How to Create an Actionable Plan for a Site Redesign
If you’re considering a website re-do, then this is the episode for you! Bob, Jesse and Sue come together to discuss what to take into account when undergoing a website redesign, including how to be mindful of your decisions to make sure you’re getting a good ROI out of your redesign.
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What you’ll learn
- What reasons are common for updating your website.
- Why it’s important to consider your website from a visitor perspective.
- How to plan your website change with purpose.
Transcript For Things to Consider Before You Redesign Your Website – 139;
Jesse Dolan: A lot of themes function differently from others, and they might have certain modules or abilities, or not, that your current theme does. So if you just have your website that’s fully developed and you just go switch themes, you may break your website.
Welcome back to Local SEO Tactics, where you bring you tips and tricks to get found online. I’m your host, Jesse Dolan, Mr. Bob Brennan, Sue Ginsburg.
Sue Ginsburg: Hi.
Jesse Dolan: Got the whole crew together on this one here today.
Sue Ginsburg: All right.
Jesse Dolan: Ready to solve all the problems in the local SEO world. Sue, I know we’re going to be talking about web design, but what is our specific question and where is it coming at us from today?
Sue Ginsburg: Okay. Today’s question comes from a listener and a client. Thank you, Nishant. Question is, “What are the decisions you have to make when redoing your website? What do you need to do to your web host? What do you need to do with your theme, your domain name host, your URL, your SEO? What else do you have to do, and what hidden costs are there beside the investment you are already making to redo your website?”
And again, this question comes from a very, very smart man with Princeton Eye and Ear. And as we were discussing what redoing a website entails, he was asking all these questions, which I thought was brilliant. And again, I’m sure he is not the only business owner who thought of these things when they’ve thought about making any change, updating, redoing their website.
Quote of the day is, “If you give a mouse cookie,” which is the name of a book, the author is Laura Numeroff and it’s a kid’s book, but it really is also adults’ book, and the message being, once you do one thing, if you give a mouse a cookie, he might ask you for a glass of milk. If you give him a glass of milk, he might ask you for a napkin. If you give him a napkin, he might ask you for a straw. And I think that as business owners, we don’t even have to think to understand that, because lots of things domino into many other things. And suddenly you give a mouse of cookie and the rest of your day is shot. That’s where that saying comes from.
Just to give a little context for this. Redoing your website, part of doing business in today’s world, it can’t be avoided, at least if your online presence is important to you. What are some of the more common reasons to redo or update your website? There are many, but here are some of them. Your business has evolved. Your services have changed. Your website no longer reflects what you do. Footnote, we just launched a new website for this very reason. Yay. If you haven’t already seen it, go to intrycks.com and tell us what you think. If you’ve been to the website before you will definitely see a difference.
Jesse Dolan: Yep.
Sue Ginsburg: We invite and welcome your feedback. We’re really happy with the website and it will only be getting better as we go into the enhancements, embellishments and edits that we have planned and will be doing. So please go check it out, intrycks.com.
Okay. Other reasons, it looks old and outdated. Translates to not looking trustworthy to visitors. If you are thinking you don’t need to update your website, even though it’s 10 years old, think again. It does not translate to a good message to the visitors who are finding you online. Another reason is it isn’t user-friendly. The experience that your visitors have, isn’t easy, isn’t intuitive, or isn’t engaging. And you’re basically chasing visitors away. Why have a website that makes it difficult for your visitors to engage with? They will not stay.
Another reason is your website’s purpose has changed. Maybe now you want to tab eCommerce on it. Maybe you’re offering courses now. It’s educational, not whatever it was before. That’s another reason to change your website. Another reason is your target audience has changed, which means that your messaging will change. Now you’re not dealing to the doctor anymore, now your dealing with the patient themselves or whatever.
Another reason, your customers or your users are complaining to you that they can’t find you. Your website doesn’t work on mobile. Some parts of your website aren’t working, broken links, whatever. It’s a little embarrassing, but you can resolve that by making the changes, updating, redoing, whatever. When it gets to that point I would say don’t delay, it’s already too late.
Next reason is it’s difficult to add functionality. You’ve outgrown your current site. A lot of business owners run into this. When you first built your website or since you’ve built your website, the technology has changed greatly. We all know the speed at which technology changes, and that includes the things that websites and website hosts are able to do. You may want to add something and for whatever reason, your current site doesn’t allow that. Time to change websites and time to maybe change hosts as well.
