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Steps to follow Re-Design Your site

All websites should be in a process of being redesigned or renovated. This guide will give you some simple steps or a checklist to redesigning your website.

Evaluate Existing Site

What are the success and failures of your existing site? Gather a few people to get an honest evaluation of your existing site. Write three successes and three failures. Then write down your dreams and goals for the new site.

Branistroming

What new and fresh ideas are missing? Brainstorm with a team of people to get fresh ideas. Write down five ideas that came from the brainstorming.

Why People Now Visit

Why are people visiting your site? Generally they are coming for information or are in need of your company's product or service but there can be many other reasons. List three reasons.

Does It Grab Attention?

Do you think visitors remember your site? Does it have something that gets attention and is memorable? If he/she does not bookmark your site what will get them back? You should give your visitor something to remember so that he can find his way back to your site. Write one thing that will be remembered about your site.

Research Competitors

What can I learn from my competitors? Get ideas about the latest web design, technology and communication concepts by looking analytically at competitor sites. While you are there notice some of the keywords they are using to get the attention of people coming to search engines.

Target Audience

Who is the target audience? Decide whom you want to target with the site. Who is your customer or audience? Try and get into their shoes and think like they think. What are their needs or points of interest? How can they be served? List the top three categories of people. Write three one sentence descriptions of different people in your target audience. Then write a few words that might interest these people and cause them to respond to your site.

Theme And 'LOOK AND FEEL'

What is the mood or emotion that you want to communicate? Decide on the overall theme and "look and feel" of the site. For example: humor, professional, academic, family, technical, etc. Write three adjectives to describe the way you want your site to feel.

Content

This is probably why most people come to your site. They come to read your content. It should be clear and well written. A very high percentage of websites are providing poorly written content. The first generation of websites were written by the guy who knew HTML but not much about graphic design and writing. Now people realize that it takes a team effort to make a quality web page. Part of the team should be a good writer. Redesigning requires having several outsiders read your content to see if it is clear, up-to-date, accurate and communicates what it is supposed to. Then rewrite the content. Another tip is to provide more than just your company information but provide articles that attract people to the site.

Trust And Credibility

What will make your visitor believe you? Imagine going into an automobile repair shop or Doctors office. What is it that gives you a sense of trust that your car or body will be repaired correctly? A quality site that does what it says it is going to do will help. Also well-written content adds credibility. Perhaps you can guarantee your products. Testimonies by reputable people or companies are perhaps the best way to establish creditability. A list of previous customers is helpful. List a person, company or product that can be associated with your site to add trust and credibility.

Keep Search Engines in Mind

How do I redesign my site and write my text with the search engines in mind? Decide on keywords. This is a new concept that really only applies to redesigning or developing websites. It may not even apply to all websites, but to those who are depending on search engines this is an important point. The concept is to get good rankings on search engines with different keywords. Since many pages on your site can be indexed with a search engine this becomes an important strategy in attracting visitors.

Analyze Visitor Keywords

Look at your site statistics and see if the keywords entered by your visitors are matching the three target audiences you just listed. If not, then the redesigning needs to help move the site content, design, and promotion towards the target audience. You may be fooled to think that you are getting a high number of visitors but many of them may not be the kind of visitors that are important to your company or organization.

Analyze Popularity Of Pages

Look at your site statistics and carefully examine the popularity of the pages. You may need to redesign the site so that the pages that you want visited are the most popular. There will always be pages at the bottom of the list but your goal should be to make sure that the important pages are not at the bottom. Changing keywords etc. can boost some of these pages.

Analyze Visitor's' Actions

Are your visitors coming back and are they spending time at your site? If your visitors are not returning or they are only spending a few seconds at your site then something is wrong. A good site statistics program or service will help you know what your visitors are doing.

