How to plan for a website redesign, so you save money and create a better online lead generator!
Time to redesign your website? It’s time to begin planning.
You have realized your website is actually hurting your business rather than helping or you just need more functionality to your website.
Sometimes you get the word from your boss, or it has just been a while since your website was built.
You start thinking about a website redesign, but that seems like a beast to take on and manage. Where do you even start?
WELL… We have created the Ultimate Website Redesign Planning Guide for just this reason! We will walk you through the different components of planning for your website redesign and help you get prepared for a great website that supports your business, not just a new face!
This guide will help you establish the purpose for your website and ensure it helps support your customer service and sales staff. You will also understand who you are marketing to and why your website does what it does (or will do after a redesign!).
A well-organized plan from the beginning can save you money in several different places. First, you don’t have to spend as much money on your design team planning with you. We have to go through the components of this guide with every website redesign, and we have to budget for that time. The more you have ready, the less time we need to spend on this phase!
Next, you will have the marketing components planned from the beginning instead of building a pretty website then realizing you have no landing pages or pillar structure meant to create leads. You have to patch or add-on your new website soon after launch. With a good plan, all of this can happen in one step of redesigning your website.
This guide is built around 5 key planning areas that will help kick off your website redesign on the best foot with the most efficiency.
Efficiency equals less cost and faster results. That’s why we created this guide!
What you will create in this guide:
Take your time on each section. Get buy-in from your team (even if you are the owner). Utilize these exercises to establish a better core online presence, so you can start getting inbound leads from your website.
Let’s dig in… Who do you market to?
Planning Exercise 1: The Buyer Persona / Customer Avatar
PLANNING EXERCISE 1:
The Buyer Persona / Customer Avatar
Your buyer persona or customer avatar can come in many different forms. They look a bit different from one agency to the next, which is why we didn’t even decide on a title and listed both: buyer persona and customer avatar.
Ultimately, you should have or create a profile(s) for your ideal client or customer. You may have different types of services and products that lead to additional byer personas and that’s okay. Especially if the marketing behind these different services functions differently or serves different buyers.
Many people can list off the demographics of their target customer like 25-55, female, $150K HHI, but that is very short-sighted. It just labels a group of people, but it doesn’t take a stand and really describe your ideal client.
A real buyer persona or customer avatar details the interests that your target have in common like books, TV shows, magazines, hobbies, etc.
It goes further in detail about their customer journey. It describes the problem you can solve.
It really paints the picture of the person you are marketing to and allows you to put a face and even a name to your ideal client.
What Is Their Problem?
Most people in business understand they provide a product or service. They know how it works and how it can help. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand the problem they solve. They just know the features of their product or service; not the benefits of what they provide.
When you start with a solid Buyer Persona, you know what problem you are solving. You understand what will make your prospect have a better day!
As we create the buyer persona and customer avatar (which is just a fancy name for a named profile of your ideal client), think about the problems your business solves. Even if it isn’t a “problem,” there is something you are solving or satisfying for your prospect.
Demographics For Your Buyer Persona / Customer Avatar
Like we mentioned, most people know the general demographics of their target prospect. If not, now is the time to consider your overall target group.
There are many ways to research your target prospect’s demographics, but we suggest you start with existing clients.
Think about your best clients that are the most profitable (there is a whole lot of info on the difference of a “good client” and a profitable one) as you go through this part of the exercise.
If you don’t have a whole lot of clients yet, then you will have to engage other forms of research including:
We could go on with this list, but you get the idea.
We suggest compiling a collection of demographic data that really helps narrow down your target audience before you get into interests and problems you can solve.
Some of these items will seem unnecessary, but we are ultimately trying to create a “person” not just a collection of data that make you think you know your target audience.
Most of this information will be useful when setting up ad target, buying lead lists, or considering if a sponsorship or advertising opportunity fits with your ideal prospect.
Here is what we think gives you great basis for your customer avatar:
Goals and Values
It’s important to understand your prospect’s goals and values in life not just as they relate to your product or service; especially if you are serving consumers vs. businesses.
