Have you been tasked with driving your organisation’s new website development project? Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space, getting it right is more important than ever. Your website needs to effectively attract, engage and convert your audience.
How do you ensure the new website you launch today will be functional and effective for years to come - for those who need to manage it, while continuing to deliver exceptional customer experiences?
As part of your overall website redesign strategy, you need to carefully consider your the following. Here are seven key steps during the website development process to keep in mind so you can successfully future proof your website experience and ensure you achieve a positive ROI on your investment.
1 . Find the right web CMS
Often times, organisations will focus on finding a vendor or agency to assist with their needs. However, the underlying content management system (CMS) platform which is used to manage your website, should also be a key focus. Remember, once your vendor or agency delivers your shiny new website, you and your team will need to manage it moving forward. Ask yourself:
- Can non-technical users update existing pages?
- Can non-technical users add new content? New pages? New navigation menu items?
- Can you create new micro-sites or sections to promote new campaigns?
- Can you set permissions or restrictions for the section’s publishers can access?
- What training is available to get new publishers up and running?
If your website CMS isn’t easy to update and publishers need to jump through hoops to publish content, you’ll likely end up with a website full of outdated information.
2. Find the right vendor or agency
Identifying the right website development company involves understanding how they can can help to build a great website that meets your current needs, as well how they will work with you to meet your future needs. Look at:
- Track record. How long have they been in business for? Is there a full in-house team? How long do they typically work with clients?
- Clients. Do they work with other organisations in your industry? Are there case studies and testimonials on their website?
- Support. What type of support do they offer (online, phone, email or in-person)? What level of support do they offer? Where is their support team located (local or overseas) What are their support hours? Who is your point of contact post-launch? Will you have an Account Manager?
- Maintenance. What is the yearly and/or maintenance cost? Does it offer update capability for any new releases such as upgrades, new applications, system rectifications? What security measures are in place? Are there Safeguards that provide penetration testing results against common attack vectors (XSS, DDOS, Brute force, SQL injection etc.) – Making sure these safeguards are continuously performed?
The best websites will evolve according to your audience and business needs. It’s important that your agency or vendor can continue supporting you throughout the project and beyond.
3. Focus on access and usability
Any website design company worth their salt will be factoring usability right into their web solutions, so ensure that your chosen website developer has considered the following:
- Responsive design. You need to ensure the interface adapts to the different devices commonly used, particularly smaller screens. Some organisations are even designing with a mobile-first approach.
- Navigation. Look at your main navigation, sidebars and secondary navigation menus. Is there a clear hierarchy and does it make it easy to find the most common/popular sections?
- Search. Sometimes people prefer to search for keywords to quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. Your website should enable them to refine their search by various categories at minimum!
- Accessibility. Does it meet web accessibility standards to ensure your website enables equal access for all your website visitors, including those with disabilities.
If possible, conduct user testing with key target audiences and let them guide your final website structure and layout. You might think content is well-structured, however, someone unfamiliar with the website could think otherwise! Ask them if they can easily identify the purpose of a page and the main CTA. You can get them to perform specific tasks or find certain information, and then take note whether they can do so easily.
Related reading: [Blog Post] Website Design Examples
4. Get your technical SEO right
Content may be king, but if your website isn’t set up to put its best foot forward to both attract visitors, then all your efforts would have gone to waste. When your website is optimised for technical SEO, it not puts it in the best position to rank well in the search engines, but offers a better user experience for your audience and encourages them to keep exploring your site. Here's some areas to consider when it comes to technical SEO.
Given the rise in mobile usage, your website must be optimised for the mobile experience.
Crawlable and indexable pages
If your website cannot be crawled and indexed by search engines, it has no chance of appearing when your target audience searches for a keyword.
Your URL should not be a series of random numbers and/or letters. It should make it clear what the page is about and optimised for the topic or keyword it is focused on.
Website loading times
This is not only an important ranking factor for search engines, it can be the difference between users staying on or leaving your website!
This is great for SEO, but also offers a better user experience for visitors as it links to relevant pages.
Using 301 redirects for pages that no longer exist
If you need to change the URL of a page, make sure you put in place 301 redirects to ensure link equity (ranking power) search engines have assigned to the URL, gets passed to the new URL.
Appropriate meta title and descriptions
This is also important for visitors. Remember, when your page shows up in search engines, both the meta title and (most often) meta descriptions will appear. It should be enticing enough for users to want to click on your page!
Optimised image alt tags
Adding text to images helps screen-reading tools describe images to readers who are visually impaired, while also helping search engines better crawl and rank your website for appropriate keywords. Bonus – it can also help the image appear in the ‘image search’ section of a search engine.
Optimised / compressed images
Your website needs to load every single image you upload to a page. If the image is too large, it can be slow to load, affecting the user experience.
5. Consider future functionality
Before you decide on a website development company, it’s worth considering in detail the features and functions your website will need in at least the next five years.
This could include anything from events management to online forms and payments, to customer login areas or even separate websites or micro-sites. Not sure where to start? A reputable website development team will be able to ask you the right questions about necessary functionality.
You’ll also want to be able to add and integrate functionality as needed. When speaking with vendors, be sure to ask whether their solution would allow your developers to add in new functionality with free API access.
6. Consider how you can personalise the website experience
In a study by Evergage, 88% of marketers reported a measurable lift in business results and 63% reported increased conversion rates from personalised website marketing strategies.
What this personalisation looks like for your website will depend on your objectives, however you can tailor the web experience based on a number of factors including:
• Referral source
• Website behaviour
• Stage in the buying journey.
For example, you might choose to offer different landing pages for users who came from a social media post to those who came from a paid Google Ads link. Alternatively, your website could have a log in section where users will see highly tailored dyanmic content personalisation based on their past website behaviour.
7. Approach website trends with caution
Website design has seen a number of trends over the years – flashing text, flat design, overused stock images and endless popups – and there’s no doubt more trends on the horizon. Any quality website development company will take these into consideration to ensure you design a modern website that audiences expect to receive. However, the focus will always be on designing with user experience in mind to guide the user effectively. Your website will load faster and your user experience will be vastly improved with a sleek, streamlined design, which will look great for years to come.
Looking for more information on web redesigns? You can download our Website Redesign Best Practices Guide, or read more about Elcom’s website redesign and development services.