Redesigning a website can seem like an insurmountable task. A few weeks of careful forethought and planning make the process easier. You can choose which aspects of your current site to apply to the new site and which to eliminate.
Love the way the site is organized, but dislike how difficult it is to update? Or maybe your site was visibly designed 10 years ago? As outlined in a previous post, the most compelling reasons for a redesign include: 1) the website uses previously-dominant development techniques, 2) the design and content don’t reflect your business, and 3) the site suffers from low traffic. Luckily, you can remedy these problems with your new site.
Two key ways to evaluate your website are gathering customer and internal feedback and analyzing your Google Analytics reports.
1. Customer and Internal Feedback
Since your customers are representative of your target audience, their opinions are invaluable. Can they easily find the information they need on the site? Ask them how often they visit the site and if the structure makes sense. You can collect your clients’ feedback through informal conversations or more direct methods. Email a short survey to your clients, or send a hard copy with a stamped envelope.
If you work with a team, some of the same tactics can be used for gathering internal feedback. What are your co-workers experiences with the site? Does the design accurately represent the company? Upon launch, you and your team members should be proud of your site and anxious to share it with potential customers.
2. Google Analytics
If you have Google Analytics installed, part of the planning process should involve combing through its data. The software reveals helpful information such as the number of people visiting your site, where they are geographically based, and what sites referred them.
Google Analytics allows you to evaluate your site content. To view which pages are the most popular, login and select your profile. Click “Content” in the left nav and then “Site Content” and “All Pages” in the dropdowns. The report on the right will rank your pages according to pageviews. Which pages on your site are viewed the most and least? Click the “Avg. Time on Page” column header to sort the content based on time spent on pages.
Under the “Site Content” dropdown, you can also view your site’s “[tooltip title=”” content=”Instead of first visiting the home page, some users enter the site via a subpage or landing page.” type=”classic” ]Landing Pages[/tooltip]” and “Exit Pages.” Can you replicate aspects of your top landing pages? At minimum, note their URLs so you can incorporate them into the new site. Conversely, the site’s top exit pages require examination. Why are they sending visitors away? The design, functionality, and content of your exit pages are areas you should consider.
Instead of rushing into wireframing and design stages, you can learn from the strengths and shortcomings of your current site. The feedback and reports you gather can inspire your redesign goals. At the end of your evaluation process, you can create a website that meets your business needs.