The Complete Website Redesign Checklist
A business website is a means to present your brand at its finest, for existing and potential customers alike. And just like the rest of the online world, your site should keep evolving and changing over time, staying as fresh as the service that you provide.
A big part of making a website is everything that happens after pressing the ‘publish’ button - from ongoing updates and tweaks, to promotion across different channels. Yet after a certain period of time, a more encompassing website redesign is required.
What goes into a website redesign
A good website redesign is about improving a website’s functionality, and not just its looks. A redesign should therefore address a site’s content, user experience, SEO practices, and mobile optimization, alongside its web design.
This complete website redesign checklist will walk you through the steps for revamping your site, whether you’ll be working independently or with the help of a professional website designer:
Determine if it's the time to redesign your website
Analyze and research your current website
Set your goals and create a plan
Define your visual language
Create a sitemap
Employ best design practices
Update your site’s content
Mind your SEO
Optimize the mobile version
Review and share
01. Determine if it's the time to redesign your website
A website redesign is a project that requires time, planning and strategy on your part, so it’s best to go into it prepared. Before you begin, ask yourself the following questions:
Is the design of my site no longer up-to-date?
Have I noticed a decrease in sales or conversions?
Have users complained about the navigation or design?
Did I recently rebrand my business?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, a website redesign can probably benefit your business greatly.
02. Analyze your current website and market
Before changing anything about your existing website, take the time to first analyze its performance, and that of the competition.
Analyze your current website: Review your existing site and go through its different pages. Evaluate what it is that works well, and what doesn’t.
With the help of tools such as Google Analytics, you’ll be able to inspect your site’s data. Check to see which of your pages are the most popular, what an average user journey is like on your site, and which CTAs (call-to-action buttons) are getting clicked on. This guide on how to use Google Analytics can help you make the most out of your site’s data.
Remain as objective as possible in analyzing your site’s pain points. Those will need to be addressed in the redesign. Take equal note of your current strengths too, because not everything on your site has to be completely transformed in the process. Your best performing assets can probably stay just as they are. In fact, they serve as an example of what’s right for your brand, so try and learn what it is that makes them effective.
Research the competition: Look closely into the websites of top competitors in your industry. Pay attention to their design, website navigation, content, and any marketing strategies that they employ. Keep an eye out for common industry practices, such as to create a blog or an online store. These insights will help your website redesign rise up to the competition.
Understand your market: To learn more about your users and industry, conduct a market research or a SWOT analysis, to clearly define your target audience. Even if you’ve done this before, it’s worth looking into your market and audience once more before redesigning your website as they tend to change over time.
By forming a better understanding of who your customers are, you’ll be able to get a feel for what it is that they like and dislike, or what their online browsing habits are. This knowledge will help you tailor your website’s redesign to your users’ unique needs and preferences.
03. Set your goals and create a plan
Write down a list of what you’d like to achieve in your website redesign. Is it intended to increase sales? Encourage email marketing subscriptions? Raise awareness to new products or deals? For each of your goals, specify the metrics through which it can be tracked.
These clearly defined goals will help you devise a website redesign plan. After doing so, break down each of the desired changes you envision for your website into concrete, actionable steps. For example, if your main goal is to increase sales, you might want to consider incorporating pop-up lightboxes that offer a special discount. Then, decide on a viable timeframe for all of the items on your list.
If you’re working with a team, assign roles for individuals in order to keep everyone on track. By making your team an integral part of the website redesign process, the new website design will benefit from their expertise and experience. In addition, you’ll also keep your team motivation high and foster a feeling of belonging and involvement.
04. Define your visual language
Deciding on the look-and-feel of your website is an important step before delving into the many details that go into it. Make sure your visual language ties into your overall brand identity, and matches your business’s tone and core values.
To get your ideas flowing, we recommend you look into sources of web design inspiration and the latest web design trends. Try to identify what suits your brand best, and what could benefit your site’s functionality.
At this stage, you should also gather all of the essential design assets you’ll need for your website. These include your professional logo, brand colors and website color scheme. Ask yourself whether they still fit into your new style, or could use some adjusting.
05. Create a sitemap
A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website and the way they are connected to each other. Getting it right is crucial for your website’s UX or user experience, and in order to achieve easy and intuitive website navigation.
On a piece of paper, map out a tree of the different pages on your website, and how users will be able to get from one to the other. Keep in mind important website navigation practices, such as linking your logo to the homepage. Another thing to consider is that in as little as one or two clicks, site visitors should be able to get to any page on your site, from whichever page they are presently on.
As for the pages themselves, include all of the absolute must-haves, such as a welcoming homepage, an about page, and a contact section, as well as a services or products page. In addition, consider which other pages can add value to your site, such as an online store, a blog, or designated landing pages to encourage conversion.
Wireframes: For a truly professional approach, take your sitemap a step further by sketching out wireframes of your pages. This tool allows you to determine each page’s structure, meaning the general website layout, and where different elements such as the website menu or buttons will be placed. By marking the page elements as simple lines and boxes, wireframes help you to visualize the user’s flow around the site without getting too deep into its design.
