July 09 2020

Preparing for a Website Redesign

Preparing for a website redesignYou’ve decided it’s time for a website redesign. Maybe your current site is outdated and hard to navigate, challenging to update internally or isn’t working hard enough to provide the ROI your business demands. Once you’ve decided a redesign is necessary, there are a few things to get in order before kicking off the process with an agency.
Redesigning your website is a big project, but proper planning, research and preparation can help make your website redesign successful. Take the following steps to prepare for a website redesign:

  1. Define your goals and your budget

  2. Identify what’s working on your current site and what isn’t

  3. Research top competitors and other sites you like

  4. Audit your brand and develop guidelines

  5. Gather recent marketing samples

  6. List out your must-haves

  7. Provide access to Google Analytics and third-party vendors

Define Your Project Goals

Why do you want to redesign your website? While a new site can accomplish many things, it’s helpful to understand your main goals and driving force. Common reasons for a redesign include updating an old look, creating a better user experience, adding new functionality or content, supporting a refreshed brand and better supporting marketing efforts to increase the number of visitors to your site.
Assess how your business goals may have changed since your last site redesign. Are there new audiences you’d like to target or functionalities you’d like to include? Are you hoping to attract more or different users? Consider all the things your new site should accomplish and be prepared to talk through them. At this stage, it’s also important to have a sense of your budget so you can determine what might be possible initially and which efforts might be deferred to a subsequent phase. 

Identify What’s Working and What Isn’t

When asking yourself what’s working on your current site, sometimes this answer is “nothing”. While this is perfectly acceptable as a starting point, you can often find a couple elements that are effective. These are important things to know because if something isn’t broken, it probably doesn’t need to be fixed. If your users are accustomed to a certain feature and are using it successfully, it may be wise to preserve certain aspects to keep users comfortable.
A huge opportunity when going into a website redesign is to outline what doesn’t work on your current site. For instance, your site may not have enough promotional space, or calls-to-action may not be as consistent or prominent as they should be. Users might be frustrated with the navigation, or it may be difficult to update your site administratively. Clearly outlining the disadvantages of your current site can help your redesign team solve them. 

Make a List of Sites You Like

Looking at other websites—both within and outside of your industry—can help you get a sense of how your new site might evolve. Scroll through the homepage, click to different internal pages and get feel for what you’re drawn to. Be sure to look at both desktop and mobile versions of the site.
Where does your eye seem to travel? Are you actually reading the content? Is it easy to click through to other pages? What else do you like about this site? Think about what you don’t like as well. Perhaps the homepage seems cluttered, or the promotional space is too far down the page. Making a list of sites you like and don’t like will help guide your website to become a useful and engaging tool. Share these examples to ensure you and your team are on the same page. 

Compile Your Brand Guidelines

Your brand is everything that makes you who you are. It’s how you differentiate your business from your competitors. Your brand is your personality and includes your logo, colors, fonts, tone and style. It’s important that your website reflects your brand to create a seamless experience across all platforms and locations.
Brand guidelines help create a design style that all your marketing materials, including your website, should follow. Prepare to provide your core brand colors in RGB or HEX, as well as any secondary colors. Your digital agency will discuss how fonts are used and any typographic styling that should be applied. Your agency will be looking for guidelines to follow when choosing photography and any other brand textures, details or elements that make up the visual look of your brand.

You’ll also need to provide your logo in vector RGB, which means the logo can be scaled up or down without losing any resolution or getting blurry. Ensure your brand guidelines are up to date, and be prepared to share them with your agency.  If a redesign or rebrand is planned, the website redesign project should immediately follow. 

Gather Your Marketing Materials

Compiling recent marketing samples can help your redesign team establish the look and feel of your new website. It’s important to have a consistent design, tone and message across all channels to create a uniform experience. Your audience will expect continuity across your website, apps, social media channels, print materials and in-person locations. Use recent social posts, pamphlets, emails, posters and other traditional marketing samples to set the stage for your new site. If your brand has changed since these materials were developed, or will be changing in any way, it’s important to communicate these details to your digital agency. 

Plan Your Content Strategy

Decide on the kind of content your new site must support, as well as your desired voice and tone. Your content can go a long way in developing relationships, building trust and conveying expertise. Do you prefer a friendly, approachable tone or an air of authority? This can dictate not only the copy that’s written but also the imagery, design elements and treatments selected.
Different content types support the user journey and allow your audience to interact with your site. Common examples include homepage promotional space, calls-to-action, educational resources, testimonials and comparison charts. Identify the features and functionalities your new site must include and be ready to share examples of other sites that do this well. You’ll also have to determine if you have the resources in-house to take on content writing and strategy, or if you’d like the help of an agency. More often than not, an agency will help with this initiative. 

Provide Access to Analytics & Third-Party Vendors

When it comes time to kick off your website redesign, ensure all partners have access to your website analytics accounts. Website analytics will help your redesign team gain valuable insight into how your current site is performing and where its strengths and opportunities lie. If you have other relevant analytics, such as a heatmapping platform, this can also inform your site strategy.
Looking at your current website will provide valuable insight when it comes to designing a new one. You can gather data on how many people visit your site and what actions they take. Your team will establish a performance baseline and compare it against your business goals, then use that to fuel your site strategy.
It’s also important to provide information about your current third-party vendors, such as your login portal and account opening functionality, as well as any plans to onboard new vendors. This will enable your team to build a strategy that supports these integrations and ensure a seamless transition for your website users.
When it comes to redesigning your website, the idea is to take all the information you provide, then layer in best practices, industry research and user experience trends. Some preliminary research can help set you on the right track. With proper planning and preparation, an agency like ZAG will be able to take your vision bring it to life. Contact us today to learn more or get started.

  • Branding
  • Content
  • Copywriting
  • Website

posted by
Melissa Mahony
Melissa Mahony
Associate Art Director

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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