Even if you are a B2B business, knowing the goals for your prospects’ businesses and personal lives will help you know your client a bit better.
Use this area however you see fit as long as it helps you create a better avatar!
Questions to consider:
This section won’t make or break your persona, but it is very helpful to understand more about the mind of your prospect as it relates to what they want out of life and for their business.
Sources of Information
Now we are going to get into the interest categories that help you identify ad targets based on your prospects’ interests. These areas will help you determine if something is a good fit for marketing and how you should position your messaging.
The following areas will also allow you to think through places you can get in front of your prospects whether it is in-person or through advertising.
NOTE: Unless you are working with your existing clients and can ask them about these specific sources of information, you may have a challenge finding a research source that will detail these specifically. You will have to “use your gut” a bit here. You may be able to ask people in forums and social media groups that match your other demographics to find this info as well.
Don’t skip on this section, even if you have no idea. Investigate sources that you think make sense and put together your best guess. This will give a place to start with A/B testing as you go forward with your website and digital marketing.
Your Avatar’s Sources of Information and Knowledge:
Challenges & Pain Points
Okay, this is what we have been talking about since we started. What problems or desires does your product or service fulfill or solve?
Think about the idea of the straight line from point A to point B.
At point A, your prospect feels unfulfilled or unhappy. They have a problem or desire. This is where they start, and this will go into your buyer persona / customer avatar worksheet (get the worksheet in the Downloadable Kit here).
Point B is where your prospect wants to be. This is how they want to feel or what happens when their problem is solved.
Now, what is the fastest path between those two points? A straight line! That straight line is your product or service.
You help bring your prospect from point A to point B with your solution!
In order to know how you will get them to point B, you need to really understand how or why they are at point A.
Complete the Buyer Persona / Customer Avatar with these main questions:
Figure out what your prospect “looks” like at point A and point B, then you will fully understand who your best prospect is and how you help.
Name, Picture, and Story
By now, you have created a full detail of your prospect from their demographics to the pain points. You know what information they seek, where they seek it, and what they hope to do with that info.
You know where you should be marketing because you the know the audiences where you should have a presence.
You have a much better idea of what your prospect looks like at point A and how you help them get to point B.
Now let’s sew this up and complete this exercise.
Create a Name
We include a Name line at the top of our worksheet, because you should take your target audience from data to a person. Begin creating a real “person,” and that starts with a name.
You may have multiple buyer personas. That is okay. Even in the same narrow target audience, people can have a few different values. It may make sense to have a few avatars!
Get a Picture
This may sound silly, but find a stock image of your avatar / persona. Go to Google, Shutterstock, or any other resource you have for images and find someone that looks just like what you have described in this exercise.
Create a Story
You may feel you have no need for a story about your prospect but transforming all of this data and specifics into a story that describes your prospect and their situation can really help paint the picture of who you are marketing to for you, your employees, and your advertising.
If you want to go the extra mile, pretty this up with the name, picture, story, and extra details you should include and print it out. Include it in your planning materials and give it to your marketing partners. Post it around your office to help your employees (and you) remember who you really serve best!
Download The Buyer Persona / Customer Avatar Worksheet
Want to grab our worksheet to make this process a bit faster? Get the Website Redesign Kit, which includes all of the worksheets for this guide. Get the one-pager that you can use for each persona or avatar you create here:
Now, take a breath. This is the hardest but most important step. The next few exercises are easier to manage, once you know who you are redesigning your website for and how it needs to serve them! This will lay the road for everything else to come and make it much smoother.
Planning Exercise 2: Website Purpose
PLANNING EXERCISE 2:
Now that we know who we are marketing to, you are probably ready to discuss colors, pictures, and all of the fun graphic design stuff, right?
Hold on. We aren’t quite ready for that yet. We have a few more steps!
We talked about the problem or desire your product or service fulfills in the buyer persona. We talked about what your customer looks like as they go from point A (problems/desires) to point B (fulfilled).
