Top 3 Mistakes We See Often
Mistake 1: Diving In Without Goals or Strategy
Doesn’t starting a new project give you this rush of adrenaline? You get so excited about the possibilities that you want to start right away. Ideas and images are overflowing in your mind, and you’re ready to make it a reality.
If that’s how you’re feeling about your company’s website redesign, that’s great. But stop right there.
A full-speed-ahead attitude won’t actually help you here. Instead of jumping ahead, start by setting goals (bet you’ve heard that one before). Without SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound) goals, you won’t have a plan for what your site should achieve. And if you don’t know what your website should do, what’s the point in spending so much effort on it?
For example, let’s say your goal is to gain 25% more contacts than last quarter. That will affect your redesign: You’ll need to plan on having more forms, calls-to-action and landing pages. But if you hadn’t set those goals, you wouldn’t know that! So before you get started, flesh out all of your goals.
Mistake 2: Not Basing Decisions on Numbers
Thought a website redesign wouldn’t involve math? Prepare yourself for some bad news.
While the website redesign process does include a ton of creative thinking, analytics and data are at the heart of it all. As we’ve talked about already, measurable (read: number-based) goals drive your redesign, so knowing your site metrics is essential. Before beginning the process, use data to assess what’s working and what’s not.
Skipping analytics could present two problems: First, you could change the things that are doing really well on your site (why fix what ain’t broke?). Second, you hold on to poorly performing website elements (you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results). Either way, you could be passing over opportunities to increase conversion rates and boost sales.
Instead, look at your site’s data before making any changes. Use the metrics to inform your redesign — and to assess it later on.
Mistake 3: Keeping The Same Content
Remember the last time you updated your website? You spent hours crafting clever turns of phrase and relevant information to display on your homepage, landing pages, and other site pages. But that doesn’t mean you can just hold onto that content as your redesign begins.
With changes in design, structure, and format, it makes sense that content needs to change, too. For example, your new site may place more emphasis on illustrations or videos, which means you can’t write as much. Or perhaps you’re creating a page that delves into the details of your product or service — you’ll need to write all new content to fill the page. Maybe you’re updating the site because of a shift in company culture, which means you’ll need to at least tweak some sentences to achieve the right tone.
And speaking of content, we’re not just talking about basic site pages. Your content strategy — which includes blogging, creating premium content, and providing helpful information to readers — should adapt to your website redesign. After all, you should have a premium content offer on every page, so if you have new pages, you might need new premium content. And if your site redesign is because of new services, your blog should reflect that, too.
You now know some of the challenges that might come up in a website redesign process, and knowing what you’re up against is half the battle. If you’re confident you can maneuver these obstacles and create an optimized site for your business, get started with the checklists available in our full eBook.
Hopefully, you recognize that under-par designs, lack of call-to-actions, and missing content for the right buying stage of your visitor can make a negative impact on your conversions.
There are many web designers who do not pay attention to these aspects of the site which is leading to missed results. You don’t need a “web designer” you need a “website marketer” to analyze the site’s design & flow and optimize it for conversions.
If you are also not getting the desired results from your online business, you need to redesign your website. You have to be a bit careful before you redesign your site.
First of all, you have to find out the things they’re hampering your business.
You should know the flaws in the design so that you can work on the same and redesign a better website. It may not be your field as you cannot be proficient in everything.
Therefore, you have to contact an expert team for redesigning your site in a proper manner. Only an expert can guide you and tell you the various options to make your site user-friendly.
If your website is not ready to convey what it should, then you should contact your web designer or sales and marketing director. There are many negative points in the designing that are overlooked, but they cause great harm to your business.
If your site allows the customers to do more clicks to the website or to experience distinctive pop-up advertisements keeping in mind the end goal to purchase something, then you are liable to lose potential customers.
Customers, particularly the new ones, will like to visit your website again and again if it is easily navigable. If there is no information about the different web pages, you will lose the customer.