Another reason is your competitor’s websites are so much more attractive than yours. Good reason. You want to be at least as attractive as theirs, hopefully more attractive. And by attractive I don’t just mean good looking, colorful, whatever. Attractive as far as appealing to them, engaging to them. Because you don’t just want visitors to find your website, which of course we help you do, you also want them to stay on your website, which we help you to do also. Easy to understand why a website needs updating or redoing every few years. I think that makes sense, whether it’s a little by little or a major overhaul like we just did, there are definitely reasons to do it. And it is not an uncommon time or activity needed in the life cycle of a business.
When you’re getting estimates for the marketing investment needed to redo your website it’s important to know what those estimates include. A very sharp client recently asked what other costs there will be other than the estimate we had provided, which is a good and fair question. We know websites and what it entails. They don’t, that’s why they’re hiring us. What other costs are there which are included in the estimates and which aren’t? Because if you’re looking at different estimates, one may include everything. The other may not, you don’t want to hire the other one and then find out, “Oh, I have these other things I need to add on. Why didn’t I know that before?”
I’m guessing that many of you may be surprised to learn that your website needs a good, healthy redo every year. I just think that business owners don’t think that way. And a lot of business owners also don’t go to their website and look at it very often, for whatever reason. In order to stay relevant and appealing to your customers you do need keep your website updated, current, appealing, attractive, competitive, all of those things.
Let’s ask the experts what else needs to be changed, along with your website at the time you change your website, so we can all be a little smarter and know what we’ll need to do when we’re doing or updating our website, like we just did. What do you two have to say?
Jesse Dolan: First, I do want to say that I feel a little bit attacked, Sue. We did upgrade and update our website, and I feel like 80% of your bullet points on why you should be doing this were the things you’ve been arguing for the last six months with us. Our website is scaring people away. We design websites, but you would never know it by looking at her old one.
All jokes aside, I think literally those did apply to us, which we’ve been joking we’re the plumber with leaky pipes in their basement. You know what I mean?
Sue Ginsburg: Right.
Jesse Dolan: Then it was high time we finally got around to updating our site to reflect the products and services that we have to offer, and to highlight our skills a little bit better. As you said earlier, just given a fresh plug. Go out to intrycks.com, check it out. It’s not done. We’re definitely subscribing to the crawl, walk, run methodology here. We launched our new site, but we’re in the crawl phase. We’re still adding more functionality, more pages and expanding information here as we go forward.
But I think it’s pretty good. It’s a modern looking site, quote unquote. Mobile responsive, got some good colors on it. And a lot more appealing than before, which is to your point, not just to get found but stay on the site to read the information and know you’re in the right place.
I would definitely want to start off with here and then we can round table, but you hit on one of your last points the hidden costs. And that’s something I think people definitely need to be aware of. Again, if you’re working with us, we’re usually pretty all inclusive in our web design proposals, because we’re aware of all these hidden costs and try to be transparent. But the cheaper your website is, the more you should be aware of these hidden costs. I should say the cheaper your website proposal or quote from your vendor is, the more you should be aware or look for some of these hidden costs.
You’re always going to need visual elements on your website. Photos, videos, graphics, logos, infographics, thumbnails, icons. Website isn’t just text. It’s all that included? Are you using recycled stuff that’s on every other website, just some common theme and template? What are you getting with it? If you’re paying a smaller amount of money the odds are all of those types of visual assets are, again, stock photos, reused templates.
Bob, I know we’ve joked before, either by ourselves or even on the show, about a business that you had where you did a logo and thought it was an amazing logo, but then a couple months later you’re like, “Hey, that looks really similar to my logo,” and it was designed by the same company. Just changing up some colors and maybe letters a little bit, but same context.
Bob Brennan: Yeah, it was funny because it was a realtors logo. And I talked to the realtor and I go, “Hey, do you use so and so to design here over in Minneapolis?” And they’re like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Oh, okay.”
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Jesse Dolan: “I can tell.”
Bob Brennan: You used the same logo for us.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s bad.
Bob Brennan: Thousands of dollars we both paid for this logo, which was classic.
Sue Ginsburg: Wow.
Bob Brennan: So yeah.
Jesse Dolan: They got their money out of that template.
Bob Brennan: Oh yeah.
Jesse Dolan: But that’s the kind of thing, again, talk hidden costs here. It’s not just that you got the website, but what are my visual assets? Are these unique, are they recycled, did you design them? And talking specifically about photos and video, we always want that stuff to be as unique as possible, not using stock. Actual photography of your place, your people, your building, your products and services. Because that’s important for Google nowadays too, and it makes your website a heck of a lot sexier and stands out.
So those kinds of things. Also content writing, is your new website just going to take your existing content and pages, copy them over and now they’re have a fresh coat of paint, but it’s the same text and everything else. Or does content need to be rewritten, expanded on, things like that. That can get pretty costly. That’s a very labor intensive process, so being aware of how much content writing or rewriting there is as part of it or not.
