5 Metrics That Affect The Success Of Your Website Redesign

When you’re undertaking a website redesign it can be tempting to rush in with the excitement of new possibilities, but it’s important to consider the key aspects of a redesign, both aesthetically and from a business perspective. In order for the process to be successful these two must be aligned if the new website is to provide a high return on investment.

Undertaking a thorough review of your existing website is essential, along with evaluating your content, analytics and calls to action to see how well each is currently performing. If you haven’t re-designed in some time, the online social landscape has changed dramatically, and if you want your business to thrive, you need to embrace both social media and technology to efficiently deliver your product or service to a wide audience. Once the re-design is finished don’t leave it to gather dust. Aim for constant measurement and enhancement. Analyzing your redesign efforts with these five key areas will help you develop a cohesive plan and ensure your re-design is a success.

1. Content

If your website content isn’t making it immediately clear what you do and offer, and why your visitors should care, then your website may never meet your business expectations. If you’re planning a website redesign, then your content should be one of your first considerations. Preparing a content audit is an excellent place to start, which means taking stock of current assets such as web pages, articles, videos, images, files, FAQ’s and so on. Once you have this done, look for what information is missing and also what needs to be reworked. It’s also important to analyze which pages most visitors are landing on, and ensuring that these are updated to convert and drive revenue. This can be achieved through the Landing Page report in Google Analytics. Creating content by first understanding what works and what doesn’t on your current site ensures you make informed decisions. As noted designer and author Jeffrey Zeldman wrote, “content precedes design”.

The primary purpose of your website is to deliver valuable content, so while aesthetics are important, taking a “clear calls to action to turn visitors into customers is one of the most important undertakings when redesigning and developing your new website. By designing content first you strip everything away and focus on what’s important, with a more efficient project process, fewer design iterations, and a website that more accurately meets your business goals.

2. Customer driven design

Visitors often judge how a website looks before evaluating its content. If they immediately don’t like your design or are confused by it, they will leave, so design plays a huge role in people’s perception of your business and it’s credibility. In order for your redesign to be successful you first need to look at your current site and investigate thoroughly what’s working, what isn’t, what goals it’s fulfilling and where significant improvements can be made. Clearly defining your audience will also help you make grounded design decisions. Using heat maps and tools such as Crazy Egg, will help you understand how users interact with your website, and where you can make changes that increase conversions. A redesign is a chance to really involve your customers, and get feedback from users, finding out what is most important to them. This can also help manage expectations as to what to expect from the new design. During the design phase you can incorporate some of the new elements you’re planning into your existing site, this can be incredibly valuable in seeing what effect it has on existing traffic, testing small changes can validate your future design decisions.

Of course care should be taken with the basic design itself, as investing in a modern, uncluttered, unique design with a consistent layout and style can increase engagement significantly. The UI should be usable, clear and easy to use and understand, with a defined content hierarchy. Positioning of critical site elements should be predictable, and imagery should be high quality, avoiding using stock, over-used images which is often seen as ‘cheesy’. Your color scheme should complement your content, as annoying, super bright color schemes can quickly annoy your users. Choose legible fonts which can be read quickly and easily, with proper letter and line spacing, using size and font weight to differentiate between headlines, sub-headings and paragraphs. Ultimately your redesign should not only improve the aesthetics of your website, but also increase conversions, and achieve your business goals.

3. Responsiveness

With mobile device usage continuing to rise, it is more important than ever to optimize your website for all platforms, in order to attract the largest number of visitors possible. If you make it a pain for your visitors to browse or checkout on your website on their mobile devices then you are losing potential customers. Responsive design means a website is built to ensure it’s content and structure scale well on all devices, providing a better user experience. Taking a responsive approach to your redesign has long-term benefits, as it negates the need for a separate mobile site, and makes managing content quicker and easier. While taking a completely device-agnostic approach to the design can be too strict and impractical, it’s beneficial to let the website respond to it’s environment and adapt fluidly, rather than trying to target every individual screen and device. This can be achieved by building on a fluid grid based on percentages rather than pixels, using media queries to define breakpoints, removing non-essential content on smaller screen sizes and ensuring media scales depending on the screen resolution.

Google has also taken a clear stance on responsive design, recommending the use of CSS3 media queries, so all devices are served using the same URL and HTML across devices. This method enables Google’s algorithms to assign the indexing properties to crawl your content. Using responsive front-end frameworks that are designed and built with responsive design from the start could speed up your development time. Smart frameworks such as Foundation or Bootstrap allow for rapid prototyping, with no need for calculations as all the responsive grids are included. It’s always important to remember throughout the responsive design and development phase that websites are built for people, not devices.

4. Social media integration

“No man is an island”, and neither is your website! Incorporating social media into the very core of your website will allow you to reach potential customers and increase the reach of your brand. Your website and social media platforms should work seamlessly together, providing consumers with fresh, relevant and consistent updates. Make it easy for your users to connect from your website to all your social media platforms, providing social share and like buttons on your landing pages, blog posts and product and service pages, along with installing plugins for the major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+. However just don’t place and forget about them, include a call to action with each one and direct your users to use them. Allow social logins, so users don’t have to go through a lengthy registration process, and can simply login using one of their social media accounts. This also creates the opportunity to create and share specialized content and targeted promotions, which reduces bounce rates and increases customer acquisition.

Highlight user-generated content on your website, as sharing images, videos and reviews from your customers will create trust, and encourage engagement. Showcasing user-generated content creates a more personal buying experience, allowing potential customers to feel connected to your brand. You can also create a more social environment on your website by using social based comment systems, such as Facebook comments or Disqus, as users can share their thoughts and converse within their favorite social channel. Using real-time stats and showing what products are trending socially is a unique way to draw interest, this can be achieved by implementing a ‘popular product feed’. Not only will this peak the interest of potential customers, but you can use the data to gain deep insights into your consumers. Invest in a dedicated social media page, services such as RebelMouse or Tint lets you aggregate your social network feeds onto a single page which you can include as part of your website, along with showcasing user-generated content. However be mindful of incorporating social media activity within your website where it makes sense, don’t sacrifice user experience just to cram buttons into your design.

5. Speed and performance

Speed is no longer an afterthought when it comes to designing a website, it’s now a feature. Simply re-using your current structure isn’t enough, performance should be factored in from the start of the planning phase. A slow loading website means your losing visitors on a regular basis, turning away potential clients and negatively affecting your search engine ranking. A Google study reported that every additional 100 milliseconds of load time can decrease sales by one percent. Asking each visitor to spend more than a few seconds waiting to view a web page while all the assets load, is a sure fire way to ensure they don’t return or explore deeper into your website. It’s worth taking the time to review each asset and object on your current website and asking if they are absolutely necessary, and if so, how can they be optimized.

A redesign means brand new code, possibly a new platform, and an opportunity to implement a structure that will provide flexibility as you grow. Instead of simply shoe horning in tools, assets and plugins from your existing website, investigate new solutions in a bid to serve a more streamlined experience to your users. Building for performance means using optimized, clean CSS, and focusing on re-purposable code which results in smaller CSS and HTML files, and also saves loading time. Minimizing JavaScript requests by only loading it when absolutely necessary, and optimizing images, using sprites and icon fonts when possible, will provide a significant speed boost. Utilize a CDN that offers speed, security and scalability, enabling you to serve both dynamic and static content from an optimal location (to each visitor), at the fastest possible speed.

Have you recently redesigned your website? If so, share your tips with our readers in the comments below.

Source: mashable.com