Web designers need to guarantee that the client will get proper information about the questions that may come to his mind such as: what page did I saw last and what is my best course of action? In what capacity would I be able to come back to the landing page? Where am I now?
Individuals check your site since they are searching for something. At times, the data they are searching for is hidden to the point that it’s hard to try and acknowledge if you are in the ideal place or not.
One clear case for this situation is not giving data identified with the cost of an item you are showing on your site. If you are not giving proper information to the customer, he will lose interest in your product and will visit another website to get the similar information.
A web designer needs to keep up the website perfect as could be expected under the circumstances. Be cautious with the measure of substance, representation or advertisements that you incorporate into your site. Keep in mind that now and then, it’s great to have some clear space.
Inadequate content on your website will harm the way your web page can be utilized. It is basic to make your content emerge from the foundation of the page. What’s more, if you work on all the above issues, you can redesign your website in a better way to earn more money out of your online business.
Setting the right goals for the redesign project
It always serves you well to have a set of clear goals, especially when working with multiple stakeholders. In the case of MindTitan’s website redesign project, our goals were to:
- Show the company from the right angle. We wanted to come across as a trustworthy and professional international partner to large clients.
- Give a better representation of the company’s services and educate the audience. We planned to improve website functionality, add quality content and revamp the existing copy.
- Strengthen the employer branding. We wished for talented people to look at the company’s website and think “Damn I wanna work here.”
Ok, so these are the kind of goals a website redesign project should derive from – you’ve got to have a specific list of items you’d like to improve.
Here’s another list of arbitrary (and regrettably, popular) goals that should not be among your reasons for redoing website design:
- We want our website to look “nicer.”
- We haven’t updated our website for two years already.
- Our investor suggested that we do a web redesign.
Just don’t update your website if you don’t know why you’re doing it.
But… Anyway… Enough of ranting.
With a clear plan in hand, we set out to look for a designer/agency to take on the project – the trickiest part in website development in my personal opinion.
Whom to hire on your web design project?
At first, still loving to mess around with Sketch and Illustrator, I had a plan to do design mockups for the new website on my own and then send these to an agency for development. (Probably definitely a good thing we ended up hiring an agency.)
The reasons I first planned to do the designs on my own:
- I had a pretty clear vision of which elements and pages the website should include.
- It would have been (a bit) cheaper to do the design in-house.
- I didn’t know much about Estonian web design agencies, so I didn’t know which ones had good designers.
Now, looking back, here’s a list of the reasons why I am more than glad we hired an agency:
- Agencies have real web designers that know all about UX and how to design for the responsive web.
- These designers know how to collaborate with their in-house developers who will later implement your web.
- You will get a project manager to handle your project and communicate between all parties involved.
- Our agency reminded us to think about our target audience and introduced great UX approaches – they brought additional experience to the table.
- All in all, you need a second (professional and experienced) opinion to tell you what works and what doesn’t.
And to tell the truth, while creative agencies aren’t cheap to work with, the best ones are worth every penny.
What about in-house designers?
If you have in-house designers with enough free time to take on a web re-design project as their #1 priority, let them do it. Things get sketchy if the in-house designer has other priorities and your website project extends to eight months instead of two. In this case, I would say that hiring an agency or hiring an additional in-house designer would make more sense.
How did we select the creative agency?
It’s always best to work with a local creative agency so that you can have in-person meetings.
And to be fair, we’ve got some world-class web designers here in Estonia.
I started by making a list of about 10 agencies that I reached out to via email. The outreach email included:
- A brief on our redesign plans and needs
- A request to see 3 web design projects from the past year that the agency was most proud of
- A request for an estimated quote and timeframe
Out of 10 agencies I reached out to, around 5 sent over their work examples and 3 mentioned an estimated price for the project. There was also an agency that refused to share anything before we had a meeting. (Maybe it works for some people, I personally found this attitude arrogant.)
