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10 tips for redesigning your website

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Nigel Morrison's avatar
Nigel Morrison

There is no better or more cost-effective way to market your business than online.  A 24/7 showcase for your products or services, taking your business online lends credibility to your reputation and gives you instant access to a huge marketplace.

But doing business online isn’t just about having a website, it’s about making sure that website is up-to-date, responsive and working hard for you.  Web standards change regularly and so do customer expectations, so if your site’s a few years old, chances are it’s delivering a less than optimal user experience – and that means it’s time for a redesign.

Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand new enterprise, or giving your existing website an overhaul, there are some golden rules you should always adhere to.  We did a quick poll of our team across design, web, content and digital and pulled together our top ten tips for building or redesigning your website…

1. Purpose is paramount

Within seconds of landing on your homepage, visitors should have a clear picture of what you or your business is about, so it’s vital that the branding is consistent, the images are illustrative of what you do, and the messaging is clear.

As the site owner, you also need to have a clear picture of what you want your site to do.  Is it an e-commerce site designed to drive online buying?  Are you trying to generate leads for your sales team to follow up?  Are you providing information and support?  A clear objective is a vital part of the blueprint for designing and populating your new site.

2. Customer first

Great websites are always designed with the customer in mind.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what your website can do for your business, and forgetting to think about what it can do for your customer. Taking ego out of the equation and putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is a powerful way to gain perspective that transforms a website into an interactive platform with the power to influence and persuade.

3. Planning nerds rule

Site navigation can make all the difference between a customer staying to make a purchase, or bouncing off to one of your competitors.

Site nav must be clear and simple and one of the best ways to achieve this is to unleash your inner nerd with a block of sticky notes.  Start by writing down a list of potential ways your site can offer value for the customer – for example, by providing information, offering an opportunity to buy products, or allowing them to get in touch with you.  Then write down the types of content that would serve these purposes on one sticky note per purpose – e.g. a blog, a product listing, a contact page.  Stick the notes to a wall or whiteboard and move them around until you’ve got a clear picture of what pages your customer needs to complete their online journey.  Et voilá – a site map!

4. Mobile is non-negotiable

In the UK, people spend more time browsing online via their smartphones than they do on their computers.  This is a no-brainer.  Your website – new or old – MUST be mobile optimised and for many businesses, it may even make sense to design a ‘mobile-first’ site.

5. The need for speed

What do you do when a website is taking ages to load?  You go elsewhere.  Patience is not a virtue of the average 21st century human being so if your site is slow, your bounce rate will be high.  Google also ranks pages by speed, so a slow site will be harder to find.  You can maximise the speed of your site by investing in a good-quality web hosting with a reputable provider and making sure that all of your content is optimised for speed.  This means compressing image files and using video hosting services and/or content delivery networks (CDNs) to make sure your site is fast and responsive no matter where in the world it’s being viewed.

6. Content is king

Customers come to your website looking for information, and inspiration – so make sure you give it to them!  Every website worth its salt should have a blog or news section.  Good quality content helps to build brands by demonstrating knowledge and authority in their industry.  Potential customers visiting your site want to see that your website is actively being updated – this increases trust.  Relevant, fresh content is also vital for getting found in organic Google searches.

7. Plugin, baby

We’re talking Search Engine Optimisation here.  If you plan to manage your own site content then you’ll need a basic working knowledge of SEO to make sure Google can find your site and show it to your customers.  A plugin like Yoast is a great way to do this – once installed, it’ll help you to identify easy ways to optimise your content for maximum search engine visibility.  Yoast also has loads of its own online content to help you brush up your SEO skills.

8. Ask away

Visitors to your site are often looking for more information before they make a decision or a purchase – and if you can be the one to answer their questions effectively, there’s a good chance you’ll win their business too.  Think carefully about what your customer wants to know – about your product/service, or about your industry in general – and compile these questions into an FAQ section with thoughtful, informative answers.  Not only will you win people’s trust by providing a free service, you’ll save your customer service department hours and hours of time answering the same questions by phone or email over and over again.

9. Let’s talk

In the same vein as FAQs, a Live Chat function helps to scratch your customer’s itch for more information in real time.  People hate waiting for anything these days, so if they can speak to someone right there and then via their computer, it’s a major plus point for your business.  Live Chat services are easy to set up and manage even for small businesses – out of hours the system works as a contact form, so you can answer the query next day.

10. Make it measurable

The whole point of this new site it to get more business, right?  So how will you know if it’s working?  Including certain features on your site can make a big difference to how many visitors actually convert – and that doesn’t always mean buy.  Contact forms, thank you pages, clear call to action (CTA) buttons, downloadable resources and links to social media channels are all actionable features on your website that are easy to track, so you can clearly see when your site is working well.

Ready for the next step?  We’d love to chat about your upcoming web ambitions. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.

Click here to see the client website featured in this post.