When’s the last time you updated your website and web content?
Depending on who you ask, it might be time for a face-lift—or possibly a complete redesign.
There are several reasons it might be time for a new website. Some think it’s a factor of time and that major updates should happen every 2-3 years. Others suggest there are some web content characteristics that will tell you when it’s time.
Maybe you’ve seen a decrease in your mobile traffic. Maybe your SEO value has dropped. Perhaps you’ve noticed an undesirable increased bounce rate or decrease in conversions. Maybe you just noticed that all your competitors’ websites have improved significantly while yours doesn’t fit your brand anymore and features outdated information. Editing a current website or developing a new one is a terrific way to improve all those metrics.
Jenna Christensen, Digital Marketing Strategist at ArcStone Technologies, says content should be top-of-mind when you’re ready.
“Content is easily the most important part of a redesign,” Jenna says. “Even with a flashy new design, content is what inspires action. Using old content will drive old results.”
With that in mind, here’s what to consider when you’re ready to develop a new website or edit part of your existing site.
- What’s the project?
- Tips for web content collaboration
- Design and Content: The Chicken and the Egg
- Don’t forget your content marketing basics
- Quick tips
What’s the project?
Regardless of what new content you’re adding or editing to your website, there are many questions you need to answer before you start typing. The first is in regards to the kind of project you’re starting.
There are two kinds of content projects for your website and you’re likely to approach both very differently.
If there are only certain parts of your current site that need a content update, this is a good way to go. It’s much less time intensive and allows you to focus content efforts on your site’s most troublesome spots. There are two key ways to discover content issues during this type of content edit.
1. Google Analytics
Look at issues in the Behavior Flow or Goal Conversion features in Google Analytics to see where your website traffic and/or conversions are falling off. Though some design features might have an impact on that drop, your content is most likely the biggest culprit.
Your behavior flow, for instance, will show you where the most users are leaving your site. If you notice a lot of people leaving from a particular product page, that product page might be where to start your content edits.
2. Customer feedback
If you’re having a hard time understanding why certain pages are losing traffic, consider seeking feedback from your clients and customers. They might be able to help you troubleshoot things like a high bounce rate or low conversion rate. Maybe there’s a pop-up where there shouldn’t be or one page is confusing to navigate or lacks a clear CTA. These customer insights can help you find the right way to adjust.
While the face-lift might be less expensive and time intensive, the challenge will be keeping the new content consistent with the rest of the website. A robust content strategy will be a tremendous asset here.
Naturally, this is a huge undertaking. While you get the benefit of a blank slate, you have more significant questions to ask yourself:
- Is there anything we want to keep?
- How can we say it differently and more effectively?
- Do we need outside help?
We often think of a website redesign as a visual remodel. But content plays a significant role. Content is on all your landing pages and is in your CTAs and your footers. Here, it’s absolutely critical to have a strong content strategy, well-defined audiences and (most likely) really good content, design, and development partners.
This is also a tremendous opportunity to re-evaluate your site’s current SEO value. If you’re unhappy with your current performance, do some extra keyword research and work with your development partner to figure out the best ways to incorporate those high-value keywords across the whole site.
Tips for web content collaboration
When it comes to a new website, everybody’s got an opinion.
In a terrific article on web content, copywriter Susan Greene opens with a common, cringe-worthy brainstorm scenario: Four or more people are in a room, discussing the new website redesign. And each person has a different idea about what absolutely MUST be on the new website.
When it comes to a website redesign, you might be trying to balance the input, advice, and opinions of:
- Your sales department
- Your company’s product specialists
- Your internal marketing team
- Upper-level managers, presidents or CEOs
- Your website design and development partners
That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. While the guidance of the above parties is important, Greene points out that the advice you might get from them will answer the question, “What would be good for my team?”
Below are questions to ask yourself and stakeholders to ensure you understand what’s important to them and help set expectations about the new website:
- What’s the most valuable content on our current website?
- What are the biggest issues with the current site?
- What user problems do you hope the new web content will solve?
- What are the two or three most relevant details you think should be included?
- What are our audience’s most common questions?
- Once on the site, what further actions do you want the user to take?
Ask questions that put the audience and user experience first. With this as the common goal, all parties will be in a better position to make decisions together and identify the most crucial changes that need to be made.