Out of the three agencies that sent over impressive work examples and an estimated price range for the project, we decided to go with Velvet. We liked the style of the designer who’d be working on our project and the fact that they’re a well-functioning agency with a long history. Our first meeting was pleasantly constructive and we set off on the right foot.
PS if you’re interested in what’s the average price range for web design projects (with no too complex features), the price quotes we receiver went from €5k to €15k.
If you start looking for a creative agency to work on your website re-design project, here’s what I recommend:
- It’s generally best to hire a local agency whom you can meet in person.
- Do proper homework – ask your contacts for recommendations, check out all agency websites, see what they’ve done in the past, etc.
- Ask for their best work examples, preferably from the past year (so that the people who created those still work in the agency)
- Ask which projects they’re most proud of – you’ll immediately see where the agency’s focus lies.
- Check if the agency has worked with other companies in your industry. At least, you don’t want to hire an agency with only B2C design experience to work on your B2B project and vice versa.
- Ask about the timeframe – some agencies’ time is booked for months to come and you probably don’t want to wait for that long.
- Ask who’s the designer that’ll be working on your project and check out their Behance and Dribble accounts to see if you like their style.
Asking those questions before shaking hands with an agency will help you avoid a handful of potential misunderstandings.
What input to give to your creative agency?
Usually, the collaboration with a creative agency kicks off with a meeting where you get to know each other and discuss the goals for your project.
- Key lesson #1: even if you don’t agree with everything your designer and project manager tell you, keep an open mind regarding their suggestions. At least 50% of the time they’re right and you’re wrong.
- Key lesson #2: relationships between clients and agencies easily get sour. Give your best try at being empathetic and considering the agency’s point of view.
Somewhere between the first and second meeting, I find it a good practice to write a brief for the agency where you include…
An overview of the project:
- Your goals for website re-design
- Your expectations for the project
- Your worries and limitations regarding the project
An intro about your company:
- A half page about your company’s mission
- An explanation of your unique value proposition
- A description about our customers and their level of expertise about our service
Your preferences and ideas for the new website design:
- The key features and functions you want the website to have
- A list of landing pages the website should include
- The scope of rebranding the visual language that you expect
- A list of your competitors’ websites for further research
- Some examples of websites you like in terms of style
Well… At least that’s what I included in the brief of MindTitan’s web re-design.
Actually, there’s one more HIGHLY IMPORTANT thing to give to the creative agency before they begin to work on your new web design.
The revised website copy.
Your web design should be based on your brand’s key messages and UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Each element on your website should have a clear message and goal. You have to know what you want your website to say.
This is SO important, seriously.
I’ve seen a website design project end up with average outcome as the company didn’t know what they wanted the website to say to its visitors. This unawareness also made it really difficult for the creative agency to deliver any design proposals and stretched the design process across several months.
If you plan to fill in the copy after your new website is ready, you’re on a slippery road.
TL;DR: Write your website copy and hand it over to the designer before the design process begins.
Marketer’s view to the website re-design process
If you’ve never done a website design project before, you’re likely to underestimate the scope of work it requires on behalf of the client – your company.
Hate to break this to you, but you can’t just hire an agency and leave them to independently design, develop, and publish your website.
That’s not how the cookie crumbles.
In reality, the faster and comprehensive your replies to the agency, the quicker and desirable the end result.
Oh, and coming up with good website copy… It’s harder (and more time-consuming) than you’d think. Just brace yourself.
Design and feedback process
There were several milestones where we needed to give constructive feedback. I will list these within a timeframe to give you a better overview of how it all went.
1 day after the first meeting with the agency – A brief for the website re-design (the one I mentioned earlier in the article)
About 2 weeks after the first meeting – Feedback for the first web design examples
In my experience, the first design proposals by the agency serve as a great starting point for a discussion around the future design language of the website. I’ve never seen the first round of design proposals get approved. Usually, a couple of rounds of changes and tweaks are made.
There’s also a good chance that you don’t like the proposed designs at all. It’s also ok to ask for the agency to do a complete re-design.
