With all this downtime, it makes sense to tackle that absolute pain of a job you’ve been putting off for a while – redesigning your website!
Our organization isn’t exactly equipped to build your site from scratch – although, we understand the elements that go into creating one. After all, our creative director, Tom built ours with next to no experience. It just takes some basic understanding of user experience and a great deal of patience. The technical side, we’ll leave to the experts – or simply learn ourselves.
Websites are often your audience’s first impression of your brand, which only highlights the importance of having a site that provides value, is engaging, and reflects your company ethos. You want to make a good first impression and your website should demonstrate immediately why customers should choose your business.
According to Hubspot, the average website redesign takes 3-6 months and costs the average small-to-medium business US$15,000-$80,000. There are huge risks to developing or relaunching a website. Because of the high initial costs and time required, furthermore, it’s difficult to understand how much the website will impact on the bottom line until it’s been launched.
Websites are universally seen as critical to business for both sales and marketing, yet according to Hubspot, only 42 percent of marketers make impactful improvements to their website once or less a year. Considering how rapidly things change both in the business world and online, this is not enough to keep pace.
Methods of website design
The Growth-Driven method of website design, like many great processes, consists of three steps: Strategy, Launchpad, and Continuous Improvement. The key to this method is planning appropriately and making incremental improvements rather than implementing mass reconfigurations every couple of years. Let’s explore these three steps to intelligently launch or relaunch your company website.
The primary purpose of developing a strategy is to create an empathetic understanding of your audience and how your website can solve problems along their user journey. This is the time to establish business and website goals, determine audience needs and outcomes, and prioritising the focus areas for building your website.
When strategizing, you and your team should conduct user experience (UX) research, find the best practices for website design and check out your industry competitors’ offerings. It’s paramount to invest in your strategy early to ensure nothing goes over time or budget.
Target your Audiance
Next, you should build an audience persona and audience/user map – this will determine who your target market is, how to entice them to use your services, and how to best map your website design for optimal user convenience. It’s also helpful – if relaunching – to audit your current website. Here you’ll discover what’s working and what doesn’t in order to set benchmarks for your updated website.
Conduct an analysis your key competitors and positioning. Understand their key audience personas, content, website functionality, SEO targeting, and reviews from users. Ask yourself what these competitors do well and where you can improve on their style or technique. As you come to understand their unique value proposition and how it compares to yours, this will determine your position and messaging while highlighting your competitors’ shortcomings.
Then start thinking about your website as a resource for your business across its different departments – this means gathering their input, understanding their roles and goals, and how the website can help them excel. It’s about aligning business goals with employee and customer goals.
Next look at creating new-user flows. Equipped with your learnings from previous user mapping, you can minimise their effort in reaching the content they seek. This will help set your website architecture, just remember to focus on simplicity and user convenience. From here you’ll build out the architecture, including sections, pages, and menus. Beyond this, look at your at SEO strategy, keyword targeting, and technical setup/improvements to help boost your website’s discoverability.
Visibility and design
Now you need to look at branding and visual design considerations. It helps to have (or create) brand guidelines to ensure consistency of design and copy. All your website’s visual elements should benefit the user and assist in helping them navigate the site. It doesn’t hurt to build a moodboard here too – collect visual elements that you like or inspires you and compare these to the brand guidelines you must be adhered to.
The final strategy step is integrations and technical considerations, such as linking the website to other platforms and programs related to your business like intranet pages, social media profiles, CRMs, and legacy technology/systems.
A launchpad site is a quickly built (or rebuilt) website that should look and perform better than what you currently have – however it is not the final design. The reason it will be better that your previous efforts is because you now have a clear understanding of your user and business goals. Your launchpad is the foundation from which you build and optimise your site to reach those goals.
The strategy stage is critical not matter which launchpad method you use, because it allows you to understand your audience and business while mitigating risks prior to launch. With this in mind, let’s explore the different launchpad methods.
Is when you update an existing site into your initial launchpad. This method is particularly useful if your website is less than a year old or already performing well. Audit your current site for misalignments and service gaps, list all your necessary updates, workshop with staff for solutions, implement them, and then launch.
This method builds a new site from existing assets, content, templates, and designs. This can either be from pre-made assets you had developed or bought. These pre-built items set the foundation for adjustments and customizations necessary prior to launching.
You should start with a wishlist and perform 80/20 analysis to determine what 20% of ideas or items will solve 80% of your challenges or goals. Then decide which 20% items are crucial and use these for launch – don’t worry too much about the non-essential elements as these can be added later.
Launch and Expand:
Method deconstructs launchpad into phases. The first phase is to update global elements such as headers, footers, architecture, branding/design elements, and technology infrastructure. The second phase onwards means relaunching your highest impact pages in batches.
This method should be integrated into any launchpad method. Ensure your time and resources are invested into activities that’ll yield best results by reviewing your website goals and audit existing site to find pages that are high/mid/low impact based on those goals. Add new pages from your wishlist and develop a process for page categories beginning with highest impact.
With your launchpad site functioning, you should customise an acceleration program by running design sprint workshops for effective content development. As a team effort, it’ll be much easier to determine what works and what needs changing.
Launchpad help to collect data to see what performs well. And also use that data to make more informed decisions for your website design. These also take less time and resources to initially build, mitigating risks and ensuring your finished product is suited to your audience. With a launchpad site, you’ll be able to see the right results sooner.
Continuous Website Improvement
Once your launchpad has gone live and can collect data, you’ll be able to identify high impact actions that will improve your business. From here you should plan by determining the key focus areas, conduct UX research of your launchpad, brainstorm collectively, and build another wishlist.
Your wishlist should outline the top-action items so you can introduce a build sprint. Write action-item cards based on your audience personas, their situations/motivations, and what page or item addresses them to provide the right outcome or solutions.
With this information, you can then rebuild the pages necessary, working collaboratively to complete high impact action items, test their efficacy, and adjust. The trick is to learn by reviewing results, transferring those experiences by asking questions and creating consistency. Then repeat this process across all action items until your website suits your purpose and audience.
This three-step method of strategy, launchpad, and continual improvements takes the daunting task of website design and makes it much more management. To get some important tips on writing content for your website and more, download our Ultimate Guide. Or try mapping out your website design on our pre-made storyboard creator