Also, particularly if you’re looking at either moving to or switching within WordPress, the themes, the plugins potentially, if there’s … Usually part of the discussion when somebody wants a new website or a refresh is some functionality changes, maybe to integrate scheduling or payments or these different things. Those are going to come at a cost too. A website can be eCommerce ready, meaning that it’s able to have eCommerce put on it. It doesn’t mean it’s doing eCommerce, that’s probably going to have some other layers that need to be added. So just fully vetting out all those plugins, those themes of those types of deals as well.
Also, hosting, you touched on that, Sue. Depending on how robust your website is, if you want to have your own private server versus a shared server. Or again, if you were not on WordPress but you are now, does there need to be any changes to your web host to be able to accommodate that? We’re not talking about crazy money there. It may be going from 10 bucks a month to 15 or 20 bucks a month for your hosting plan. But depending on your budget and all things, these can all add up. Especially if you weren’t aware of them and they’re surprises at the 11th hour.
Starting there, I think that’s all important. That’s actual money outlaid. And then also understand your time budget. You’re going to want to review the page, be the final editor in chief. Even clients that hire us, which I like to think were pretty white glove, full service on the process, we want them to review these pages. It’s much easier to have a forced review and get feedback now, than to three months later somebody say, “What the heck is this on this page? I never would’ve wanted it like that. How come you did it?” And it’s like, “Well, it’s always been like that.” Surprise, this is the first time you’ve looked at it in three months.
You definitely want to comb through your website to make sure everything’s good. Make sure there’s no errors. A lot of web design is built on templates or themes and things like that, which means there may be some pre-populated data that was there that didn’t get swapped out and you just want to find those things. An investment of time is a hidden cost, whether it be you or people on your team or both, that can get overlooked quite often.
Now as far as some other things, Sue. I’m trying to parse out some of the things you were hitting on at the beginning here. We talked in a different episode about changing your domain name, and there’s some things that kind of go with that. Let’s just maybe assume in this example of redoing your website, you’re not changing your domain name or migrating somewhere. This is, “I have a website. I just need it to look better and function better going forward,” is the context here.
I think that an important thing people need to do, that can possibly be a big time saver, is make sure you backup your old website first. We actually prefer to start the new website in a sandbox, we call it. Where we will take the existing website, clone it, set it up as a new installation on the web host, but have it be hidden. It’s not out there, people aren’t navigating through this, it’s just hidden in the background. But it provides a completely separate website that can be redeveloped while your current website exists. So it’s working on the project and then replacing it once your new website is done.
Backup your old website, put that over into a sandbox, start developing the new one from there. And you’re not going to lose any data, you’re not going to accidentally override live pages and get rid of something that you wanted to save from before. That’s something that can happen if you’re just going in and updating your current website. Again, take something like WordPress. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, I just need to get a new theme on my WordPress and I’ll be good to go.” A lot of themes function differently from others, and they might have certain modules or abilities, or not, that your current theme does. So if you just have your website that’s fully developed and you just go switch themes, you may break your website. You know what I mean?
Again, that’s where we want to keep your current website live, start working on your new one in the background. So if you break something, you didn’t break your live website. It can be undone, it can be fixed and it’s not going to make an impact to your day-to-day business. That’s definitely an important thing. And if you’re having a professional agency that do this web redesign and overhaul for you, that should be part of their standard process, is developing it in some kind of environment like that.
Let’s see her, some of the other things you’re talking about. Yeah. Do you need a new theme? Are there things that you wanted to do as a business owner? We can sometimes sit there and just know that we need a new website to make it look sexier, have it do a certain function. But definitely understand that the people providing you with this service need some specific direction, just to be efficient. You definitely want to have input to your developers on what your vision is, the things that you want, how you want it to look, feel, act, whatever. Anything that you can can communicate is going to speed the process up.
Otherwise, if you just leave it in the hands of your developers, they’re going to give it their best shots to give you a good looking website and make those changes, but ultimately you’re going to have revisions. And if you can just have those conversations on the front side and set those expectations, whether it’s documentation or just Zoom conversation, you’re going to speed up the process, you’re going to have less revisions. And ultimately have a more positive experience.
I think you can always get a lot of animosity if there’s a lot of back and forth. You start saying, “I don’t trust these people. They don’t understand.” Well, it’s like, no, you just didn’t give direction. And both sides start to get a little less pleasant than it could be. And ultimately, the product isn’t going to be as good if that’s the case. So put some thought on the front side on some of your desires and some of your wishes, and I can guarantee you, at least if you’re working with a good professional agency, they want that. The more guidance and direction you can provide the better, because then they know all the things that they have to incorporate into the recipe. They’ve got the talent and the skills, they know the technical side, they want to meet your expectations.