Design and Content: The Chicken and the Egg
Though it’s not an age-old debate, it’s a common one.
Should you write the perfect copy first (or find keywords) and then kick it over to your designer? Would you rather see a page layout before you start typing your web content? It’s going to depend on the preference of you and your designer, so it’s an important conversation best had early on.
Benefits of starting with content
Starting with content allows you to zero in on what you want to say and give priority to all the information you want on each page. This gives your designers and developers a crystal-clear picture of what you want to say.
Benefits of starting with design
On the other hand, aesthetics are extremely important and might even be the main reason you’re redesigning your website in the first place. Leading with design can first lay out how you want the website to FEEL and then create web content to support it.
Best of both worlds
In our experience, we found that a healthy mix of both and our redesign partner, ArcStone Technologies, were on board.
“Content and design inform each other,” says Jenna Christensen. “You can’t have one without the other.”
ArcStone understood our content strategy and our voice and presented a design to reflect that.
Don’t forget your content marketing basics
When you get wrapped up in the nitty-gritty details, keep your content marketing basics close by. Your website redesign is a special project, but try thinking about it as simply a big, dynamic piece of content.
Follow your content strategy
A strong content strategy is necessary when creating content of all different types. And it’s even more important when developing copy for your website.
In your comprehensive content strategy lives your content goals, your internal and competitive analysis, your SEO opportunities and your action plan. These are all things that will make your website edit or redesign successful or not.
No matter if you’re developing an intricate product page, the “About Us” section or the homepage, your content strategy should inform every single sentence.
Make it about your audience
Content Marketing 101 states you should provide real value with your content. Prospects want to hear how your products or services can help solve their problems. A few quick tips:
- Provide more benefits than features
- Address your reader more often than your own company
- Don’t use internal language
- Teach your readers something
- Don’t go for the hard-sell
Let your personality shine
While we tend to think of brand personality as a blog and social media play, it’s incredibly important to let it shine on your website, too.
The content you create on your website should tell your audience not only what you do but what it’s like to work with you. The more approachable your content, the more approachable your company.
Work your process
Though a redesign is a different kind of project, continue following the same content workflow as your blogs. Make sure you know who’s in charge of creating, when the graphic designer should get involved, and who and when it’s time for reviewing and editing.
When redesigning a website, there’s no shortage of details to think about and consider. Here are some quick things that really helped Brandpoint during our recent redesign.
- Find a good partner
From experience, Claire Berge, Brandpoint’s Director of Marketing, cites this as the most critical part of the entire web redesign process. A good website requires robust design, development and content assets. Most organizations can only manage one (MAYBE two) of those internally. Find a good partner who can deliver what you need and provide some valuable direction along the way.
- Plan, plan, plan
The more detailed roadmap you can develop at the beginning, the better. Jenna of ArcStone Technologies suggests the initial blueprinting process is often overlooked due to time or budget constraints. But it could be the biggest indicator of success.
“Conducting a proper marketing analysis, creating a new sitemap and wireframes, then a comprehensive statement of work is vital to project success,” Jenna says. “If this isn’t done first, you will likely end up with a website redesign project that is over budget and timeline.”
- Get your content and design done before you build
Your developers will thank you. Mitch Hislop, Digital Strategy Lead at Fjorge Digital, suggests the tech build will go much smoother if the design and content are wrapped up. He adds that, “understanding what technology stack and CMS will be used for the build…” is critical for a smooth build.
- Make it scrollable
Mobile-friendly websites have quickly gained Google’s favor in the last couple years. It’s important to consider that when redesigning or updating your web content. People expect 1,500 words in a blog post, but big blocks of text on a landing page means lots of scrolling to find what they’re looking for. Keep product and services pages limited to only the most important things they need and want to know.
- Put CTAs everywhere
If your web content is good, your audience will gladly interact further. By keeping your CTAs ever-present, they’ll never have to guess what their next action should be and how to do it. HubSpot put together 18 outstanding mobile-friendly websites that almost all have one thing in common: Strong, clear CTAs.
- Use your strategy
I sound like a broken record. But your content and SEO strategies will be tremendous assets in the web design or update process. They should be jam-packed with your audience’s greatest needs and your biggest SEO opportunities.
Editing and redoing a website can be such an exciting process and if you’re like a lot of companies, a website redesign might come sooner than you think. Yes, there’s a lot to think about.