Looking to overhaul your website? Or maybe you’re in the process of rebranding your goods and services?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning the next version of your site.
Give yourself plenty of time to plan and execute
A large website overhaul can take months (especially if there’s a lot to consider and tons of existing content). Give yourself plenty of time – and focus first on the site architecture and user experience, not design. I know it’s tempting to get to the pretty stuff, but the more you focus on what your site NEEDS to do rather than what it looks like, the easier it will be to design an effective (and profitable) site.
Questions to ask when planning the update:
- What must your site have (and do) for you to consider it a success?
- What are your goals with the new site?
- Are you trying to attract a new audience?
- What new services and products will you be offering?
- What’s working well on the current site – and what’s not?
- What is your audience asking (and looking for) that they’re not currently finding?
- What is the current user flow? Can this be improved?
- What current tech support issues can be fixed with the update?
- What content needs to be updated or removed?
Plan for some downtime – and time for testing
If you’re update your site or moving an existing site or membership portal, make sure to plan for the site to be inaccessible for a short time. You will also need to notify any current students that the portal will be unavailable during the upgrades. Err on the side of more time rather than less – and give anyone who needs access plenty of time to plan their schedule around the changes.
You also need to allot plenty of time for testing. Moving sites (and re-launching complex membership portals) can unearth tech issues that you just won’t know about until you get thousands of unique devices testing it.
What to do if you’re changing from an established domain name to a new URL
You might need to move your site from one url to another due to a branding and/or name change. If the old domain was well-established you want to make sure you don’t lose any SEO juice (nor make all of the thousands of inbound links no longer work!)
Steps to take if you’re moving from one domain name to another:
- Migrate your content to the new site (This is also a perfect time to add SSL to your site! More on that in this post)
- Verify you own your old AND new sites in Google Search Console
- Make sure to update your google analytics account with the new info
- Use 301 redirects to redirect the old URLS to the new location
- Submit a change of address in google search console
- Make sure to update as many external links as possible (like your social media links or sites that might have the old link)
Find more in-depth info on how to move a site with URL changes here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6033049
Use pro tools to do a site audit
When revamping your site, it’s super smart to perform a technical and SEO site audit to check your website health, find out what’s wrong (and get suggestions on how to fix it). I’m a huge fan using SEMRUSH to review and analyze the back-end of your site.
Discover and sort through all the technical issues that could be limiting your site’s effectiveness and search engine optimization. Get how-to-fix suggestions for over 130+ different checkpoints including site loading speed, crawlability, backlinks, content and meta tag issues and internal linking. Get regular automated reports so you can stay on top of site changes. I also love SEMRUSH for competitor analysis and keyword research – their search tools are incredible and inspire wide variety of content ideas to make your site more searchable.
Plan for the future
My favorite saying is that websites are never really done.
Make sure to plan regular check-ins for site maintenance and updates.
Make note of any features you want to include or modify for future upgrades.
Looking for a complete checklist of what to review on your site? Check out my Minima Guide to Launching Your Site.