Did you know that poor web design can hurt conversions and sales? An unattractive site deserves a website redesign.
No matter what your company size or industry is, though, it’s crucial that you take a strategic approach to your website redesign. Know what isn’t working, what does currently work, and what goals you wish to achieve.
Otherwise, how will you take advantage of your existing web traffic? Worse, what happens if your web design is causing people to avoid visiting your site at all?
Let’s look at some of my favorite techniques for creating a website redesign strategy and implementing it for maximum ROI. If you’d like to skip around, here are the topics I’ll address:
- How Do You Know If Your Website Needs a Redesign?
- How to Redesign an Existing Website
- 7 Steps to Start the Website Redesign Process
- 8 Website Redesign Tips and Best Practices for a Good User Experience
- Website Redesign Examples to Inspire You
I answer three questions when deciding whether or not to redesign a website:
Does the design look outdated?
Are my conversions/sales decreasing?
Have I received complaints about user experience or design-related issues?
If I answer yes to any of those questions, a website redesign is necessary.
It’s also important to consider branding. For instance, I recently bought Ubersuggest, a keyword suggestion tool to which I’m adding more functionality.
Before I bought it, the site looked like this:
There’s nothing wrong with the design, but it doesn’t match my personal branding. After giving it an overhaul,, the site now looks like this:
It matches the design of my personal blog, so it’s easily recognized as one of my properties.
If you’re rebranding your business, a website redesign might help bolster your efforts.
When you already have a website, redesigning it can seem like an overwhelming challenge. You have to consider all the content you’ve already created.
To make the process easier and more effective, follow these strategies.
Research and competitive analysis
Carefully evaluate your top 10 competitors. What do their websites look like? What strategies are they using that you could co-opt? What do you think they’re doing wrong?
Use competitive analysis to make your website better than the competition’s. Redesign your website so it loads faster, offers more intuitive navigation, and present better offers.
Building the wireframe and mockups
Wireframes and markups allow you to visualize your site before it goes live. When you use a wireframe, you can place each element precisely on the page.
Grid-style websites have become the norm. The human eye appreciates uniformity and balance. Your web designer can create wireframes and mockups for you to evaluate.
Starting the new design
Take your website redesign one element at a time. Figure out what elements will extend across all pages — excluding, perhaps, your landing pages — and which are specific to individual pages.
Don’t neglect your blog pages. CTA placement, image sizing, and other visual elements deserve careful consideration.
I’m a firm believer in beginning with data. If you have concrete information with which to begin a website redesign, you’re more likely to achieve your goals.
1. Analyze the “old” website
Start by looking critically at your current design — the “old” website. What’s working? What’s not?
More than likely, you’ve already identified specific problems. Maybe you’re experiencing frequent abandoned shopping carts on your e-commerce site, for instance. In that case, you might need to revamp and redesign the checkout process to encourage follow through.
Using Google Analytics, study traffic patterns. Do you have a high bounce rate? Which pages receive the most frequent and fastest bounces?
Using visual reports like heat maps or scroll maps to analyze the behavior of your website visitors can also help you identify potential problem areas. For instance, you might have calls to action placed too close together or limited activity on important areas of your website, such as email signup forms.
Recordings can provide even more in-depth information about website visitors’ activities on specific pages. You can see where they scroll, click, and otherwise interact with your site.
2. Identify your priorities
A website redesign shouldn’t just change the overall look of your website. It should enhance the ways in which it functions, especially when it comes to sales and conversions.
What metrics do you want to improve with your website redesign? Maybe you want to collect more email addresses, sell more of a flagship product, or encourage customers to buy bundle deals.
Knowing your goals up front allows you to focus on achieving specific results with your redesign. For instance, if you want to encourage email conversions, you could A/B test your signup forms and lead magnets.
3. Define and update the website’s target audience
Target audiences evolve over time. As you add new products or services to your website or expand into new markets, you must update your messaging to the people who are most able and willing to buy from you.
Create buyer personas for each of your target demographics (sets of individual characteristics for consumers) or firmographics (information about B2B clients).
Knowing how to appeal to those target audience members will help you make smart decisions as you recalibrate your website redesign. For instance, if you’re now targeting Millennials, you might want to create a more youthful, colorful site than if you were just marketing to middle-aged professionals.
4. Find out what is working on the current website
You don’t have to change everything during a website redesign. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Some aspects of your site probably work very well. For instance, if you’re happy with your current logo and it’s received widespread brand recognition, you probably won’t want to change it.
The same might go for the site’s color palette, font choices, or photographs. Based on hard data from Google Analytics and other tools, you can decide what you want to keep and what could use adjustments.
5. Create a list of desired design changes
Think of this step as a wish list. Write down every feature you want to add to your website, whether it’s a color change or a new tool for your audience.
Make note of any structural changes you might prefer for your site. For instance, I often recommend removing the date from blog posts. Instead of a URL that looks like this:
You might be better off with a shorter, cleaner URL:
Do you want to add or remove anything from your navigation lists or sidebar? Are you interested in creating new landing pages? Add those to your list.
6. Define the new goals
Each of the items on your wishlist should have a reason behind it. Do you want a more complex top navigation bar? Maybe your users have trouble finding the content they need, so you need to give them ways to locate information faster.
Some of the items on your list might not have an associated goal or reason. Put a question mark next to them so you’ll know to test them against variations.
I always recommend data-based changes because you get more mileage after your website redesign and you don’t have to redesign your site as frequently.
7. Start building the website redesign plan
Whether you’re redesigning your site yourself or hiring a professional design team, you need a timeline. Figure out when each element of the redesign will occur and whether or not you will test those changes against variations.
