A great website is the cornerstone of your business. If users can’t easily navigate it or see where you add value, you’re already losing money. But when it comes to updating your site, there are a lot of hidden pitfalls to be wary of.
Curious how those who have “been there, done that” and emerged with beautiful websites fared, I asked 11 successful entrepreneurs from YEC the following questions:
What is one overlooked problem I should anticipate when getting my entire business website redesigned?
“We're hunting for awesome startups”
Run an early-stage company? We're inviting 250 to exhibit at TNW Conference and pitch on stage!
Their best answers are below:
A new website design is a fresh slate and often that means evaluating the content for each page. Rewriting the entirety of the site is a huge commitment, and we always underestimate how much time that will take. Giving the vision and design to a website team is great, but you’ll also need to carve out time to evaluate and revamp the content to match your new brand and vision.
2. Drop-In Conversion
Often with a new website design, the focus is on adding the newest technologies and implementing the most modern trends. However, you should pay very close attention to your conversions because it’s a major change for your users. Make sure you look at your analytics closely — A/B test and implement Heatmaps to make data-driven decisions. I have seen companies redesign and then have to do major reiterations because their conversions goals weren’t fully outlined in their initial design process.
3. URL Redirects
Be careful when changing old URLs. You will need to redirect all of your old pages in order to retain your SEO rankings.
4. Future Updates
A designer can make a Photoshop mock-up look picture perfect, and an HTML team can turn that mock-up into a great-looking, functioning site. When the site goes live, you’re thrilled! The problem becomes clear when you want to add or modify content. You need to make sure that the design will hold up if you change the length of elements, add new elements, reorder content and so on. Similarly, make sure that the HTML team abstracts their code, so that it’ll work smoothly as the site evolves. Discuss this goal with both teams, and have sample updates in mind to try out.
5. What You Want to Accomplish
Everyone has a website and everyone wants an awesome website. But the true reason you have a website is that there is a goal you hope to achieve when users visit. I feel that a lot of people lose that core, fundamental approach when they look to redesign their sites. Above all, you can’t lose track of what you want to accomplish: direct sales, indirect sales, conversation starting, traffic, etc. The approach to redesign needs to have your goal engrained.
6. Focus on Your Users
Most businesses redesign their websites based on what they think will look good. This is the wrong approach. Instead, you need to think of how your potential customers will interact with the site. The goal of a website is to make it easy for people to purchase your product or service. Therefore, it is critical that the redesign is done with the customer in mind. We’ve been guilty of this before, and are about to launch another redesign soon. In the past, I had neglected certain optimization strategies and that might have hurt our conversions. We’re not making the same mistakes this time around.
7. Internal Opinions
While you think you have approval and are ready to move forward with a design or content for the site, it never fails that there will be another internal stakeholder who will have an opinion and want their voice heard (and changes made). Have a plan for who will be involved in internal review and what their roles will be. It’s important to understand roles upfront so the site/content isn’t approved one day and then you have to backtrack because someone with veto power was overlooked. Creating an internal process for approvals upfront is just as important as external processes.
8. Being Too Much
A nice website is clear and direct. Far too often, companies try to say everything they do and all the benefits of that upfront. Sticking to the primary message and keeping the entire site focused is absolutely critical.
9. Responsive Design
In an increasingly mobile world, you’ll get the most out of your website when you prioritize quality design and responsiveness on smartphones and tablets. In fact, on mobile devices, your website should function better than your desktop site to grab visitors’ attention, capture leads and close sales.
As with many projects, your website will probably cost more than you expect, but it will turn out to be a great investment if done well. Get specific quotes in writing that include time allocations and any possible surcharges that may pop up. Don’t get burned with a bait and switch or stealthy pricing.
Even if you have set timelines, be prepared for them to get pushed back. Whether it’s a redesign or switching to a new platform, there will be many unforeseen issues, so just be prepared for this news. Make sure you are always on top of those helping with the redesign and don’t just leave it up to them to find new resources/people to fix newly occurring issues. You have to take the lead and manage the process.
Top image credit: Adknowledge