5 Questions to Ask Before Your Next Website Redesign

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When I talk to clients who are looking to create a new website or refresh an old one, I often hear a few of the same things:

Easier to navigate. More interesting graphics. Better integration of video and social media. A better user experience.

And these are all really important things.

But what I don’t usually hear a lot about initially is WHAT or HOW they plan to communicate their brand story on that same website.  I don’t often hear questions like:

What sort of things are important to communicate to my audience? Is what I’m currently communicating effective? What information are they really looking for, and what’s the best way to share it with them?

These are important questions because I believe the power of our words – including how we talk to people – can never be underestimated.  That’s why I love this short video so much. It illustrates exactly what I’m thinking in under 3 minutes. Check it out:

The Power of Words

So if we know communication can be such a powerful tool, why do we wait until last to talk about content for our new websites? Why isn’t it front and center during our web redesign and strategy conversations?

Here are five questions that I think will help any organization think strategically about their next website redesign and how they can successfully communicate with and engage their audience.

1. Who are you talking to? Think about your website’s primary, and even secondary, audiences. What do they want to know and how do they like to be communicated with? What are their interests and needs? How comfortable are they with technology? Answering all of these questions up front will not only help direct your brand voice and key messaging for your site; it should also drive your choices in terms of navigation and the content you choose to highlight.

2. How does your audience prefer to consume content? Take a look at your target audience and learn how (and where) they are consuming content. Do they love to watch videos? Are they avid blog readers? How much do they use social media – and which platforms are most popular with them? And a final key question: are they frequently using smartphones or tablets? Answering these questions will help direct the development of your site as well as the kind of content you choose to create for it.

3. How can you become a helpful resource in their lives/business? Stop thinking about your website as an online brochure. Instead, start thinking about how it can be a helpful resource to your audience. What can you offer that will in some way help make their lives easier? For example, if you sell pet shampoo, is there information you can provide to help a visitor to your site learn how to better care for his/her pet? Can you help them with grooming tips? Think about the pain points that pet owners have and then consider how you can fill it with helpful content. This will set you up as an expert in their eyes and when they decide to buy their next bottle of shampoo (or insert your own product or service), they’re likely to consider you.

4. How can design and content work together to create a beautiful and meaningful conversation between you and your audience? Too often the design and content teams on a web project don’t work together. One group is creating amazing designs while the other is planning for how and what to communicate. Then, when they come together, they’re on separate pages. Or, we often create the design first with filler “loren ipsum” content (who doesn’t want to see concepts for a great new version of their site?) – but we also don’t even THINK about the actual content until we’ve already approved and spent hours on the design. The result is a great design, but one that might not be conducive to what and how you want to communicate. My advice? Get your designer(s) and writer(s) in the same room – early. Working together will result in a beautiful site AND one that includes engaging content that facilitates meaningful conversation with your audience that leads to action (and sales).

5. What’s your plan for creating – and maintaining – these conversations via your content? You’ve spent hours planning for and approving designs. And even more hours crafting your content, writing copy, and maybe even creating videos. Your site is ready to go – and it looks amazing! But do you have a plan moving forward? If you’ve integrated social media, a blog and/or videos into your website, do you have a plan for keeping this content fresh? Is anyone at your company tasked with ongoing content creation for your new site? It’s amazing how quickly a new website can become out of date. So please, please, please. Don’t let all of your work go to waste. Think beyond the launch of your website to maintaining it as well.

What about you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What has been your experience with website redesigns? Do you agree with my 5 questions? Would you add any to my list?

 

 

 

 

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