Website Renewal: How to Plan it Properly
The need for website redesign or renewal comes in every two or three years with the changing trends in web design and the increasing demand of users for a better experience, website speed and performance. For businesses, this means constant efforts put in optimization and updates.
The website renewal process might turn into both a chance to fix certain technical issues and a threat to cause new ones if done in the wrong way. Here is why careful planning of the process is essential for ending up with a website that offers a better look, functionalities, and speed. Here are the most important steps that you should never skip:
Redesign the User Experience
Now is the time to think about the users and plan for a whole new experience for them on your website. Starting from its technical performance to the design of the last call-to-action button everything should look and work great. When thinking about how you can improve your website pay attention to:
- Creating user-friendly design – on average, users spend around 3 seconds on a webpage before deciding whether to continue browsing a website. This means 3 seconds for you to prove that your site is easy to navigate on and the design attracts the attention of your users, clients, partners, or other website visitors.
- Making the website responsive – this is not a recommendation. This is a must since more than half of the traffic will come from mobile devices. Make sure that you plan the redesign of your website in such a way to make it responsive for any kind of mobile and desktop device.
- Creating and updating your content for your users – think about who they are and customize your content to respond to the needs of your own clients and partners. Do not try to flood your content with keywords because this will not boost your search engine ranking.
Consider Link Paths and Redirection
It is very likely that after the launch of your website you have added new pages, categories, and menus. Usually, such an update contradicts the initial plan for your website when you were looking at the big picture, but now you need to adapt new content to your old vision. This often leads to improper link paths or even broken links. The time to avoid issues like this one is when you plan for your website renewal. At this point, you can decide to change certain categories or menus of the website which requires a redirection of the old links.
First of all, think of a link path that responds to your users’ needs and your business offering. An example of customer-oriented site could be the structure leading users in the following way:
Homepage – Service offering – Additional information – Contact form
Simple, but effective. Try it and you will notice an increase in customer engagement and conversion rates.
The next step is the redirection of old and broken links to the new ones. Usually, you will need it when your page is moved to a new location, you are changing your domain name or you need to remove and delete a page. In such case, you will need to do the so called 301 redirects.
A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect leading users and search engines to a new URL address. It should be done in a specific way not to damage your user experience and the way your website is being indexed by search engines. Take a look at the complete 301 Redirects guide by SEMrush to learn when and how to use redirects for your website.
Don’t Forget the SEO
Think about your SEO before your website renewal and this will save you time and efforts for optimization at a later stage. This is an ongoing process and at this point, you need to consider:
- How keywords have changed
- How competitors use keywords
- How search engine algorithms have changed and what they give most priority to
Have in mind that work on your SEO brings long-term results rather than a quick magical increase in your brand awareness, website visitors and conversions.
Create a Sitemap
Having gone through all the previous steps, the time comes to do the actual mapping of your website. You want to help Google navigate and find all new pages, don’t you? Then you need to plan and create a sitemap that will help your most important content get indexed on search engines. Without a sitemap, this will be nearly impossible to do and you will not be able to link your old content right on your updated website.
It is extremely important sitemaps to be created for new websites, very big websites with many pages and sites with large archives. Let’s take a look at some of the best XML sitemap generator tools recommended by SEMrush that can ease the process for you:
- Slickplan – this is a visual type of sitemap generator tool that is highly customizable and allows users to work on the visual representation of the hierarchy of pages on their website.
- Mindnode which is actually a mind mapping tool used to plan a project in a visual way. However, its functionalities allow for the visual planning of website sitemaps that could be exported in basic text formats and a PDF version. Mindnode is an app for Apple devices and has a free editor version.
- XML-Sitemaps is a classic sitemap tool that comes with both free and paid versions with good SEO features included. The tool can also detect some broken links on your website so that you can fix them. XML-Sitemaps has also a mobile app.
- XML Sitemap Generators for WordPress – in the past these were always needed as additional plugins until version 5.5 of WordPress came with the XML sitemap function. However, you can still continue using the popular Google XML Sitemaps, Yoast SEO, or XML Sitemap Generator WordPress plugins to help you generate a sitemap for your website.
Once you are done it is time to submit your sitemap. Google offers some great guidelines and opportunities to do it as easy as possible – link.
You Are Not Done
Renewing your website is a never-ending process. Progress in web development, new trends in digital marketing, new business environment and the evolvement of industries will require constant changes updates. With new technologies, users will become more and more demanding and less likely to engage with a website that has a poor design, speed and functionalities. For you, this means keeping an eye on trends and being able to react on time.