[guest post by Savannah Wardle]
Without it, your website will face challenges in keeping up with important trends in aesthetics, usability, and even security. But as you evolve your website’s design, you face other potential threats to its overall success. This includes a dive in search engine optimization (SEO) rankings. And while you don’t have direct influence over your site’s SEO score, the design is a critical part of keeping those numbers up.
Here’s how to go about a smart redesign.
Allot enough time
Website redesigns are not to be thrown together in a day. You will need to map out a strategy before you begin, outlining a detailed plan and anticipating possible snags down the line (for example, going over budget or needing to hire a specialist to step in). At the end of your plan, determine when the transition will take place, as your old website should not be deactivated until the new one is ready (hint: Fridays are not a good idea, should anything go wrong!).
Assemble a stellar team
One of the common misconceptions about web design teams is that they can be teams of one. For example, a company may hire a web developer under the assumption that the position encompasses all skills.
While you can find web developers who are also web designers, many are not. So before you begin, carefully plan your dream team. That may mean that you need to find a couple new hires, but with super handy sites like Gumtree, that part needn’t take much of your time.
Evaluate the areas that you can upgrade
There are loads of behind-the-scenes code that you can upgrade in order to not only make your website shine in SEO, but also to make your website more accessible to more people. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Meta tags: These tags help search engines determine the structure of your website from the visuals to title to body text and everything in between. Meta tags are also helpful for website visitors who use screen readers.
- Keywords: Using your existing website metrics (if you aren’t reviewing metrics, start ASAP!) and re-evaluation of your content, add more strategic keywords that will draw in your audience.
- Images: Optimize your images for a faster website loading time.
Remember that some items should stay the same
Elements like URLs are risky to change, since doing so could affect the links within your site, as well as external sites that have linked to you. Marketing materials may also be made obsolete, though luckily that is an easier fix (though still problematic for all those business cards in circulation, for example). So if you do plan to change URLs, be sure to make the old URL redirect to the new one. Further, include your web developer in the planning phase, as they may have extra insight as to why you should or should not alter the URL structure.
Manage post-launch maintenance
Once your site has launched, you will still need to a) make sure your site can be crawled by search engines and b) submit your website map so that search engines may index it (hint: design your website to be responsive so that search engines won’t need to do these processes more than once, thus upping your SEO points!).
There are also long-term items to consider as well. Most important is that you track website metrics and analyze them regularly. They can tell you what your readers are most interested in, where in the world they are located, and what other websites are sending the most traffic your way. It’s also important to keep an IT staff person or contractor on speed dial in case you experience other technical issues down the line.
** About the Author: Savannah Wardle is an active writer currently working at Course Guru, Australian online education experts. She is passionate about writing and all things entrepreneurship.