An outdated website sends a message that you aren’t up on the latest trends. There comes a time when every business needs to revamp and re-launch for maximum impact.
For example, older websites might not be optimized for speed. About 40 percent of those who visit your website will bounce away if it doesn’t load within three seconds. You can’t afford to keep a bulky, outdated website with statistics like that.
At the same time, relaunching your site might seem almost overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some simple rules of thumb you can follow that will make your re-launch not only easy but successful.
Before you launch your website redesign, be sure to familiarize yourself with your site’s traffic, bounce rate, average time on site and other stats so you have an accurate picture of how successful — or unsuccessful — your re-launch is. This will also give you a baseline if you wish to create some split-testing models.
Once you know where your traffic is, it’s time to set some goals for where you want it to be. Take a look at your competitors. You can do some intensive research through sites such as SEORush and find out what keywords competitors are ranking for, as well as their most visited pages. Using this information, set some firm goals for your own website.
What do you hope to accomplish with your re-launch? Do you want more traffic? Perhaps you want more visitors to convert into customers. Whatever your goals, write them out and then work backward on how you will get there.
3. Give Your Current Customers a Heads-Up
You likely already have some loyal followers who have been with you and your website for years. They deserve to know before anyone else that you are revamping and relaunching your site. Send a short note to your mailing list and social media followers. Let them know you are in the process of redesigning, why you chose to do so, what you hope to accomplish with the redesign and when they can expect to see the new look.
4. SEO Still Matters
There are more than 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web. You have to stand out from all of those, rise up the ranks and somehow capture the attention of potential site visitors. There are so many factors that play into ranking and how many people visit your site, but in general, you want to do some basic keyword research.
Find the keyword strings that make the most sense for the type of visitor you most want to attract and create content around the information those searchers would actually want to read. You can drive people to your site, but if you don’t have the content to hold them there, it won’t do you much good.
5. Listen to Your Site Visitors
Once you actually re-launch your site, take the time to gather feedback from your site visitors. Devote as much time as you can to answering questions, listening to concerns and fixing problems as they crop up. This is your best test of how users are interacting with your content.
6. Test Different Browsers
Ideally, before you launch your new look, you should test how the site performs across different browsers and screen sizes. There are many services online that allow you to do this for free or a small fee, such as BrowserStack and Browserling. Choose the one you like best and see how your site might look on a mobile device or on a larger screen.
The text should adapt and be clear to read, and images should still have a sharp resolution. Also, test out the way the site functions on a mobile device versus a traditional PC.
7. Revamp Content
A re-launch is a good time to go back and revamp old content. Freshen things up. Fix any issues, such as broken links. You can easily find plugins to help with this, such as the Broken Link Checker plugin WordPress. You can also push older, but still popular, articles to the top by doing a roundup around a certain theme and linking back to those articles.
It is smart to have all these things in place before you announce the re-launch. This way, when site visitors come to see what has changed, they’ll see the content is fresh and updated.
8. Repeat New Branding Everywhere
You’ve redesigned the look of your website, but how does it stack up to your branding on other platforms? Colors and designs should repeat on social media, for example. Update your social media headers and profile images. Link any interesting new content to your social media pages. Update any contact info or “about us” info.
9. Get Some Feedback From Influencers
In each industry, there are influencers who have a lot of reach with consumers. Figure out who the influential people are in your industry and reach out to them about your redesign. Ask for their input and feedback. Not only will you get some amazing tips, but they may decide to announce your re-launch to their social media followers, which will gain you traffic.
10. Test for Speed
Whenever you add new features, images, plugins and such, there is always the possibility one or more of those things will slow your site down. As mentioned before, speed is an important aspect of whether or not a visitor sticks around beyond that three-second mark.
Test your site’s speed. Pingdom has a free and easy speed test you can use to see how quickly your pages load. They will give you a percentage grade and suggestions for ways you can speed up your site a bit more. Follow a few or all of the suggestions to make your site “sticky” and avoid that dreaded high bounce rate.
A re-launch is exciting to both the website owner and site visitors. It is a chance to look at things through fresh, new eyes. By implementing these tips, you’ll have a much more successful re-launch and a site that will work well for your visitors.
About the Author
Lexie Lu is a freelance web designer and blogger. Her ideal morning includes some HTML code and a cup of coffee. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.