Keeping your website fresh is important but if you aren't aware of a few basic things, you may end up worse off by redesigning. Check out our list of 5 things to consider when redesigning your website. There's obviously a lot more but these will make you think.
Most companies jump into a website redesign without thinking about a few key aspects. As most web development companies, we have a long checklist of items to consider but here are 5 to make sure you think about:
If your website has been up for a while, you should be able to track what is working. If a specific page is successful at creating conversions then make sure you don't break that by redesigning your site.
Have you defined your target demographic? Have you defined your business goals? What is the goal of this website and how are you going to measure it? Are you going to measure traffic? Email newsletter sign ups? etc. Make sure you define what winning looks like.
If in your analytics you see that there are some content areas that aren't getting as much exposure as you'd like, you can re-architect the navigation to bring those pages to the forefront or create calls to action (CTA) directing visitors to that content you deem important.
Does the new design reflect your company and its culture? Have you really connected with your audience?
Make sure you check for broken links if you have changed URLs or created new pages. I don't care if you clicked on the Contact Us link from the Home page and it worked. Click it from every page. Use software to look at all the links on your site and make sure that none of them end in a 404 error. A 404 error is when someone is trying to go to a page that doesn't exist.
Make sure you Spell Check your content after it goes live. If someone is entering your content by typing it in manually then you need to spell check just to make sure they didn't make a mistake. It's easy to mak ea (< see what I mean?) mistake or put a space in the wrong place. If you are copying and pasting content then you may be copying extra "hidden" characters into your clipboard and then pasting them into your website. You may not see it until it's live on your website. Microsoft Word is notorious for helping cause this type of error due to hidden tags.
If your page addresses have changed you need to create 301 Redirects to point Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to the new page URLs. The search engines know what your website addresses were and other sites were linking to those pages and now you went ahead and changed them. Instead of losing all of those links, make sure you create 301 Redirects that automatically redirect visitors to the new page. 301 is just a term for a permanent redirect
This is especially important if you are doing any pay-per-click. You don't want to pay for clicks just to get a prospective buyer to an error page.
There's a lot more. There always is. Just make sure that whoever you are working with is experienced and has been around the block a few hundred times.
Developing new software can be a frustrating and tricky process if you aren't prepared and don't have a game plan. When you go into it unprepared the chances of finishing the project or having it run smoothly are unlikely.
To help you we have broken down successful software development into specific activities:
Planning is first and always should be. Many less experienced developers or clients will want to jump right to the Implementation stage and skip planning. The point of planning is to hash out ideas and come up with a game plan. Think of a professional football team, they take the field with a playbook that they've already hashed out and run several times. If they were to take the field without a plan, they would be slaughtered.
In the case of software development, slaughtered means budget overruns, launch delays and a buggy product that may not be suitable for use.
By planning correctly, you can define the most important aspects of the software that must be there for launch. You can also decide how things should work, in which case it only has to be developed once. That saves time and money.
After you've decided on the game plan you go out there and take action. This can take on many different forms but in essence, it means designing the graphics or actually writing code. Regardless of the platform or language, you are building at this stage.
Testing could technically be considered part of the implementation stage because it is done as pieces of the code are completed. There's are various types and stages of testing but the goal is to find defects as early in the process as possible so that they do not make it into future versions of code where they could have a greater impact.
Think of it this way. If you are building a car, you want to find out that there's a problem with the engine before you build out the drive shaft and the transmission, otherwise, there's a possibility that fixing the engine defect may require you to rebuild the transmission and drive shaft. Find it early, fix it early, and continually build on good code.
This is a step that many companies do not use, but the successful ones do. It is essentially going back through the code and cleaning things up. You are making it more efficient and continually improving upon it by making it simpler and simpler. The way it behaves is the same but you may be able to take some code and refactor it down so that it’s easier to extend and maintain. An example of a company that does a lot of refactoring? Facebook.
Deployment is the point where the code has been approved, reviewed, and ready to be pushed to the production environment. Otherwise known as "the live site"; This is where everything is pushed live and your clients and customers start to use it.
After deployment, you're at the point where you've learned what's working and what's not and require some updates or changes based on your business needs or client needs. The big project is done and now its upkeep and staying current.
There are many other pieces of the software development process that we left out, this is just a simplistic overview of the process. The end goal though is to partner with a development company that has a refined process that ensures success. You are in good hands if a company has been there and done it.