Redesigning a website takes a lot of planning and forethought. There are a lot of small details that can distract you from seeing the big picture. I have compiled a short list of points to keep in mind before and during your redesign that will help your website relaunch successfully.
Learn about the importance of your association website in my colleague’s article Association Management Systems and Websites are Becoming One and the Same.
SEO and Web Design are Intertwined
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves writing relevant content, optimizing your website, and creating backlinks. The design of a website includes the appearance, the layout, and the content. All of this has an impact on your SEO ranking, so it is best to have your SEO tactics in consideration throughout your entire web design and redesign process.
User-friendly design is something you will not notice unless it is not there. You generally only notice unfriendly design when you are looking through a website and you cannot tell if certain information is either missing or just hard to find.
Making a website easy to navigate can be a challenge. Maybe you know your content well, but a less familiar set of eyes might have trouble navigating. You also want to avoid having too many menus and sub-menus. Generally, you should ask yourself a few questions when organizing information:
- Who is each page for?
- What do they need/want to know?
- What do we want them to know?
- Is there a call to action?
Responsive design is when the layout and flow of a website changes depending on the visitor’s device and screen size. Responsive design has been around for years and should be included in every new website design. However, you should think about going beyond the default responsive design that simply resizes text and columns.
Most CMS websites allow you to choose what content is shown on each size of screen (e.g., large monitor, laptop, tablet, and mobile device). This allows you to tailor your content for each visitor. For example, you can have a large detailed infographic that is visible on the monitor and laptop versions but switches to a bulleted list when seen on a tablet or mobile device.
This may create more work for you, as you will have to replicate some content, but it can greatly improve the visitor’s experience.
This is a something that can easily be forgotten if you are not the one updating your website regularly. Most website platforms don’t require any coding to make updates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to do.
For instance, we started working with a client that had an aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly, professionally built website. However, making changes was another story. We built their website using a popular content management system (CMS). However, editing it was extremely difficult, and building new pages and content even more so! Something that should have taken 20 minutes to update took upwards of two hours to complete.
A lot of current CMS sites have “live editors” that allows editing directly on the front end of the webpage. This allows changes to be done by nearly anyone in your organization easily and efficiently.
This is another aspect of your website that you should check on as a visitor. Having images that are bigger than necessary or too many heavy, complex plugins can drastically slow your site down.
Make sure you only make images as large as they need to be. For example, if your main banner is 1200px by 500px your background should be the same size. There is no reason to have a 2400px by 1000px image. An image that is double in size has a file size four times larger and will have to load extra information.
Why are You Doing This?
Of course, you know why you began redesigning your website, it’s easy to get sidetrack throughout the long planning process. You must ask yourself what you need and want out of your website and what your current website is and is not providing. If your content is well written and organized and your organization has just had a rebrand, you may only need a refresh instead of an entire redesign.
There are many other aspects of redesigning a website that are important to remember but being cognizant of these points throughout the process will help you focus on creating or redesigning a successful platform.
Continue reading about web design for associations in my previous article Five Things to Think About Before Building Your Association Conference Website.