Website relaunches are not uncommon. Businesses can feel they’ve outgrown their website or that the design is tired, or it might be that your current solution no longer meets your complex business requirements.
An investment in a new website, or a more simple redesign, should never be taken lightly. It’s really important, especially when the costs are high, to ensure you’re getting the best return on your investment. Here are my tips to ensure you get the most out of your website relaunch or new website project. I’ll assume that you are an established business with good traffic levels and brand recognition already, but these tips are also applicable to smaller companies too.
1) What are your business objectives?
You might be wondering why I’ve included this in a guide to relauching your website. The fact is, it’s imperative your website designer/developer have a solid understanding of what you’re trying to achieve now and 3, 4, 5 years into the future, because this can have a huge impact on the solution you get.
Your business website should be a reflection of your current strategy and that of your business for the longer term.
To give a practical example, we worked with a large B2C company recently. One of the first things I asked them about was their strategy for the future, and it was during this conversation that we discovered their intention to grow into a multi-national business and to incorporate a B2B offering. This meant the solution we offered them for their new website had to perform as a B2C website now, and be able to expand to a multi-national B2B website in the coming 24 months.
Another customer approached us for a website relaunch and again, this preliminary discussion was essential because it revealed the business’ intention to acquire more businesses in the coming years and therefore the requirement for the website to be able to absorb those business’ websites too.
Be really clear on your business objectives and open about everything you’re trying to achieve, as it can all impact the final solution.
2) Where are we now?
This is the second question I always ask of clients when they want a new website.
Knowing what your current website achieves is an important part of planning your new website. It’s unlikely that your current solution is failing across the board, and far more likely that you’re simply outgrown it or need it to do more.
What does your current website do well?
If organic search is a big driver of traffic and leads to your business, and your website ranks well for its key terms, it’s important to recognise this and ensure you retain those elements that enable it to rank, such as on page content, meta data, schema and so on.
If your website converts really well, it’s important to keep those elements that lead to strong conversions in your new design.
Avoid losing any of the value of your current website by working out what it does well, now. This applies whether you’re the marketing director for a multinational business or the owner of a growing SME; don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
What struggles are you having with your current website?
You’ve come to the decision that you need a website relaunch because your current solution is missing something. So what is that?
For one international ecommerce client of ours recently, the website itself performed extremely well, with high rankings, strong traffic levels and conversion rates well above their industry average. But the functionality of the back end user database meant that the website wasn’t able to do a lot of what our client needed it to, and where the website was rebuilt from the back end, but the front end stayed the same.
It’s important to be clear on what you need your website to do, and to clearly scope that out with your team (in house or outsourced).
3) Where do you want to be?
This ties in really closely with your business objectives, but is more specific to the site itself.
What exactly do you need your website to be able to do – including things it does now?
Again, you don’t want to lose what you have if there are parts of it working for you now and equally, you need to be clear on what you want it to do in the future to ensure you can get there.
To use the example of our international ecommerce client again, their goal is to introduce a reseller model whereby third parties can purchase their products on behalf of customers. In order to do this, the technical implementation needs to be significantly different to that of their previous website. Therefore, it’s important to think not only about what you need now, but what you need well into the future, too.
4) What do we need to do to make it happen?
This is more about the top line deliverables, and this conversation tends to happen a little further down the line, once a client has decided they want to go ahead and clarified their goals.
Having a dedicated project manager to manage your new website is invaluable, because they can ensure all of your requirements are aligned and prioritised. My role here at Impression is to project manage all web builds, which I do so using the agile framework, which works really well for us and our clients. Be sure to have a clear management structure in place for your new website from the get-go.
Another thing to consider in your new website is how it’s going to perform once it’s live. If you already have good online visibility and get a lot of traffic, it’s important to retain that traffic and improve on it. Losing content, mis-redirecting pages, drastically changing high converting pages… all of this can impact your website’s ability to perform in the future. It’s part of our website relaunch process that we crawl your website and run a full SEO and usability audit, so we don’t lose any of those great features and are able, based on data, to make recommendations to improve.
This includes thinking about things like site architecture, content hierarchy, SEO and so on, as these things can all help your website to thrive and grow post-launch.
5) What are we going to do when we get there?
Launching a new website is only the first step. If you want your website to deliver a return on your investment, you need a plan to promote and grow it thereafter.
Even if you’re one of the biggest brands in the country, a website relaunch can have an impact on your rankings and traffic levels at first, so you might consider having paid advertisements in place to buffer against this during the go-live period. Putting a solid digital marketing strategy in place ensures your website has the best chance of outperforming its predecessor.
To summarise, strategy is the means through which we take control of the future. By having clear plans and answering the questions laid out here, your business can have a website relaunch without damaging your brand.