“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. This saying I absolutely agree with is attributed to different personalities from Benjamin Franklin to Winston Churchill and Hillary Clinton. Whoever was the first to utter these words, it would be hard to overestimate the truthfulness of being said.
If you think a website redesign is a complex process - you aren’t mistaken. Based on our solid experience in website design, we can prove that it definitely is. Since the redesign project implies various tasks accomplishment and often involves internal and external teams, there should be some step-by-step plan all parties can refer to.
In this article, we will discuss why it’s important to create a website redesign project plan and the main milestones you should pass through on the way of your website redesign.
Why do I need a website redesign plan?
At least to have a project overview and the ability to control how the process goes.
The more people are involved in a redesign, the more stages the project has, the bigger the risks something will go wrong.
A few statistics to prove this thought.
According to Hubspot’s research,
- Only 49% of website redesign projects finish and launch on time
- For 31% of companies, it took one-two months longer than expected to launch a redesigned website
- 17% of websites launched more than three months later than was initially planned
- 63% of marketers had no idea how much their website redesign cost
- About 1/3 of marketers were not happy with their last website redesign
These figures tell us that obviously, some mistakes happened during the planning phase and negatively affected the redesign project results.
Among the issues you risk facing when you fail to plan are:
- Increased project cost
- Disappointed stakeholders
- Missed sales opportunities
- Delayed or canceled marketing activities
For sure, even with a plan, you can’t expect everything will go smoothly. It would be an ideal world if so. But still, having a website overhaul plan, even if some obstacles happen, you’ll come back on track faster.
With that said, I’d like to walk you through a suggested redesign plan you can use as a checklist embarking in your website redesign.
Website redesign project plan checklist
Although, to a certain extent, the design is an artwork, meticulous, analytical work stands behind any successful design (and redesign, as well) project. First and foremost, great website design provides customers with a seamless user experience, which directly impacts conversion and sales.
Thus, in the checklist below, most points are devoted to analysis, and only part of them - to the design itself.
Well, here goes.
Purpose: Clarify website stakeholders needs
How can you understand whether the project is successful or not? You need someone to show you that signal flag saying you’ve achieved the goal. Before starting a website redesign project, clarify all stakeholders’ expectations and needs, and understand what benefits they intend to get from a revamped website. In case the stakeholder is you, there should be no problem. Going further!
Goals: Set website redesign expectations
Setting proper goals is a halfway to success. Here are the most common targets of a website redesign. You can either focus on one key goal or achieve all mentioned below as they are going side by side.
Refresh website look & feel
The trends in design are changing pretty fast. In a year, your website will likely look outdated, losing to more in-trend competitors. If you plan to update the website appearance, you should decide whether it’ll be just a color and typography refresh or a complete website overhaul with changes in architecture, visuals, and content. Sometimes it’s uneasy to define whether you need a website redesign or refresh. We elaborate more on this topic in a separate article discussing when and how to redesign a website.
Enhance user experience
We aren’t making websites for ourselves but users. High bounce rate, low conversion, and short on-page time unobtrusively hint that there might be problems with UX. It’d be more effective to conduct a UX audit before redesigning to clearly understand where that bottleneck in customer experience is. You can do the UX audit with the help of your internal team or hire third-party consultants who have vast experience in auditing websites or apps UX by walking in users’ shoes.
Website traffic heavily depends on search engine optimization strategy and content. Needless to say, a company’s blog full of relevant, up-to-date materials is a “must” for attracting high-quality leads. Also, it’s crucial to make regular website performance analyses in terms of SEO ranking for main keywords. From SEO perspective, the redesign’s goal may be to embed essential keywords in new web pages’ content.
If website visitors don't take expected actions (leave contact data, subscribe, or purchase) and drop off a sales funnel on their way to checkout, more likely they have some difficulties interacting with a product. Then the redesign goal may be a customer journey enhancement, which should result in conversion growth.
Performance: Analyze essential metrics
It’ll be quite a long paragraph, but given the fact, it’s one of the most crucial ones, there's no way we could avoid diving into details.
Before getting started with your redesign project, analyze point A you’re at. Key metrics will help you understand what’s working well for your business and where those areas of improvement to focus your redesign efforts will be.
Below are the most common metrics to track (though you may choose other metrics depending on your business specifics).
- Traffic & traffic sources - it’s essential to evaluate whether there were some significant traffic surges related to some changes on your website. Traffic sources will show where leads mostly come from. If this isn’t an organic search, then probably you need to make your website more SEO-friendly during the redesign.