If you’re hiring a third party or working with an in-house designer, appoint someone to approve all changes systematically. For third-party contracts, make sure you spell out all expectations in the contract and know exactly what you’re getting, such as number of free revisions and the cost of adding extras later on.
Now that I’ve gone through the website redesign process, let’s look at some of the best practices I’ve discovered over the years for successfully creating a pleasing design for your audience.
1. Add strong visual features and elements
I can’t stress enough the importance of eye-catching visual elements. People respond more strongly to images, illustrations, and videos than to plain text.
Consider using custom images instead of stock photography. One truck driving academy increased its conversion rate by more than 160 percent by replacing a stock photo on its homepage with one of its actual students, and by altering the CTA slightly.
2. Personalize your website based on your brand
There’s nothing wrong with showing off your brand’s personality. Think about the ways in which you communicate with your audience, such as the voice and tone of your blog articles or social media posts.
Use colors, fonts, and imagery that reflect your brand identity. Always write in a consistent voice so your audience recognizes your content immediately and doesn’t get confused.
3. Use contrasting colors
If you want your website redesign to pop, use contrasting colors. Highlight the key areas of your website you want visitors to notice with a color that isn’t found elsewhere on the page.
Todoist does this well on the landing page for its premium product. A salmon pink color draws the eye to key areas of the page, such as the logo and CTA.
You’ll notice that the CTA is larger than the other pink elements on the page, which is just another form of contrast.
4. Build a blog if you still haven’t
Content marketing doesn’t just work — it’s one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. Writing for NewsCred Insights, content specialist Dawn Papandrea says, “Customers want content, not ads…[they] can smell a sales pitch a mile away.”
She notes that, based on a 2017 study by global communications firm Havas Group, nearly 85 percent of consumers report wanting to read content by brands. If you don’t meet your target audience’s expectations, you risk losing them to your competitors.
A blog is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to disseminate content. Write consistently about topics that help solve problems to attract search traffic and social shares.
5. Add new landing pages focused on converting users
During your website redesign, consider creating new landing pages. Focus each page on converting visitors on a specific offer, whether it’s a discount on your most popular product or a lead magnet for your email list.
After the redesign, run website optimization reports to keep an eye on user behavior. Armed with intel from reports of your visitors’ activities on each page, you can adjust your design based on how the pages perform.
6. Optimize the entire website for SEO
From your landing pages to your blog, make sure people can find your content through organic search. Use relevant keywords, add alternate text to your images, create custom meta descriptions, and write long-form copy so Google can make sense of the content’s purpose.
For a handy primer on getting started, check out my video below. I go into detail about three steps you can use to begin your search engine optimization efforts.
7. Consider also optimizing the website for voice search
Famed marketer and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has preached for more than a year about voice becoming the next big thing. According to Gary Vee, “Audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen.”
Think about how people interact with their smartphones. If they’re on the go, they’d rather tell their phones what to search for than type out a query. Optimize your website for voice so people can find you more easily.
If you have a local business, consider trying to rank for terms that include “near me,” “nearby,” and “closest.”
For instance, if you sell bicycles, you might want to rank for “bicycle shop near me.” Including your geographic location in your target keywords can also help, such as “bicycle shop in Seattle, Washington.”
8. Make sure all pages are mobile-first
Turning your website into a mobile-first machine doesn’t take much effort, but it pays excellent dividends. Now that more people search for content on mobile devices than on laptops and desktops, you can’t afford to ignore smaller gadgets.
Ideally, your website should look beautiful on any size device. Make sure images and font sizes don’t exceed a smartphone’s screen size because you’ll alienate visitors from those gadgets.
It helps to look at some examples of website redesigns so you know what to expect. I’m going to share two examples — one of my own that’s fairly subtle and another example that’s extremely complex.
First, I’ll show you how I’ve redesigned NeilPatel.com. Back in 2015, the homepage looked like this:
As you can see, the homepage is focused on my webinar, which I was heavily promoting at the time. Since then, though, my focus has changed, so I’ve redesigned the homepage to concentrate on collecting new leads.
I haven’t changed my color scheme or my font choices. For the most part, the site still has the same feel.
However, the previous design was no longer compatible with my marketing strategy, so it had to change.
You should know, though, that I’ve done major overhauls on my website’s design before. Here’s what the homepage looked like in 2013:
You can see a similarly large change in the overall design and feel on Problogger. It’s a website helmed by Darren Rowse that provides massive value to content marketers.
Just a couple years ago, it looked like this:
It’s not a bad design, but Darren has redesigned it to look more modern and to focus on the direction in which he’s taken the Problogger business:
There’s stronger contrast, and a clear value proposition above the fold.
You’ll notice that the logo has been altered, but only slightly. It’s still recognizable to people who are familiar with the older logo, but it’s been revamped to match the new website’s design scheme.
Redesigning a website can boost conversions and sales when done correctly.
Start with data. What do you know about your current trends in web traffic, conversion rates, bounce rates, time on page, and other metrics? Apply what you know to the new design.
Follow my eight best practices for website redesign success:
- Add strong visual elements
- Personalize your website based on your brand
- Use contrasting colors
- Build a blog
- Add new landing pages
- Optimize every page for SEO
- Consider voice search
- Make all pages mobile-first ready
Don’t forget about research. Knowing what your competitors are doing can help you design a more effective site that surprises and delights your customers. Using wireframes and mockups, get an idea for what your new site will look like, then begin building it piece by piece.
While an increase in revenue is the end goal of any website redesign, improving the user experience and flow through your site is certainly a bonus!
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