Now it’s time to figure out how your website relates to that.
We need to determine what the website should do and how it works into your sales and fulfillment process.
We aren’t getting into the details of functionality here (that is coming soon), but we want to determine key goals, how it will help your sales team/process, and how it will help customer service and fulfillment.
What is the reason your website exists?
The first thing we should determine is the overall purpose of your website. What do you want the website to accomplish? What result do want from a visitor’s interaction?
So many times people redesign a website and really just update the look. They don’t consider the calls-to-action desired.
The website gets new colors, move some things around, and then launched with the same content and information architecture (IA).
Now is the time to consider what do you really want to happen. Is it a lead created? Is it a download? Maybe a purchase (e-commerce) or something related to published content like join a mailing list.
Here is where you put down the goal.
Your website should be built around these goals. It should start to have a “funnel” to it that brings visitors in when they are at the top of the funnel, or in research mode, and then allow them to drill down into the main goal for your website.
Your website’s structure will be based around these goals and the funnels of content associated with them.
Think about the real ultimate goal you have for your website. This isn’t a long laundry list of wants. This should be very narrow focused and relate to conversion of prospects to customers.
List Your Goals Here:
There is more planning required for your new Information Architecture (IA) and content mapping, but that will happen once you get the website process underway. For now, these goals are useful to know and help drive your initial needs conversations with a redesign.
Your website will have several different roles. The key goals you just completed may fall into several roles, or those goals are the same as the support roles we are going to list here.
It’s okay if they are all aligned. That means you have fewer calls-to-action and purposes for your visitors to encounter.
It’s also okay, if you need your website to do more than one thing!
Consider how your website should support your sales process. You probably have a key goal of create leads or something similar that obviously relates to sales support, but there are other ways your sales team could use your website.
Maybe your sales team needs a portal for prospects that has more detailed project information and sales collateral. The average visitor isn’t ready for this detail, but a hot prospect is. This could be hidden on a live URL that just isn’t linked to the home page.
Another possibility could be forms or tools that help in the sales or post-sales process. You could create an on-boarding section on your website driven by customized forms.
Think about how your sales team could use technology to make their jobs easier. Take this as an opportunity to make your website stretch it’s purpose and automate some of your sales team’s tasks.
List 1-3 Goals for the website to help support your sales team.
Customer Service Support
This is very similar to the Sales Support in the previous list, but this one is often overlooked. We all think about how the website can give us more leads, convert purchases, and so on. Most people typically focus on sales, but what can the website do for your customers after they convert?
Think about how technology and automated processes could be useful. Maybe it is a series of training videos or additional resources. You could also use your website as a social forum for customers to interact.
You really don’t have any limits here and should consider all options. If your lists grow past 3, that’s okay. Most of the content for clients will be private or hidden, so it doesn’t distract from the other areas’ goals.
List 1-3 Goals for the website to help support your customer service processes.
Now you have a set of goals for your website. Revise and reduce your list, if you feel that you are trying to make the website do too many things at once. Make sure the goals are actionable items instead of just informational.
Everything on your website is driven by information, but you want the action to be clear.
Download The Marketing Purpose Worksheet
Want to grab our worksheet to make this process a bit faster? Get the Website Redesign Kit, which includes all of the worksheets for this guide. Get the one-pager for creating a list of goals here:
Planning Exercise 3: Current Metric Benchmarks
PLANNING EXERCISE 3:
Current Metric Benchmarks
One area you need to think about when redesigning your website is how your current website is performing. Often, we see companies redesign and website and have no real metric or indicator to decide if the website redesign is successful and performing better.
Getting a Current Snapshot
Now’s the time to grab a current snapshot of your website and its performance. In fact, we actually recommend getting screenshots of your current website now.
Take screenshots of the main pages and important pages from those. If you have 100’s of pages, take a screen shot of different layouts and page styles.
