Website Redesign Tips: How To Without Losing SEO & Conversion Rate

It is true that you cannot have the same website design for ever. Once in a blue moon, you will feel the need to update your website. At times, it could be plainly for aesthetics reasons. And at times for more practical reasons like increasing conversion rate and to decrease bounce rate.

Though the latter is a more valid reason for redesigning a website, but hey looks matter too. You often hear people say, it is what is inside that matters. Though that is indeed true, but some people may point out, only ugly people say that. Not that I agree with them!

However, for whatever reason you choose to redesign your website, you need to make sure that your website metrics like SEO, conversion rate should not go down.

But seriously, reasons do matter. What is prompting you to go ahead with a redesign? Ask the following questions?

  1. Why should I redesign my website?
  2. What is my budget for the redesign?
  3. How much would the redesign cost?
  4. Is the site already doing good?
  5. If yes, then would the redesign hurt my site?
  6. Would I lose business?
  7. How long would it take to recover in such a case?
  8. Can I do without a redesign?

Once you have answered the questions above, you will be in a position to know whether you want to go ahead with this or not.

Often a website redesign seems like an exciting idea at first. While it is true that it is almost always thrilling to create something new. But we often oversee the amount of time, energy and money that you will need to put in to create something worthwhile.

I am aware that the actual design would be taken care of by a web design agency itself. But be informed that you yourself will need to put a significant amount of time into the redesign process.

The two major categories you can put your website redesign are Complete Redesign & Progressive Redesign. Let’s look into both.

Complete Redesign

This approach is destructive in nature. More precisely you do away with the old site completely and create a totally new site. Though I don’t think it is the right way to redesign a site, for the time being, let’s look at the processes it involves.

Website Design Process

A total redesign means you are changing the site completely. Most redesigns today are done this way. This could also involve a complete change of the copy on the website. The process would usually involve the following steps:

  1. Planning & Research:

    It is the phase where you plan out everything on paper. The agency you are going to hire. Delegate responsibilities for the various tasks involved in the successful completion of the project.

    The design team would evaluate the pages that are performing well and the ones that are not doing so good by going through the site Analytics. Determine what needs to be changed to make the site perform better.

    The creative brief should also be in place by this time.

  2. Wireframes:

    Based on the planning & research, a wireframe is drawn up. A wireframe is basically a skeletal framework of the elements that would constitute the website.

    It is the placement of elements drawn roughly on a paper. It is usually devoid of any design elements or colors. Decision on where each element would go should be driven entirely by the positive impact it would have on the site.

    A good idea would be to follow good user interface design principles to provide a better user experience for the visitor while they are on your site. This should help in decreasing bounce rate and to increase conversion rates for your redesigned site.

  3. Mockups:

    This step involves designing mockups for the different sections of the website. The different sections could be the homepage, blog page, popups, forms, content pages etc. The design team could discuss the mockups and then make changes to them accordingly.

    Mockups are usually designs, and they have not yet been coded into web pages. Making changes to them is quick and simple.

    The final mockups then would be used to design the website. The next step would, therefore, naturally be, Design & Development.

  4. Design & Development:

    This step basically involves writing code to turn the designs into web pages. Development here would mean writing code to achieve some functionality. So once this step is done the website is technically ready to be deployed. But not before it has been tested.

  5. Testing:

    Before making the site live, it is important to test the site to make sure that the site is working as intended. That all links are working & are functional. The forms are working etc.
    If the site has extended functionality, like as in an e-commerce site, then testing would be more rigorous. And usually, would take more time than a regular site.

    This roughly sums up the process involved in the redesign process of a website. But no two websites are the same, and the steps involved could be more or less. The simpler it is, the better though. But the best process is, of course, the one that brings in the best results.

    The above steps would only achieve the completion of the redesigned website. But there are additional steps & precautions you must take to make sure that you do not lose your SEO ranking and mess up your site.
    I wrote an article on my other site here that explains these steps here.

Flaws With the Complete Redesign Approach

This approach assumes too much and there is too much reliance on gut feeling. There are way too many changes involved in this design process to be able to able to predict the outcome of each precisely.
In fact, with a complete redesign, it is quite imminent to your rankings would suffer initially. If all decisions were taken correctly, then results should start to improve after a while.

But most often than not, gut feeling could land you in trouble. Instead of increasing conversions, they could drop significantly. In such a case, you will not only lose business but add to the loss the expenses incurred in the redesign process!! And of course, the time and energy wasted.

Progressive Redesign

This is also redesigning the website but in a more progressive and controlled way. This redesign process does not involve changing the entire website all at ones. But making a few changes one at a time.

And you measure the impact of each change one at a time. It gives you time to understand the impact of the change you have made. You can study and analyze it.

Easy to Measure Impact

Once you have made a change wait for about a week or two to see the impact it has on search results, conversion and bounce rate. You don’t need any expensive tool to do all this! This can be easily tracked using Webmaster Console and Google Analytics.

If you see negative results, then you can be sure that there has been a mistake. This step can be retracted and restored to its original state before you again make an attempt to change it if required.

In the contrary, if you see positive results, you know the change has been in the right direction. And you can keep it.

The draw back with a complete redesign is that the changes that are made are too many to keep track of. When things go wrong, it is very difficult to pin point exactly what is the cause of it all. To remedy the situation becomes very difficult and time-consuming in such a case.

Less Time, Energy & Money Invovled

You need to devote a lot less time with the Progressive approach. The changes you want to make can be quickly made, implemented and tested. Unlike the Complete redesign approach where you must wait till the entire website has been worked upon. When making so many changes, it is bound to take longer.

The Complete redesign approach involves too many processes and resources and therefore requires more time, energy and money. In fact, complete redesigns can be very risky for companies and organizations. As it does not let you measure and impact of each of the changes you have made.

Conclusion

Though it can be necessary sometimes to go for a complete redesign of a website. But if possible, it is better to avoid it. It saves you a lot of money, time and energy and mitigates a lot of risks involved with such type of approach.

It is way better to make changes one step at a time in a progressive way. Measure its impact on the overall site metrics. Any change you make should reflect in a week or two. Take this time to gauge the impact this change has made. Once you are happy that it has made your site better, you can safely keep it knowing that your site is better than before.

You can then consider making additional changes one at a time to your website, that would impact your website in a positive way. This can be a better way to redesign your website.

What do you think? Do let me know in the comments below.

About Amrit Ray

Amrit Ray is the founder of Ray Creations, a web design company based in India. He takes care of marketing and online business promotion & branding. He is also a singer/songwriter. See his music videos here. He tries his best balancing both his passions giving adequate time to both. He has big plans for the future. Follow him on Google + | Facebook | Twitter.