5 Things to Consider When Redesigning a Website
Here are 5 important things to consider when redesigning a website, because you don’t want to watch your website redesign go up in smoke.
When was the last time that you redesigned your website? If it’s been over a year, then it’s probably time to change things up. Using a fresh design will give your website a much-needed makeover, keeping both visitors and search engines engaged. But there are a few things to consider before embarking on a new design for your site.
1. How Will A Redesign Affect My Links?
It’s not uncommon for websites to contain hundreds, sometimes thousands, of links. Ideally, a new web design should maintain the links, allowing visitors to access them just as before. A website redesign will affect your website links in two different ways the first being internal links and the second being inbound external links.
Want to know exactly how big of an impact links can make on the redesign of your website, take a look at what happened to Digg’s traffic after they launched a redesign.
Dealing With Internal Links/Broken Links:
If you have a non-wordpress site, you can use online services such as Broken Link Checker to scan your site and generate a report of any broken links. You can then use this report to correct any broken link issues with your site.
If you have a WordPress site, you can use a plugin like Broken Link Checker to monitor and notify you of any internal or external broken links on your site.
Dealing With External Links:
Dealing with external links gets a bit more complicated and is absolutely critical in maintaining your website’s page authority ie: link juice. If you’re moving to a CMS like WordPress, BigCommerce or Magento… no worries; these platforms all have great 301 redirect import tools, the hard part will be compiling your 301 Map.
Here are some helpful tips to get your 301 map in order.
First, you will need to generate a list of old URLs in order to map them to their new destinations. How you go about getting a listing of your old URLs depends on your current website’s configuration, but here’s a good place to begin:
- Start with your important URLs. To find them:
Use your content management system, which can typically provide an easy way to get a listing of all URLs that host content. For example if you use WordPress, you could use the “list all urls” plugin to outputs an ordered list of all of the website’s published URLs in your admin area.
Create and save sitemap and link lists
- A sitemap file containing the new URLs in the mapping
- A sitemap file containing the old URLs in the mapping
- A list of sites linking to your current content
The final step will be to import or (set up) the 301 redirects for migration and this will depend on the CMS you will be using.
WordPress has several plugins like Simple 301 Redirects which makes it easy to import your sitemap list of old and new urls. BigCommerce has a detailed bulk 301 import tutorial that you can reference here.
2. Is it Compatible on Mobile Devices?
Of course, you should also consider whether or not the new web design is compatible on mobile devices. Just because it loads and looks fine in a desktop web browser doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do the same in a smartphone or tablet browser. And if your new web design fails to support mobile devices, it could greatly decrease your traffic and search rankings.
Responsive Layout is all about the user experience and with such a small design area prioritizing features and content is essential. As stated in UXMatters,
“For smartphones, the most popular screen resolution is 320×480. Therefore, it’s usually necessary to sacrifice some of a Web site’s features and content when designing a mobile version of the site, so users can easily find the ones they really need. You must give priority to the tasks and content users are most likely to use on a mobile device. “ It’s worth checking out their examples here: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2011/01/designing-for-the-mobile-web-special-considerations.php
Why is responsive design so important when it comes to not only compatibility on mobile devices but user experience? Our infographic below will help shed some light on the percentage of customers you may be leaving behind due to a lack of mobile responsiveness.
3. Is it Secure?
Security should be a top concern for all webmasters and bloggers. Some studies suggest that as many as 30,000 websites are hacked each day, with nearly 3 in 4 websites containing some type of “critical vulnerability.” As a webmaster, it’s your responsibility to take meaningful and appropriate measures to protect your website from hack attacks. So before implementing a new design, go over the code to ensure it’s safe and secure, and that it doesn’t pose a risk to your site’s integrity.
Jen Martinson, editor in chief of Secure Thoughts, just published a post on our blog providing 3 easy steps to hack-proof your Ecommerce site.
If you’re running wordpress, you may want to check out: WordPress Security 101: Safeguard your site from hackers.
4. Content Management System or No CMS?
You really have one of two different choices when redesigning your site: you can use content management system (CMS), or you can create the new design from scratch. Opting for a CMS will undoubtedly make your life easier, as it streamlines the process of creating and managing content (hence the name).
Why I recommend WordPress as our first choice of CMS:
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the World. WordPress is used by 73 million websites as of May 2012 (WordPress Stats) and it holds the largest market share in the CMS market. Many users are already familiar with the WordPress CMS and so it requires less training for staff.
Why is this important for our clients?
- WordPress is open source, well supported and offers nearly limitless room for expansion.
- WordPress is designed for the user as well as the developer.
- WordPress is easier to manage and less costly to maintain.
Here are some great stats from Yoast to support these statements:
5. What Type of Maintenance Does it Require?
All websites will require some form of maintenance, whether it’s logging in to click the “update” once every other week or cleaning unnecessary code. If a new design requires a significant amount of maintenance, however, it could deter you from other tasks like creating content and optimizing your site for higher search rankings.
Maintenance is a much bigger consideration than many website owners realize. Building the website is often the easy part, but keeping your site up to date and running can be the real challenge. If you don’t have a team dedicated to keeping your site up-to-date, then I recommend hosted solutions for Ecommerce and again WordPress for other types of organizations.
Using a hosted solution like Bigcommerce or Shopify is sort of like leasing and customizing a storefront in a development instead building your own store. You’re still in control of design, merchandising, and everything business-wise – but you leave the store construction, plumbing, security, and infrastructure to the property owner.
When redesigning your website, you’re goal is to make a marked improvement on all fronts and hopefully these points will help guide you in streamlining the process as well as alleviating some of the potential pitfalls that could happen down the road.