NOTE: In order to take a screenshot, click Print Screen while viewing your website. Use a free art program like Paint for Windows. Open a new document and paste into the document. You can then save the screenshot as any file on your computer.
Next, you need to gather analytical metrics about what visitors are doing on your website.
We have compiled a list of stats that give you an overview of website traffic, what they do, and how much money they make you. Some of these metrics will look different from company to company and organization to organization, but the overall goal is to have a list is benchmark numbers that show you how a redesign has improved your online presence.
You can choose what monthly numbers you use, but there are couple of methods you can use:
- Average monthly numbers of the last 12 months
- Highest, Lowest, and take a median number
We recommend using an average number, but your business may have seasonal swings or other events that affect the validity of an average monthly number.
Once you establish your method, go through the list below to create your initial benchmark report. You can use the worksheet we have created in the Website Redesign Kit or you can fire up Excel or Google Sheets.
A spreadsheet will be useful for keeping track of monthly statistics once you launch the website.
Website Metrics to Measure
The following metrics have been grouped into a few topics. You can add or remove metrics in any group according to the things you want to measure, but these will give you a good “one-pager” set of metrics.
These metrics will come from Google Analytics or a website statistics software running on your website hosting server.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
These metrics may come from a free SEO tool that will analyze your website’s SEO performance or Google Analytics.
We have a free tool here from SEMRush.com that will give you a great domain overview. You will need to create a free account, which will give you 10 free requests. This will give you the info below plus quite a bit of good SEO insights. You could expand your benchmarks with the info on this report.
Other SEO statistics you can include are domain authority and search engine visibility along with some of the statistics you may get from an SEO audit like we mentioned earlier, but they aren’t necessarily required for this list.
These numbers may come from your CRM, website analytics (form submissions or sales), or your business operation software. These numbers really focus on leads and money coming into your business, so each situation will be unique as to where you gather these numbers.
Is this all I need to track?
There are many statistics for each of these categories and all lot others depending on your marketing tactics. You can include as much or as little as you want, but you are looking for statistics that help you gauge how effective your website is performing especially as it applies to your business.
You want to have metrics that aren’t just numbers, because you have to track sales back to their source, which means the initial website visit here.
Many people want to add more stats to the Benchmark Report, and that is okay. Just don’t get bogged down too much in metrics right now. You can always add more later.
Download The Current Benchmark Worksheet
Want to grab our worksheet to have a guide? Get the Website Redesign Kit, which includes all of the worksheets for this guide. Get the one-pager for creating a list of metrics to measure:
Planning Exercise 4: Website Functionality (What Can Your Website Do)
PLANNING EXERCISE 4:
Website Functionality (What Can Your Website Do)
You have put together a lot of planning and spent a lot of time determining who you are marketing to, your goals for the website, and establishing some metrics to measure your website redesign against.
Now it’s time to talk about website functionality.
This is usually where a lot of people start. They want to discuss what new cool things the website can do, comparing it to competitors or large brands they want to be like, and so on.
Fortunately, you have gone through the previous exercises first (right? You do have a buyer persona, now, don’t you?), and you have a much better idea of what actions you want visitors to take and who those visitors need to be to grow your business.
Now it is time to discuss the details about what your website can do.
What Can A User Do On Your Website
With your website goals in mind and how the website can support your sales and marketing staff along with your customer service teams, let’s think about what a user can do on your website.
If your goals revolve around lead generation, then this will be short and sweet – the user can learn more and fill out a form to request more information or a quote.
If your goals are to sell more on your website, then it is fairly simple but maybe more complex in the implementation – add to cart, cross-sells, payment processing.
As you think about how your website can support your customer service efforts, the functionality may get more complex. You may have a need for a user forum, so customers can ask questions and engage other users. You may need a support ticket system to handle service requests. Maybe you need to provide catalogs and technical data to customers on password-protected pages.
By defining the functionality here, you will begin thinking about how users will use your website and the inputs and outputs that will result in those actions.