06. Employ best design practices
This is where the design part of the website redesign comes in. Be sure to keep your brand identity in mind, as well as the main principles of design. The following tips will help steer you in the right direction:
Hierarchy: This is what leads site visitors to look at each element of your site in order of priority, starting with the most significant piece first. Doing so will prevent the look of clutter and an unnecessary sense of urgency. Size and weight (like a larger and bolder letter size for titles) and element placement (like placing an important CTA button at the very center of the screen) can help you to achieve this.
Contrast: This helps us distinguish between different parts of the design by highlighting their differences. While elements that look alike tend to blend together, elements that are contrasting stand out more. Contrast can be achieved through texture (such as plain versus patterned), brightness (light versus dark) and, the most common one, color. Checking your website’s color contrast is an important web accessibility practice, as you’ll need to ensure that your site is clearly legible (there are many online tools for checking color contrast, such as Contract Checker).
Balance: Each of your pages should be well-balanced and harmonious. A good way to understand balance is to think of your webpage as a scale, with its elements distributed equally on both sides. There are many ways to go about such even distribution, as balance can be symmetrical, asymmetrical, or radial. Whichever you choose, the resulting look should always feel cohesive, leaving nothing out of place.
Use of imagery: Make sure to incorporate high-quality media features in ways that support your message, such as photographs, icons, or vector art. Your imagery could showcase your product, like food for a restaurant website or your accommodations for a hotel website. A different option is to simply set the right mood, for example, with a soothing photo of plants in a nutrition and wellness website.
Typography: This is the practice of arranging text relating to everything from the choice of font to the letter size and weight. While typography is an artform in itself, there are a few simple rules to guide you through the use of type for your website. Pick one to three fonts (but no more) and use them consistently throughout the site. The paragraph text should be the most easily legible, while the title font can be more on the decorative side, with unique touches like cursive or old-style serifs. This guide for font pairings can help you find more inspiration.
07. Update your site’s content
A big part of updating your website is freshening up its text. And when it comes to writing your website’s content, it’s paramount that your choice of words provides real value to readers. Keeping your target audience in mind will help you craft text that is less about you and your product (which can come off as salesy), and more about your users and their needs. Use written copy to provide an answer to their questions, and offer a helping hand in guiding them through the site.
Tone of voice: Your tone of voice should be consistent and in line with your brand identity. Write the way you’d want your brand to sound, had it been a person. Is it personal and friendly, or professional and authoritative?
Microcopy: Another important part of your site’s text is its microcopy. This term refers to the short bits of text on anything from your call-to-action buttons (CTAs) to your online forms. Try to make your microcopy conversational, so that it sounds like there are real-life humans behind it, and not just cold lines of code. For example, a sign up button can go beyond a simple “OK,” and say anything from “Sign Me Up!” to “Let’s Go.”
08. Mind your SEO
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of improving your site’s visibility and ranking on Google search results, thereby boosting your website’s organic traffic. Optimizing your website for SEO is an important part of your website redesign, as it can enhance its discoverability.
Use of keywords: Conduct keyword research and choose two to three keywords to describe your business (short phrases or terms that people would type into search engines when looking for a business similar to yours). These should be used strategically around your website, including your SEO titles and descriptions. Make sure that the keywords fit seamlessly into your content, as recent Google algorithm updates pay special attention to context.
Alt-text: Writing alt-text for images on your website strengthens both its SEO and web accessibility. This is done by adding a few words that describe the content of your image. Your alt-text won’t be visible to your users, but is nonetheless highly beneficial for Google bots and assistive technologies.
Page meta tags: Writing your page’s meta tags - including its title tags and descriptions, helps search engine bots understand the content of your page better, and display it correctly in search results. Whenever possible, it’s best to include keywords in your meta tags.
Domain name: Keeping your domain name consistent over time can help your brand’s recognizability. However, changing your domain name might be necessary if you’ve changed your business name, or expanded the scope of your brand and would like your domain name to reflect that.
09. Optimize the mobile version
Ensure that your site is experienced just as smoothly on-the-go by creating a mobile website version that’s equally intuitive. Declutter the screen and remove unnecessary elements so that only the most essential content remains, and stands out in the smaller screen. You can also take advantage of mobile design features such as a branded welcome screen or animations.
On top of improving your user experience, a mobile-friendly website is also beneficial for SEO as it’s a major part of Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative.
10. Review and share
Give your new design a thorough review, proofreading its written content, checking the navigation flow and ensuring that all links work properly. Double check even the smallest of details, such as your website’s favicon, and everything else on this checklist for launching your website. Ask for a few trusted friends or team members to conduct a similar inspection.
Once your website redesign is ready, give it a marketing boost to support the launch. Sharing your fresh new design on social media and in a newsletter announcement is a good way to drive traffic to your website.
By Eden Spivak
Design Expert & Writer