Look at it this way: It’s best to get things right from the start, rather than to move on with a design you don’t quite like.
I think we bounced the design mockups back and forth for around 2 months.
About 8 weeks after the first meeting – Feedback for all final website page designs
As the web designer’s completed all new website views, the ball’s back in your court. You’ll have to review all the landing pages, functionalities, etc. with a super critical eye.
After my first website re-design project, I learned the importance of getting everything right before the final development part begins.
Here’s what to check before approving the final web design for development:
- Do all the websites look as you want them to? (that’s an obvious one)
- How will the web pages look on mobile? (that’s what most marketers forget about)
- Are you sure that you have all necessary landing pages and features? (what about the Careers, Media, Contact, About, Check-out, FAQ, etc. pages?) Also, think about the pages that you’ll need in the future.
- Are all website elements functioning properly? E.g. how is an outreach form working? Where will some call-to-actions take the visitor when clicked?
- How will you fill in all the copy? Make sure that the good-looking website elements and custom solutions are actually manageable afterwards.
- Did you really include all the necessary elements? E.g. a blog article – does the final design include formatting for various headers, quotes, images, image captions, bullet points, etc.?
- Do you have Facebook retargeting and Google Analytics pixels installed in the website’s code?
And most importantly… Are you happy with the end result?
After all, you’re going to live with this website for the next couple of years at least.
Once you approve the final web design, the mockups will be handed to a developer who will work his magic and turn these into an actual website.
Publishing the re-designed website
Around 12 weeks since our first meeting, we could finally see the developed website.
Don’t bring out the confetti cannons just yet.
As your re-designed website is ready in the test environment, you will need to insert all the copy and images to really make it look like the mockups.
Usually, the creative agency will set up the web pages (sometimes filled with mock copy) in your web management platform, e.g. WordPress.
When entering the copy and reviewing the new website, I spotted at least 20 small mistakes and lacking elements that needed improvement. However, this additional pre-publishing web review is an inevitable part of the re-design process. To move fast at this stage and get the website published, do your best to give constructive feedback.
I simply created a ( ~ 20-page) Google doc where I listed needed improvements for each web page, sometimes illustrating these with screenshots.
It seemed like the most efficient way to give feedback and it worked out really well – our agency was able to comprehend all of the feedback and quickly made the necessary changes.
What to check before your website goes live:
- Do all the web pages look as they did in your approved design?
- Can you easily fill in the web pages – do they have all the necessary elements and features?
- Are all functionalities working properly? Make sure all outreach forms, checkouts, etc. work as they should.
- Is your new website looking good on mobile? Check all web pages, one by one.
- Are all buttons, links, and elements linking to the right places?
- Are your website’s SEO tags in place? Do you have H1 and H2 tags properly set up?
- Proofread all your website copy before it goes live.
The final question that remains is: Where will you host your website? That’s usually handled by the creative agency when moving your website from the test environment to a published version.
And now, around 16 weeks after the first outreach emails to agencies, hours of strenuous copywriting, countless discussions with your team, tens of emails exchanged… Your re-designed website finally gets published.
Was it worth the trouble? – The next few months will tell.
Right now, it just feels damn good to have the redesigned website published.
(Too long, didn’t want to read)
This article covered all aspects of a website redesign process, from start to end, with all its stages, complications, and specs – from a marketer’s point of view.
Here are 5 key takeaways – the minimum you should take away from reading this article:
- Before doing a web redesign project, ask yourself “Why?” And have a good reason for taking on the project.
- Website redesign projects take around 8-20 weeks and can cost anywhere between €3,000 – €30,000 (or even more, I wouldn’t know…)
- When selecting your creative agency, do a lot of research and check out what kind of work your designer has done before.
- Be a good customer and write a comprehensive brief. Also, prepare your web copy before the redesign process begins.
- Be prepared to put in many hours of work and feedbacking the designs, and try to reply timely so that the project moves faster.