This will make the process much easier when talking with a website developer and even graphic designers who will need to design and create this functionality. It makes it much easier for everyone to be on the same page about what your website should do. Designers and developers have experience with the functionality you need, but they may approach it different from what you are thinking.
If you have this exercise completed, you make everything much easier (and usually cheaper) to complete, because there won’t be any confusion.
Another benefit of completing the previous exercises and then talking about functionality is reducing unnecessary functionality. Often, people start listing all kinds of things they want the website to do, but they really haven’t thought through the website’s goals and how that functionality will really help their business.
This can save you money!
Planning Your Functionality
Let’s get into the details of this exercise. The three things you need to consider for each key functionality are:
- Data Needed From User
What are you expecting from the user? What buttons should they push, what information should they provide? This should be easy for the user to figure out as they use your website.
- Data Created For Website/Admin
What happens when the user performs their action? Is a product added to cart and purchased? Is a form submitted and they see a thank you page? Where does the data go? Maybe you want information fed into a CRM. This is where you define these types of actions.
- Connected Goals
Now you should confirm the functionality is connected to the goals you created in Exercise 2. If you can’t really link it to a goal, is this functionality necessary? Maybe you need additional goals if this is really a necessary part of your website.
You can stay high-level with these three things, or you can get very detailed. The more detailed you get with the inputs and outputs, the more aligned your design and development team can be with your vision.
If you need 3rd-party integration to something like a CRM or operations software, you can start thinking through what data and information is needed to integrate or you can stop with the software and leave it up to your development team. Either way, having an idea of what you need to connect leaves few surprises to come up later which could affect your original project scope.
Download The Key Functionality Plan Worksheet
Want to grab our 1-page worksheet for this excercise? Get the Website Redesign Kit, which includes all of the worksheets for this guide. Get the one-pager for creating a list of functionality with inputs and outputs:
Planning Exercise 5: Transitioning Your Current Website
PLANNING EXERCISE 5:
Transitioning Your Current Website
Another step in figuring out what you have now and what you need to do with it on your new website is cataloging existing pages, content, data, and rankings.
When building a new website, you never want to just create a new website and launch it, throwing out your website.
Your current website has established rankings in the search engines along with content that you may want to use on the new website. If you don’t manage page URL redirects, you would lose all of that value in the search engines.
This is an important step for us as we get ready to launch a new website, because we never want a new design to make you look non-existent in the search engines, because it appears to be a whole new website.
Your Current Website’s Assets
You need to catalog your current pages and if they link to pages on the new website. Often, some of the same main pages like services, about, etc. are going to exist on the new website. You want to make sure the URLs stay the same, or it looks like a new page to google and other search engines.
Make a list of the important pages of your website that you feel need to either move over or be replaced with a better page. You will need these pages and URLs before launching, so they can be redirected to the new page, if redirecting is necessary.
We have provided a simple worksheet to make a list of URLs in the Website Redesign Kit. You can grab it here.
You can also use a free tool to extract your sitemap. This can help speed up the process of cataloging your pages, but it could also generate a lot of extra URLs you don’t need because of your current website configuration.
Here is a free tool we found to grab the URLs of what you have now: https://countwordsfree.com/generate-sitemap
This tool will give you an xml output, but it will give you a list of the URLs, so you don’t have type or write all of them out. It will also let you see a list of broken links it finds on your website.
There are lots of tools out there that allow you to track your SEO rankings. If you aren’t a digital marketing firm, you may have never used one of these.
However, you really need to have a good idea of where you rank now. Make a list of the top 10-20 keywords you think you rank for or should be important to your business, then use one of the following tools to find out where you rank:
We mentioned this earlier, and it is a well-rounded tool that allows you to keep track of rankings over time along with a whole slew of other great tools for SEO and digital marketing. You will need to create a free account.
Keyword Rank Checker
This website is a quick way to see how you rank for 10 keywords at a time. Put in the website domain and the list of keywords you created and check your rankings!
