A website is the core of a company's digital existence. Nearly all the different aspects of the company's operations, in one way or another, depend on the website in order to run smoothly. A modern website should therefore be renovated completely every couple of years and developed continuously in the meantime. Slight changes to the site's layout keep it looking fresh at all times.
In addition, campaign sites and landing pages, as well as other marketing and communications tools, should be utilized to complement the site.
So, what is your particular situation? Are you working with an utterly outdated site or is it just time for a refreshing facelift?
In this article we tell you what you need to focus on whether your website needs a few touch-ups or to be put through an extreme makeover. We also have examples of what a successful website revamp looks like.
1. The master plan
Your revamp project should start with defining objectives. So, it's time for a website renovation – why? What is the objective? This should stem straight from the overall strategy of your company. Is your goal to, for example:
- boost sales
- improve search engine visibility
- make your online brand stronger
- get customers more involved
- reach out to new target audiences, such as international markets or new customer groups
- upgrade customer service online
- streamline the website's automated features
- recognize website visitors more effectively and utilize their attention
- tighten the bond between online and offline customer experience
- or is it simply time to freshen up the design of the site?
You may have many objectives but it's good to define the most important one and the secondary ones right at the beginning.
2. Movers and shakers
It is a shame that very often a website revamp project becomes the marketing or IT department's own little project, even though the website should service everyone in the company.
Especially in a more extensive website overhaul, not only the overall strategy of the company but also the strategies of different departments should be taken into consideration.
At least the strategies and potential problem areas of these departments should get your attention:
- customer service
- online store, stock management and logistics
Create a digital survey about the website revamp or simply ask the staff to send their ideas and concerns via email.
However, it is crucial that one department takes the wheel with the project and has the last word – after considering the opinions of others.
The most triumphant website projects are usually led by marketing, or in smaller companies also by the owner, because they move most flexibly between the different departments in the company and maneuver near the customer interface. They also have the best view of the big picture when it comes to the company's operations.
In modern website projects technology is in the background and the spotlight is on user experience, understanding the customer, business processes and customer service. This is why it's becoming more rare that these projects are led by the IT department.
3. Little tweaking or full makeover
It is a completely different thing to do a full revamp as opposed to slight changes. They both have their time and place and in the ideal situation you alternate between them.
The difference between a little tweak and a full makeover lies in the resources they require. Therefore, you should think long and hard which one is needed – and which one you realistically have the resources for.
The magnitude of the renovation also impacts which service provider you choose. Your company might be facing a brand renewal and you want to change all the visuals of the company starting from the color scheme and the logo.
In this case it is advisable to find an established creative partner in addition to the technical provider. With a design or an ad agency you can create a collective strategy for the following years. This is your game plan if you also want to change everything from business cards to flyers to all other printed material.
However, if the visual appearance and strategies are clear, your ideal service provider is specialized in website redesigns and offers a wide range of services related to them. Professional creative agencies and technical providers are also used to cooperation, so combining an existing agency partner and the CMS provider should always be possible.
Image: The objectives for Scanfil's website renovation were mobile-friendliness and a modern layout. The website that was created with Liana Technologies' LianaCMS was designed by the Finnish creative agency Pohjolan Mylly.
4. Staying or going
Because the website is such a key element in a company's operations, it really is crucial to find the right service provider. Some sort of comparison should always be done – and price is usually the worst criterion for it.
Reliability, continuous development and high-quality customer service pay for themselves many times over in the long run. In other words, don't be blinded by the price tag but instead consider the benefits of a companion that stays relevant due to constant upgrades and offers you support at a moment's notice.
Obviously many of those that are going to have their website redone already have some sort of service provider.
The big question is: should you keep the old one or look into new providers as well. It doesn't make sense to break a good working relationship on a whim but you definitely should not settle if the old doesn't quite meet your current or future needs.
When assessing your existing service provider, consider at least these following things:
- Has the website functioned reliably?
- Has the customer service been great and attentive?
- Have the customer service and development of the service and tools been active?
- How well have your problems been solved?
- Do you feel that you matter to the company?
- Have there been any problems regarding security or servers, for instance?
- What does the future of the service provider look like – is there a merger into a large international corporation in the horizon, and what does the financial record say about the company?