Part of this is then going to be … Kind of in the same vein again, if you’re redoing your website, maybe there’s some color changes, the branding, the look and the feel. The visual aspects tend to be a big part of the need for a redesign. Not just the accessibility, the mobile friendliness or some of the functions, but almost always it’s, “It needs to look better. It needs to look modern. I need to update the look of my website, the design of my website.”
Put some thought into what are your colors. Again, a professional firm is going to want some kind of a brand guide. Are there fonts we’re supposed to use or not? Are there colors we’re supposed to use or not? Do you have a logo file? Are you changing your logo? Just these visual and aesthetic things are very important to spell out and think about on the front side. And Bob, like we before, various elements too. Like the website, we always say it, get that phone number big red so it can’t be missed. Think about those kinds of things on your website too, what can you improve? What’s what’s lacking in it right now from a conversion standpoint? That’s the lob to you, Bob.
Bob Brennan: Oh, great. Well, then here’s one thing I would tell you too is, as a business owner I’m always looking for that silver bullet. I’m looking for that shortcut. Heck, that’s been my theme my whole life. But one thing the way I think you need to look at a website redesign is this, money is an amplifier of your personality and your character, I think the older I get. And that’s why I think when you see people that, for instance, that win the lottery, it doesn’t always end well for them. It isn’t always a panacea and their life is happily ever after. A lot of cases it gets worse.
Not to get deep and dark on this, but ultimately … Here’s something that I think you need to etch in your brain. The less you’re in touch with your customer, the worse your website’s going to be. In other words, it’s not going to do what you want it to do. If you’re going to spend any time and money you need to understand your customer, your prospects and everybody. And what are they thinking, what’s their pain? Everything else that goes with it, get that dialed in. Once you have that dialed in, quantify it, express it, figure out how you’re going to get that out on the site. And then you can take it to the developer.
But if you’re going to the developer and the web builder or whatever, sorry, but if you’re going to them thinking, “Okay, this person’s just going to throw up this magical website and my business is going to double,” you’ve already lost the game.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah.
Bob Brennan: That’s my two cents. I mean, you really got to take the time, do the work to dig into why are these people calling me and what is their pain, and why am I different? What am I going to put out there that’s going to prompt them to use us, or even call me and find out, are we the real deal? Dig out those nuggets, if you will. Then go to your web designer and say, “Okay, this is the number one thing on their mind. And this is number two, and this has to be … And this is a key.” And it has to be mobile optimized.
Jesse Dolan: Yeah.
Bob Brennan: What’s the stat?
Sue Ginsburg: 80 plus.
Bob Brennan: We look at our phones 150 to 200 times a day type of deal. I don’t even look at my own kids that much.
Jesse Dolan: It’s fair to say.
Bob Brennan: It’s one of those things you’ve got to get vested into your customers. And once you feel you’ve done that, then go interview web people. But don’t even … I mean, if you’re going with it, the expectation that, “Oh, my cousin found this guy and he is really good, or this gal,” and you’ve lost the game already. I think so.
Jesse Dolan: Further in what you’re saying, Bob, too, it’s like, let’s just say if you haven’t done that and you just don’t have that stuff mentally … And this is part of our checklist. If you’re using a web design agency that’s going to be worth their salt, that conversation is forced. You know what I mean?
There’s no way we’d build a website for somebody right now that’s not going to have some of those things you’re talking about, Bob. We’ll have a meeting on Zoom ahead of time. And if those things don’t come out, we’re asking. We’re going through the website, sharing the screen, saying, “What’s your call to action? What are you trying to do here? Why do people call you?”
Bob Brennan: Right.
Jesse Dolan: We’re forcing that conversation. If you’re out there, maybe thinking about getting a web design, redesign or in process, if you haven’t had that conversation with yourself and your current team is not pushing that on you, that’d be a big red flag or maybe a time to pause and have that conversation.
Just because, to your point, Bob, you’re not going to … Your website may look better, it may look cooler, but you’re really not going to get something that’s going to give you that ROI and is really going to resonate. And do anything other than just be a brochure to replace your old one, and it’ll soon be outdated as well.
Sue Ginsburg: Bob?
Bob Brennan: Yeah. And go ahead, Sue.
