Here are my 9 top tips to getting the most from your website redesign… get a paper and pencil and set aside a couple of hours to follow these steps to get a new website that not only looks great but fulfills the needs of your business’ customers and prospects.

Includes sample documents for you to download and use

Planning your website redesign

1. Audience profile: make a list of all the different groups of people that visit your site, for example existing customers, prospects, employees, shareholders, competitors, journalists

2. Audience needs: next to each of the different groups, write down what content they’re likely to be looking for – here are some ideas: existing customers looking for support, job hunters looking for vacancies, journalists looking for photos and logos

3. Audience prioritisation: now rank the different groups of site visitors into order of importance – this gives you your content hierarchy for your home page. For example, if you decide that new customers finding information on your services is most important, then you prioritise links to that content and if you decide that recruitment is most important then you would prioritise a job board.

4. Sitemap: once you’ve got a list of audiences and the information they need to find, you can organise it all into pages. This is your sitemap, decide what information goes under what headings – typically use a new page for each subject and you need around 350 words to adequately inform your audience. Any more than this then start splitting your pages down into sub-sections.

5. Wireframes: to make a wireframe for your home page, just open a new Word doc and imagining that the document is your home page, carve up the space with labelled boxes to represent each of your content areas. Make larger boxes for the more important information and position it nearer to the top of the page. Remember, this is information in terms of what your audience profiles are looking for, not what your marketing department wants to tell them!

Designing your new website

6. Objectives meeting: invite your chosen web designer to meet with you and go through your audience profiles and wireframes with them. Their job is to then style your wireframes to make your important content jump out and your less important information step back. Ask your designer for their recommendations and suggestions to make sure you get the best result.

7. Colour schemes: your website should have a colour pallet that matches your business’ branding. Choose one or two main colours and then a selection of secondary, complimentary or accent colours. For example, your logo may be blue and orange in which case choose the blue as your main colour and use splashes of orange as the accent – you’ll probably also need a neutral colour to use for backgrounds to help your layout hang together.

Giving design feedback

8. Design presentation: when your designer presents your new site visuals to you, put yourself in the shoes of each of your audiences and see if the information you’d want to find, is findable! Also judge it on whether the colours and style reflect your brand and also required hierarchy of information.

Always do this first round face to face, it’s virtually impossible to give good feedback via email and a discussion is much more productive. This is the time to make any changes and tweaks to your site design, if you don’t think they’ve hit the nail on the head, tell your designer now. If you sit it out thinking it’ll get better, it probably won’t and it will cost a lot more to change once the build has started.

9. Navigation labels: one thing that will help your audience profiles to find the information they’re looking for quickly, is to use the keywords they might use as labels for your navigation. For example, depending on your industry sector think carefully about whether you use Jobs or Careers, Media Centre or News.

Check these when your looking at your website visuals – scan them for the keywords and see how easily you can find what you’re looking for – this is exactly how your audiences will be viewing your home page! Don’t try to be clever or creative with your navigation labels – no-one had time to decipher them and they’ll be off to your competitor’s website quicker that you can say “welcome”.

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