There's a lot to consider when you decide to redesign your website, and there are even more people who want to be involved when it happens.
Designers want to talk about building a better user experience. Development wants to upgrade the technology for mobile. And your SEO team wants to keep as many of your rankings intact as possible.
But there are also important content questions to consider before revamping your website. Below are five important ones to keep in mind.
1. What Content Currently Exists on Your Site?
This seems like such a simple question, and one that should be easily answered. However, depending on the age and size of your site, you truly may not know.
Not knowing what you already have may result in accidentally losing valuable assets during the redesign process, wasting dollars creating duplicate ones or missing an opportunity to build on something your audience has shown to like. Use this time to take stock of what you have by beginning the content auditing process to your current assets, including web pages, blog posts, articles, ebooks, videos, FAQs, case studies, PDFs, images, and the like.
Once you know what you have, look for holes.
- What don't you have that would benefit your customers, your sales team and your fans?
- What types of information, content or products are they often seeking?
- What questions do they pose?
Make note of this. Maybe you'll want to incorporate it during the redesign process, and maybe you won't. But put it on the list for consideration.
2. What Content Drives Revenue?
If you're like most companies, your website redesign includes, at minimum, a "content refresh" – or an update of the existing content of your site. It includes adding pages, updating pages and even killing pages that aren't offering you or your customers value. But how do you know what those pages are? Don't guess, dig into your analytics and find out.
If you have ecommerce tracking set up on your site and/or have assigned values to conversion goals, the Page Value metric will help you identify the pages on your site that are converting and driving revenue to your business. Find your high traffic/high value page and leave them alone. These pages are working.
Instead, focus on your low traffic/high value pages and address them. These are pages that would be high-revenue pages if they received more traffic. Make highlighting them part of your new site plan.
The Landing Page report in Google Analytics is another way to get insight into the pages on your site attracting new visitors, showing you where people repeatedly land and the sites referring them. Find your entry points and rate the quality of the page. Can it be improved? Should the calls to action or messaging be adjusted based on where the traffic is coming from?
Don't create new content without understanding what's already working and what isn't working to make informed decisions about where your time is best spent.
3. Are Current Calls to Action Working?
Before you architect a new site, you better have a clear understanding of how visitors are navigating your current one, where messaging is working and where calls to action are being wasted. Once again, analytics data can help you identify spots where your current site is doing well and where it's missing the mark. Use it to look for areas to make improvements, be it removing an obstacle, updating a call to action or providing insight into how customers are using your website.
You can use In-Page Analytics (Content > Standard Reporting) to get a visual assessment of how users interact with your website. This is a great way to see your site experience from the eyes of your customer.
In-Page Analytics can tell you things like:
- How many clicks are happening on the bottom half of the page?
- Are users clicking on the main call to action or is the messaging failing?
- Are users seeing important content elements or do they not make it there?
Heatmapping (e.g., CrazyEgg) is another great way to get answers to the questions above and to track how users are interacting with your website, providing loads of great data about clicks and user behavior. When it comes to the redesign process, you want to ensure you're making adjustments that will benefit the reader. To do that, you have to act on insight.
4. What Information is Missing or Needs to be Reworked?
The same way we want to identify what's working, we also want to know what's not. Looking at your internal search logs allows you to eavesdrop on your customers, seeing what they're searching for, in their very own words. Are they looking for a particular product you don't currently offer? Or maybe you do offer the product, but based on search volume, you find it may warrant its own page or category on your site to increase visibility. Or perhaps the searches highlight a problem with your navigational structure that should be addressed or the naming convention you're using.
Find these problem areas now to not repeat them in your site's next iteration.
5. Does the Content Support the Site?
Take a step back to ask yourself – what is the goal of my website? Is the content presented guiding visitors toward the desired outcome? Does it support what the site is trying to accomplish?
This could be a messaging question, but it could also be a structural one. Look at your site architecture and how you're funneling people through your site – is it logical or are users getting lost in the process? Is the information presented in the proper order, serving the right user? Analyze your user flow to see how many clicks or steps it's taking your visitors to get where they need to go. A visitor shouldn't have to make more than three clicks to get to an important content page.
Look at the elements in your main navigation. Do they give the right summary of what your site is about?
You can use analytics and heatmapping software to help you identify how your customers are navigating your site, but you can also seek out the insight of someone unfamiliar with your site. Give them a goal and see what steps they take to accomplish it. Leave them on your site and ask them to tell you what the site is about, its purpose and what it is asking of visitors.
By reviewing your content and defining your desired outcomes and strategies, you'll be able to provide a lot of the information the agency would be seeking during its discovery phase. You still want to let them do their research, but supplying more information and good content ahead of time will yield a smoother, faster process, and a better end result.
Image Credit: Rob Enslin/Flickr