Whether you are redesigning your website because you are unhappy with the way it looks or function, or you need to improve search engine rankings and sales conversions, it is important to understand what it is you wish to accomplish during the redesign.
Other things to keep in mind when redesigning:
- People love consistency. For the consideration of your visitors, you might want to make sure your redesign is not so drastic that it is not recognizable to your regular visitors.
- Do not break your brand with your new design. Consistency is important, especially when talking about your business’ branding.
- Create a planning sitemap. Draw out every page on your website in a map format so that you can clearly see the interaction and navigation between pages.
- Avoid unnecessary bells and whistles. Keep your redesign simple.
- Don’t forget the small stuff: favicon, custom default gravatar, broken links, etc.
- Google Analytics – it’s always important to take a look at what’s working and what’s broken on your current website. With Google Analytics, you can see what pages are being viewed, how people are navigating your site and what browsers and screen resolutions are most popular.
- Theme Switch (for WordPress only) – If you are redesigning a WordPress site, Theme Switch is a plugin that you should consider using. It allows you to view a different theme then the rest of your visitors.
- Adobe Kuler – it offers a collection of color schemes that will help finding the perfect colors fast and easy, and best of all, all swatches are sortable and exportable right into Photoshop.
- Adobe Browser Lab – nothing will slow down a redesign more than spending hours browser testing. The Adobe Browser Lab allows you to test your site across all major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, FireFox and Safari.
When and how your launch your redesign can have a big impact on your traffic and in generating buzz about your new site and your product. A big relaunch around the holidays or at the start of a big promotion can draw traffic and general interest. For example, Smashing Magazine timed its redesign to coincide with the introduction of the Smashing Network.
Ways to make the transition smoother:
- Try to keep vital elements of your website similar to their existing counterparts (ie. the main navigation and header)
- Provide users a blog post or news announcement discussing the change
- Set up a 301-Redirect (permanent redirect) for all pages and URLs on the old website. This will ensure that visitors who click on indexed search results are still taken to the relevant pages and it also eliminates 404-Error pages from showing up as a result of your redesign’s new URL structure.
- Make sure error pages contain helpful, updated information