You may have already gathered existing SEO rankings when you created baseline metrics and reports. If not, go ahead and get an idea of where you stand for your most profitable keywords.
Data and Content
It is important to understand what data and content your website contains now and how you will migrate it.
Some existing website data like form submissions or data you have already used in the past can be archived. Other data like user accounts or other important information that you will need to keep using has to be migrated to the new website.
It is vital that you know how this data is stored now, so your website developers can help move that data to the new website.
Sometimes this means exporting and importing, other times this may be a copy and paste.
Content on your website works very similar. If you are going from WordPress to WordPress websites, for example, it may be an easy migration. If you are changing systems entirely, they content may need to be re-written or copy and pasted over manually.
These are all important things to note with your website development team early on, so they know what to expect and the scope of the project doesn’t change!
What Do You Do With This Information?
Now that you know what your current website’s assets are (data, rankings, pages, etc.), you need to think about where they will go. Your web development team will probably need to help you finalize these decisions, but it is very helpful to go into the redesign project with an idea in mind.
We recommend a sitemap flowchart to layout your existing website pages and how the new website will be organized. This step will happen in the design process, so you can just add notes to your URL list you made earlier like: same page, redirect, discard.
This is ultimately part of the process of Information Architecture, where you determine what key silos of content you have and how it should be organized on your website.
DATA / CONTENT
Work with your development team to create a data and content migration plan. This will require their input as they are doing the heavy lifting on this task. You can help by bringing up the data that you need migrated and have an idea of how it will be used on the new website (remember the functionality list?).
Is This Whole Process Necessary?
Do you really need to do all of these exercises, if you are redesigning your website? Of course not. You are probably going to work a web design / development agency or team. They should have this process down, because it is all important and required in order to properly redesign and rebuild a website.
Benefits of Planning Your Redesign
We recommend you work through these exercises, because we go through these steps for every website we build. We have to know who the target market is, what functionality we are building, and make a professional transition for your old website to the new.
Some companies don’t do this, so you will be going back and forth throughout the whole project. You will have to figure most of this out at some point. Why not do it in the beginning?
Another benefit of preparing for a redesign with these exercises is getting feedback and buy-in from all of your stakeholders. If you aren’t the business owner or CEO, they will need to provide some input. Even if you are the top boss, you probably have advisors and employees that you should include in at least part of the process.
Don’t go it alone with working through some of these things, especially if you have sales and customer service departments!
If you begin redesign project with all of this organized, you can save your development and marketing team (link to who we are?) a lot of time, headache, and scope-creep later in the project. You eliminate some of the meetings and time the dev team typically builds into their website projects, which should save you money.
It also saves time throughout the project when these answers are needed. Since you planned for it on the beginning, everyone should be on the same page.
Begin Planning Marketing
Anyone that goes through these exercises starts thinking about marketing after the new website is launched. It gets the ball rolling for building sales funnels and flows for visitors to prospects.
You start getting ideas of how the website can grow more sales. You think about how the website can serve customers better, which increases customer retention and repeat business.
If your development team has a marketing background or delivers digital marketing services as well, you will find them asking questions about marketing. You will already have some thoughts about it, so you can help work through a better website build.
Ultimately, you will be setting your website up to work better for you and grow your business!
You have your planning sheets (maybe books) put together. You have worked through all of the exercises and are ready to move to the next step: starting the website redesign!
Haven’t completed the exercises?
What are you waiting for? Get our complete kit of worksheets and tools to help you work through these exercises here:
If you already have everything together, it’s time to get a quote for the scope of work you need. We created a calculator to help you estimate the cost of your web design project here: Website Design Calculator
Still unsure if you are ready for a redesign or maybe think you are more focused on marketing your current website? Learn more tips and tricks in our Marketing Resources blog.
Not really sure where to go and how to begin? Connect with us! We help clients understand the process and talk through where you are now.
Sometimes you just need a little guidance how to get started, and that is where we come in! Use the form below to contact us and tell us “you don’t know where to start, but you think we can help!”