- How much do you get from your service provider: is the service range comprehensive, and are you directed to competent partners if the situation requires, or are you constantly using your own time searching for new service providers to meet your changing needs?
5. The right tool for you
A key factor in choosing a service provider is choosing the tool itself, in most cases the CMS i.e. content management system. These things should at least be considered when choosing one:
- User-friendliness – a tool that is difficult to use costs you a lot of work hours yearly
- Offered support – who helps and answers when problems arise?
- Is user training available?
- Continuous development – how often has the CMS been updated/will be updated during your customership and will it be in the future?
- Future prospects: is the CMS development being put effort into and is the company growing, or are there concerns that system development will come to a halt in the near future?
- Reliability and location of servers
- Updates: how often are there system updates, who takes care of them, and are they included in the price? And are the possible changes related to layout, plugins, etc. that updates inevitably bring included?
- How is data security ensured and who has resbonsibility for it?
- Scalability – does the CMS meet your needs in the future as well or will you have to switch to a sturdier one when your business grows or when you attach new systems to your palette?
- Compatibility: how does the CMS integrate with your other digital tools – now and in the future?
Image: BusinessOulu chose LianaCMS as the platform for their fresh website. It's important to look into the future in a website revamp project and make sure that the new tool is continuously developed, secure and scalable.
6. Mission division
Nowadays a growing number of website-related services come from one single provider. At the same time, content creation and search engine optimization increasingly become the company's internal operations – which is only natural.
When planning a redesign project, you should at least define who handles the following areas:
During the project:
- website layout designing
- website user experience (UX) designing
- website building and technical testing
- search engine optimization and redirecting
- going through the content of the existing website
- moving content from the old site to the new one
- content production: texts, images and videos
- possible user testing
- media monitors and moving them
After the project:
- CMS user training
- user support
- website technical maintenance and development
- CMS updates and the changes required to layouts and plugins
- data security
- server maintenance and backups
- technical support
- continuous search engine optimization
- continuous content production and updating
- possible continuous testing (A/B testing, conversion optimization)
7. Faster, higher, stronger
Since websites are revamped every couple of years, this clearly means that technology has developed during this time and you shouldn't settle for what you got many years ago.
A good rule of thumb is that the new website should make work faster and more efficient in at least a few processes – inside the company or for the customer, preferably for both.
A site revamp project is the best opportunity to view what on the site could be automated and simplified. The goal of these actions is to decrease the amount of manual labor.
Different filters, listings and automation help in making the site more manageable and functional. A professional service provider can help you with other things than just visual changes. The ultimate reward might be that the renovation project pays itself back quickly in growing sales or work hours previsouly spent in manual labor.
Image: Aalto University Executive Education's website is easy to navigate.
8. Make it count
A new website is an investment that should make profit. Because marketing and communications tasks have become more and more measurable, every website revamp has to produce clear numerical data that is derived straight from the objectives: more visitors, longer visits and a better conversion percentage.
A great service provider advises how monitoring, measurability and reporting can be improved with the site renovation and what tools are available for this.
In addition to the traditional Google Analytics and its versatile functions, there are many different kinds of analytics programs available. However, an increasing amount of analytics can also be produced with high-end marketing automation tools.
9. Handy toolkit
A website is at the core of all marketing and communications operations and the different digital tools. It's hard to get by without it, but on the other hand, without other tools a lot of possibilities are left unused.
While doing a website renovation, you should make sure that other areas are up to par. By acquiring all the tools from one provider and integrating them to your website, you can gain great financial benefit and see that work is done more efficiently. For example, go through:
- email marketing tools
- marketing automation
- media database and press release distribution
- social media and media monitoring
- digital event management.
Image: A growing number of those that redesign their website, also add other marketing tools on the site simultaneously. Liana Technologies' Marketing Cloud tools all work from one single user interface and it's easy to navigate between them with a menu bar.
Website revamp coming up?
Ask our experts for a visit and get acquainted with our continuously evolving and user-friendly LianaCMS. Liana Technologies has implemented website redesign projects for over a decade and above all aspires to offer everything under the same roof with a professional and humane approach. We constantly and with pleasure work together with design and creative agencies in website projects.
This article was originally published on September 19th, 2016 and updated on August 1st, 2018.