Sue Ginsburg: I think this is such a good point, and it also goes back to something you said earlier, where business owners need to realize, “Am I doing this for a strategy or for vanity?” Really, this is not to make the best looking website so you can tell all your friends and family, “Look at how good this is.” It’s to make your business better and make you more appealing to more customers and more people, so you need to make it user-friendly and what they want, not necessarily what you want.
Bob Brennan: Right. And I don’t know if it’s …. I want to say it’s Seth Godin, it could be somebody else that just said, “People don’t like to expend energy.” So if you can take all the barriers down from your website so that you can expend less energy, that’s … I know that sounds millennial-like, but it’s not. It’s just, it’s the human experience. We just, we really don’t want to look for that phone number. We want it right there, I want to be able to tap the screen on my phone-
Sue Ginsburg: So true, so true.
Bob Brennan: … and get my plumbing taken care of, or get my questions answered. And that, from a design perspective, the design begins with your customers. It really does. In addressing their pain, in the top three or four … If you’re not even sure, just the top three or four questions they ask you over the phone, or in person if you’re having a meeting or whatever the case is. Try to get at those out of the way.
And then you can have dancing clowns and other things on your website that … You know what I mean, that kind of entertain people. But it’s not about being coy, it’s about really taking care of the needs of the customer.
Sue Ginsburg: Such a great point.
Jesse Dolan: Definitely always try to be more, to your point, Bob, that whole don’t-make-me-think, just clear … Tell me what the real thing is, not learn more-
Bob Brennan: Right.
Jesse Dolan: … read more, whatever. Why should I learn or read more, what’s the end result? That’s a strong call to action.
Sue Ginsburg: And I just want to clarify that when Bob says, “Don’t make me think,” that’s for the customer, not the business owner. Because when you redo your website, the business owner needs to be thinking. It’s a great exercise to go through some of these questions. “What do I want to communicate? Does this reflect what my customers ask me most? Is my messaging clear? Do I have a good call to action? Is that what my customers want to do?”
The don’t-make-me-think is for your customer. We want the business owner to think. If you put in your thinking before you redo the website, your website will work that much harder for you.
Jesse Dolan: Right on.
Sue Ginsburg: Okay. If you remember one thing and one thing only remember this, redoing or updating your website is part of being in business. It also is not done in isolation. There are other changes that must happen along with it. And when you know what they are, there are no surprises and you can do it right.
And even though it’s a second thing, I want to add this in. For project makeover, if you want to think of redoing your website for that, it’s just like getting a really good haircut. You feel really good afterwards. You’re like a new person. It’s exciting, you have a different outlook on life. Having just gone through this with our website, I just can’t believe how exciting it is.
And I’ll also give a little plug. I’ve done many, many, many websites over time, and working with our team was so easy. It actually was fun. They were good. And if you need to get a new haircut for your website, please give us a call and let us at least talk to you about it-
Jesse Dolan: For sure.
Sue Ginsburg: … because I think that we can really help make your website better.
Jesse Dolan: Not bad advice, Sue. Everybody should take you up on that. My personal opinion, a little bias.
Sue Ginsburg: That’s great. Really good. Okay, so back to the quote of the day, “If you give a mouse a cookie,” or in this case, if you give a website an update or a haircut, there are many things that the domino effect will fall into place afterwards. And better to think about them upfront. And even if you just to know that whoever your firm is that you’re working with is handling it for you so you don’t, that’s what making it easier for you is.
Jesse Dolan: Yep. Perfect. Good conversation. Lot of questions in this one, framed around one topic.
Sue Ginsburg: Yeah.
Jesse Dolan: Hopefully all you listening, there’s some stuff that you pulled out of there, whether you’re currently redesigning your entire website or maybe just aspects of it. I think there’s a lot of useful bits there. If you’ve got a question in this realm, another topic about web design, SEO, digital marketing, the kind of stuff that we talk about on this show, reach out to us. We’d love to answer that, help you out and help everybody else out who isn’t asking it, but is also wondering the same thing.
You can find us at localseotactics.com. Scroll down to the bottom, click on the button for Submit a Question. You can type it in, or you can call it in. If you call it in, we’ll play your recording of the audio on the show, and we’ll also send you off a free Intrycks T-shirt for the trouble. We hope to hear from you on that.
Also, Sue, because we are talking about web redesign and the fact that we just launched our new site, intrycks.com, you can also go there and check it out. If you want to submit a question through there, go to intrycks.com, scroll down to the bottom. We’ll have a link there also for Submit a Question. We’ll take it the same way, and then you can also take a look at our fancy new website and see what kind of things we can do for you too.
Thanks for the good discussion everybody. Hopefully we helped some people out out there and we’ll catch you all next time. Take care.
Sue Ginsburg: Bye.
Bob Brennan: Bye, now.
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