Navigation

Can the visitor find what is needed quickly and easily? As a first generation site grows it often outgrows its navigation. A good redesign will help. The new design needs careful thought so that the visitor will not get lost or be more than two clicks away from what he/she needs. There are many factors to consider. Here are a few examples. It is obvious that buttons are clickable? What links should always be available to the user? Is the information divided into logical categories and prioritized? Is old content archived and easy to find?

Personal Interest

Do you have a place where visitors can find out what is behind the scenes? Some people may want to know who is behind this website. What does their office look like? Revealing this can help build trust and credibility Consider posting a company newsletter or short biographies about employees.

Fresh News

Do your visitors feel they are visiting an active site? Sitting in a doctor's waiting room with old newspapers might make you wonder about the competence of the doctor. In the same way, visiting a site that was last updated in 1996 is a sure way to lose visitor trust. When redesigning the website build in ways to keep it fresh, but keep in mind that publishing dates can work against you. Don't create too much extra work for yourself unless you are a workaholic.

Product And Service Information

Are you making it easy for your customers to do business with you? Can they find what they need quickly? Can they respond easily? Your job in redesigning a website is to make things easy for visitors and customers. Carefully think through what a customer needs to do to get what he needs. Is it clear and simple? Eliminate unnecessary steps.

Information

Are you adding value to your visitor? To keep your visitors returning it is important to think of how you can serve him rather than what can my company get from him. This is one of the major shifts in thinking on the Internet. A printed brochure transferred to the Internet might be OK but serving your customer/visitor is better.

Interaction

Can your visitors exchange information with you? If you sell a product can the customer find out how the order is progressing? Can he/she easily get a question answered? This type of interaction is making life easier for everyone.

Collaboration

Can your visitors learn from each other? Collaboration is one of the most important advantages being discovered on the Internet. It is very common for visitors to a site to have as much or more knowledge on the subject than the experts behind the site. Collaboration between visitors can add a lot of value to your visitor's experience. Discussion forums all this exchange of information. If this information is archived it can be a good pool of information for future visitors.

Internationl Audience

If all or part of your audience is global then you need to consider a few things. First, many places don't have fast Internet access so the site needs to have fewer graphic and other slow loading items. Second, monitor sizes in some countries average 14"-15". The design should take this into consideration. Finally, many phrases and other culture things may not make sense, for example the phrase "ball park" estimate only makes sense to an American.

Speed

What needs to be compromised for the sake of speed? Site speed and server speed is the major bottleneck on the Internet. Only so much information can travel through a small phone line. This is what limits the size of pictures, amount of sound, and many other aspects of the Internet. In redesigning a site this is an all-pervading thought. It is the rare exception when the visitor will wait for a site to load. Consider the size of every piece of the site and determine if it can be made smaller or eliminated.

Graphics And Animation

Are the graphics able to load fast? Do the graphics communicate a concept? A website redesign should involve an evaluation and possible redevelopment of graphics and photos. The present graphics may be unnecessary or may be unclear or too large. In any case each one should be reconsidered. New software makes it possible to make better graphics that are smaller and load faster.

Components

Is the website taking advantage of components like, a discussion forum, poll, survey, guestbook, chat and more? These concepts behind and reasons for using these components are well covered in other points in this website redesign guide but it us helpful to think about how they can be used to improve your website.

Make It Easy For Customers To Do Business with you

Do know what your customer is thinking? When redesigning a website it would be helpful to know as much as possible about how your customer is responding to your site. Is he/she able to get all the information needed to make an informed decision? Are there too many steps involved in ordering or getting information? What obstacles are in the way?

Hire The Right People To Redesign Your Website

Will you select a team with the right mix of experience and talent? From the looks of the websites of many of the companies offering their design and development services it appears that many are one person operations. Either they are tech-gurus and lack the aesthetic abilities or they are artistic types that lack the technical know how to build a complex site. Building or redesign a website is best done with a team. A team can synergize their abilities and create a much better site. Your website is your signature. It is often the only way for people to evaluate who you are. Your profits depend on the quality of your site. Don't regret a poor decision in choosing who redesigns your website.