5 biggest mistakes when redesigning a website
When redesigning or retooling a website, you need to pay attention to many key aspects that will really improve your website. If you don’t, all the rework will be for nothing and your redesign may even become worse than the previous version. That’s why we at Tinyboat will give you some tips on how to pay close attention to what is important when redesigning your website.
1. Designing without functionality and development in mind
This might be the biggest mistake people make on their website. Getting this piece right means that your site is effective, not just beautiful. Launching an effective website means:
- It can rank in search and nudge your visitors toward desired actions.
- It allows for seamless functionality and data processing across platforms.
- You can edit and add pages, and manage your website post-launch, with the ease and flexibility you expect.
- Your site is mobile friendly.
- Getting it wrong means none of that happens, and you have a lot of website rework ahead.
Your website must also be designed to bring in target audience traffic and convert potential customers. While brand marketers should have their say about visuals, user experience (UX) designers and developers should be as involved to partner on core functional aspects like:
- Information architecture and navigation
- Calls to action
- Content hierarchy
- Platform integrations and data storage expectations
- Back-end search and social attributes
On pages, let’s break down the individual elements of content. Depending on the content management system (CMS) your website is being built in, content elements within web pages may be called widgets, page blocks, blocks, containers, fragments, components, items, or something similar.
What’s most important as a marketer is to be sure of two things:
1 - Blocks should be designed and developed with flexibility in mind. Think about the layout of information and how you want website visitors to interact with elements, or move from one page to another, across the various page and content types.
Instead of thinking about how you’d want something like a featured webinar (for example), to look, think, “when we feature any piece of content, we’ll want to include a heading, an image, teaser copy, and a way to click to that content.” Having those content guidelines will help the design and development team create a template that houses those elements seamlessly for all of your featured content.
This content block is promoting a webinar, but with a flexible design mentality, you’d want to use the same design to feature an ebook, case study, report, etc.
2- Talk with your design and development teams about defining requirements for all page blocks. You’ll want to define requirements for both the author (the person updating the website) and the end-user (your site visitors).
Lastly, you want a website with content that can be updated by non-technical people. That means you should limit the need for HTML and CSS knowledge, technical understanding, and photo-editing skills for regular, ongoing site updates.
2. Not checking and preserving existing page rankings
Even if your company isn’t focused on SEO, your site likely ranks—or is close to ranking—for some terms. Check what your website currently ranks for, and which pages are performing, and coordinate content and development teams to preserve those rankings — especially if the URLs will be changing.
How do you see what keywords your website is ranking for?
There are several ways to find this information, including Moz and SEMRush, and also for free using Google Search Console. If you have GSC connected with Google Analytics, you can find ranking keywords under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. (If you don’t have these tools connected, find out how here.)
On your new site, you probably don’t want to remove or dramatically edit these pages.
Enter a term you want to write a page about in “Explore by Keyword.” Moz shows the estimated search volume, difficulty, and competitive insights about it, as well as a list of similar terms to consider.
3. Not trashing underperforming content
Now that you know what terms and pages rank and what to preserve, what about everything else? A website redesign is a great opportunity to audit your website’s content and trim the fat.
Letting go of outdated, under-performing content does three great things:
- Leaves you with less content to have to replicate on the new site
- Gives you a cleaner, easier-to-manage content environment moving forward
- Provides only the highest quality content for your visitors
4. Working on design and copy separately
What comes first, copywriting or design? In my experience, this is the web world’s chicken-and-egg question.
Copy often needs to be a certain length for design, conversion and SEO purposes. Conversely, content needs will likely dictate page templates, page types and page block design tweaks. This is why your design and copy teams should collaborate closely.
Longform content tends to perform better in search. But modern design for core web pages favours short and punchy copy with lots of content blocks and visuals. It’s important to think about this when planning your content mix and appropriate layouts for the types of pages your site will have.
5. Not having a post-launch plan for ongoing optimization
Building a new website can feel like running a marathon, but day one (OK, maybe day two) post-launch should be the start of the next. How are you going to make your website work for you?
Website design and development projects are focused on getting a new and better site live while balancing analysis, speed, budget, and results. To meet those requirements, you probably launched a minimal viable product, and have a long—and thoughtful—“let’s do that next” list. But now you need a plan to tackle it.
Consider how your needs for the following have changed, and either build the right internal structure or partner with an agency—or both—to meet your new digital marketing demands.
- Content creation: copywriting, images, interactive content
- Page editing and authoring
- Performance analysis and reporting
- Performance testing and iteration
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- CRO (conversion rate optimization)
- Digital, brand, content, and content marketing strategy
- Content management and operations
- Ongoing website design and development
The best websites leave room for improvement once they see real-world visitors and customer behaviour. And one of the biggest content marketing mistakes you can make is to launch a new website and rarely touch it.
Digital ink is never dry. Users, markets, and businesses are constantly changing. Your website and web strategy need to continually adapt to stay competitive—and get ahead.
Put content first and you can avoid the biggest mistakes people make with their websites.