Part 5: Designing Your Website
Alright, here we are at the design phase of the website redesign. A lot of people consider design to be the first step of a website redesign project. But, in reality, there are several steps both before and after that are equally or more important. If you just landed here, check out the planning page before continuing.
If you’ve made your way through all the previous steps in this website redesign guide, you should have an idea of how to lay the groundwork for redesigning a website, which means it’s time to move on to the actual design phase.
Use design to achieve your business goals
In previous chapters we’ve discussed how a website redesign should help accomplish business goals. During the design phase, we’re going to use the design of the site to achieve these goals.
For example, if one of your business goals is to get more sales on your website for a specific product or service, you could add the product or service to a prominent banner on your homepage.
Or, if one of your business objectives is to increase the number of contacts you get from mobile users, a design goal should be to create a mobile-friendly user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
Design Websites for People
When you design a business website, you’re designing it for a real human being.
Make sure you design your new website for the people who are your potential customers. It doesn’t matter how much your CEO likes the website if your customers hate it.
Here are things that potential customers do with websites:
- They have problems, so they want solutions
- They have questions, so they want answers
- They are busy, so they don’t have a lot of time to click things
- They are scared, so they need to be reassured
- They get overwhelmed, so they need less choices
- When they’re serious about buying, they will read and watch everything
- When they see typos and grammar mistakes, they will leave
- When the website takes forever to load, they will leave
- When they don’t know the general price range, they will leave
- When it’s hard to contact you, they will leave
It is really easy to leave a website. It takes a split second. You want to make sure your new design doesn’t make potential customers leave. Do this by providing solutions, answers and easy navigation that appeals to your ideal customers.
Use an SEO-friendly Design
Search engines are still an excellent source of qualified traffic so your website should show up when potential customers are searching.
In order to do that, it really helps to work with someone who knows about designing websites for search engines. Ideally, they get involved in the design process sooner rather than later. You’d get the best results by working directly with a search engine expert instead of relying on a designer who knows a little about SEO.
That being said, you shouldn’t prioritize designing your website for search engines over designing it for people. The value of optimizing your site for search engines is that it will help your business show up in Google search results, which helps create more potential leads by getting the right people to the site. The right people focused design will often result in a strong search engine ranking.
Prioritize Mobile Over Desktop Design
Simply put, more and more people are using mobile devices to connect with businesses.
In 2018, Google switched to mobile-first indexing, meaning they are using the mobile version of your page, or what shows up when people go to your website on a phone, as the ranking.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to design the mobile version of your site before designing the desktop version.
A lot of people think of responsive design as creating a desktop version of a site and then translating it to a mobile-friendly version. But it should be the other way around: the design process should really center around mobile devices first, and the desktop version should be based on that design.
Be Web Developer Friendly
Most developers will require you to send specific design files and they may have their own process for organizing the files. Make sure you discuss with the developers before your designers start working.
Design files should be set up in a way that helps, not hinders, the developers working on the site. The last thing you want to run into are last-minute hurdles that prevent your developers from working on the site and delaying things.
The Importance of Layouts
We discussed page layouts in our content planning phase. You need to know the number of web page layouts you will need for your website. Failing to know this will cause your costs to skyrocket as designers do needless designs that then get developed.
Common Design Phase Issues
Here are common issues you may encounter during the design phase.
Trying to launch at 100% instead of 85%
Don’t spend too much time trying to get everything to be 100 percent perfect. It’s better to launch at 85 percent perfect versus never launching at all. Should you launch a mediocre, broken website that will hurt your business? Of course not. But know when something is good enough to make it live and tweak it to make it better.
You’re never going to be able to replicate “real world” testing during the development phase. Use the data you have, launch something good and then test it to make it great.
Letting a person of authority derail the design process
I’ve seen websites drown in the design phase for over a year because of things that were important to somebody internally who had authority. I’ve worked with CEOs who insist on designing the homepage themselves using Microsoft Paint.
A website redesign isn’t creative playtime so it should be left to the professionals and your customers. Think about your most important customers first and prioritize their experience over internal feedback unless the people have really good reasons. Generally speaking, this excludes the sales team. They usually have a great idea of what customers want and you should include their feedback in a redesign.
Failing to understand where the website generates customers from
It’s really important that you understand how leads are generated on the website before you go changing things. It’s easy to break page URLs, remove content and generally screw up your lead generation machine. Understand your website analytics and if you don’t, get someone involved who does.