depending on your site content and goals, you may consider enhancements such as accordion lists, social media integration, media galleries, custom Google Maps, and an e-newsletter signup.
Your site’s [tooltip title=”” content=”A CMS or Content Management System allow a website administrator to update the site content with little or no knowledge of code.” type=”classic” ]CMS[/tooltip] will affect multiple factors during site creation and after launch. The platform will determine which developers you can work with, the features you can incorporate, the speed of development, and how easily you can update the site. Popular platforms include: Joomla!, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, DotNetNuke, MODX, and WordPress. Quiz the experts on which will best satisfy your project requirements.
5. Search Engine Optimization
Is it important that Google indexes your company? If so, plan on optimizing your site for search engines. Decide on your keywords and weave them into the site copy. Ask your web developer to put these keywords into your site’s title tag. The developer can also add a sitemap, robots.txt file, and interlinks to improve SEO.
After your site launches, you can continue to work towards search-engine success. On an ongoing basis, seek inbound links from an array of sites. Possible targets are: search engines, internet phone books, directories, social bookmarking & social media sites, forums, and blogs.
Resolve to update your site on a regular basis. New, interesting content gives your customers a reason to revisit and interact with your company. How often can you commit to writing posts and adding new media? Be realistic in your commitments and build them into your schedule.
Though the planning process is detailed, reflecting on the above areas will help you form a sound project strategy. An effective, long-lasting website that satisfies your goals will reward all your efforts.