- Bounce rate - this metric indicates when a user literally “jumps off” the site without going to other pages. There should be some weak points you have a chance to find and fix when making the redesign.
- On-page time - there is no set time a user must spend on a webpage. However, if people stay only one minute on pages packed with valuable content you want them to read, it may evoke certain thoughts.
- User behavior - it’s one of the most crucial indicators of website “health” in terms of customer experience. The analysis of users’ behavior can provide you with precious insights on where they have frictions when interacting with the website and what obstacles they face on their customer journey.
- Conversion rate - it’s hard to underestimate the importance of this metric. You may not be selling directly from your website, yet you expect users to perform some desired actions like subscribe, leave contact data, start a trial, or request a demo. If people drop out on checkout, there are some reasons behind it.
- HVCs (High-Value Customers) - a predecessor (if I can say so) of this metric is CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). Your best customers bring you considerable revenue as long as possible, and their acquisition cost is comparatively low. Based on this metric, you’ll know what types of customers you need to attract to your website and create the appropriate content accordingly.
Cost: Define your redesign budget
Let’s come back to the figures I mentioned above. 63% of marketers weren’t aware of the total redesign cost. What does it mean? More likely, they went over budget that obviously frustrated stakeholders. Whereas it’s pretty difficult to gauge the exact amount you’d need to pay for the full redesign, you can start by setting a bottom line you won’t exceed when planning your project expenses.
Customers: Create user personas
The biggest mistake businesses make is to think of users as a “united whole.” Trying to sell to everybody leads to a poor understanding of actual people’s needs and, as a result, vague value propositions and unclear benefits. User personas will help you define who your real customers are and how you can speak to them through your website design.
Gather information about your ideal clients by talking to sales, analyzing users’ behavior flow, conducting customer interviews, and user testing.
Content: Prepare content before the redesign
When researching materials for this article, I came across a phrase I liked very much. “Content is water; the design is a cup.” Cool, right? There is a universal truth in these words. You need a cup that will exactly match the amount of water. Otherwise, you risk having either a half-full cup or a puddle on the floor.
Also, you’ll definitely want to avoid a so-called “content gap.” The content gap happens when you attract your ideal leads to the website but, for example, don’t have a relevant case study to prove your competence in the lead’s industry.
SEO: Research keywords and take care of redirects
We’ve already touched upon SEO a few paragraphs above, but I have more to say here. Whereas keyword research has paramount importance in ranking your website in Google, metadata are crucial as well. Meta title and meta description influence people’s decision to click the link.
And don’t forget about 301 Redirects. I can hardly recollect a more frustrating experience in the online world than seeing the message “This page doesn’t exist.” In fact, it does exist, but on a new URL that wasn’t tied to the old page after the website redesign.
Sitemap: Build website hierarchy
I’ll be now Captain Obvious saying that a sitemap is a website map. Sounds plain; however, thousands of websites overlook logical hierarchy making their customers perplexedly wandering from one page to another. If your product is what a customer critically needs, they probably would be patient enough to find what they’re searching for. In the worst case, a user will drop out wishing you “all the best.”
Wireframes: Sketch out new website interface
Once you build your sitemap, which we can imagine as a backbone, it’s time to create a “skeleton,” aka wireframe. It’s up to you and your design team, whether it’ll be just a simple freehand drawing or a high-fidelity wireframe created in a special tool. In any case, it should clearly show the place of each webpage element, such as shapes, boxes, text, images, and forms.
Website layout: Find the balance between beauty and usability
And when you’re done with the wireframe, create a website layout that will convey your brand look and feel. That means you should decide on typography, color scheme, and textures. All combined, these elements build a brand identity and unique customer experience. By the way, did you know that color is accountable for 85% of conversion?
Design & Development: Create and implement
You did a great job above. So, now leave designers alone with their muse and allow them to create the artwork. I don’t have any idea how this magic happens, but every time our designers send me the illustrations for the articles, I’m amazed by their stunning graphics.
Once the new design is born, the ball goes to the development team to breathe life into your website redesign project.
Wait, I forgot to mention…
Whatever fantastic the new design looks, it’s important to validate its workability with testing. You can actually do some usability testing at the wireframe stage in case you create a clickable prototype. The purpose is to understand if users can easily navigate through the website. Also, it’s worth checking how people perceive the messaging you embed into the content and whether they can seamlessly achieve their goal. To a certain extent, this relates to a customer journey, but this is a different story you read up in the next article.
Share this post with your community - perhaps, some of them are planning the website redesign right away.