10 Tips for Rebuilding Your Website

By: Geno Tokarz, Senior Interactive Art Director, Corporate Marketing, Valassis
Published Monday, Apr 3, 2017

10 Tips for Rebuilding Your Website

Websites seem to have the same shelf life as dairy products. To maintain your organic search traffic, content needs to constantly change. You need to provide an optimal user experience for the ever-changing devices visitors are using to browse your site. With millions of sites to choose from, the time you have to engage a visitor is decreasing. The type of user experience your visitor prefers is changing. The backbones of your sites, the content management systems, are constantly evolving to accommodate CRM, analytics, marketing automation, site contributors and security changes. At some point, you may decide that it is better to implement a major rebuild than to continue tweaking what you have.

Here are some tips as you move forward:

1. Define your primary audience

A single site can have clients, consumers, investors, media and job seekers all visiting for different reasons. But, if your website is built for everyone, it is relevant to no one. Determining your primary audience will help focus site architecture and decision-making in the planning stage.

2. Competitive site analysis

There is a good chance that the primary audience you choose is visiting your competitor’s sites. You should too! Review the navigation, content, design and architecture. Plan a site that offers a better user experience than your competitor’s. This is a competition to acquire and retain site traffic; build with that in mind.

3. SEO keyword analysis

Your company sells widgets. But instead of the keyword “widget” being on your website, you use your company’s product name “X500 Deluxe Solution.” This internally focused perspective can negatively impact your organic search traffic. Your potential customers will use very specific keywords in their search queries. Make sure your product pages are using the keywords that best align with the product offerings clients are searching for.

4. Provide the right information

The main reason most people visit your website is to get information. If you can, talk to a client about the type of information that will make their job easier. Within your company, talk to people in leadership, strategy and operations ­ each may have a different perspective on client needs your site content should address.

5. Responsive design

It was not too long ago that web developers had to build multiple sites for different digital devices. Maintaining multiple sites was cumbersome,  to say the least. A single code that could properly render a webpage on any digital device was a dream. I’m glad to say that dream code is now available. The responsive platform is based on a grid system with a set number of columns. While six columns of content may be visible on a desktop monitor, only four columns can be viewed on a device with a smaller screen. Screen resolution now determines the width, and the page height is automatically adjusted to accommodate the content.

6. Modern user experience

Ten seconds may be all the time you have to make a good impression on your website visitor. Be visual, impactful, engaging and concise with your content. Visitors want to quickly scan content, then choose to learn more about the topics that interest them. Build pages with this viewing preference in mind. Videos and infographics are another way for visitors to easily consume data -- use them liberally throughout the site.

7. Compatible with other software

You want your new web content management system to work with your analytics program, a live chat program and a video streaming server. You then need to layer in your marketing automation and some phone tracking that should talk to your customer relations management system. Your vendors will tell you that all these systems are compatible, but that is seldom the case. Anticipate time and resources required to get everything working together.

8. Browser compatibility

Desktop, tablet, smart phone, Android, iPhone, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari can make for expansive browser compatibility tests. Unfortunately, a tag or style that renders properly in one browser may be incorrect in another. Get page templates built and tested early. It’s best to find compatibility errors before they are repeated across multiple pages.

9. Soft launch

Unless you have a very small site, a soft launch may be a good idea. Even with the most diligent content review, there will inevitably be an error somewhere on the site. Soft launch the site and allow your employees to review it for a few days. It’s always good to have an extra review before your clients see the site.

10. Launch

Congratulations on reaching this point! Promote your new site the best you can. Use press releases to get the word out in your industry. Email your existing clients and point out the information and resources you feel will be valuable to them.

Don’t view the launch as the end of the journey, but the beginning of the next stage. Your new site is just the vehicle to showcase great content.

Like a dairy product, the content you created weeks ago is already getting old. Plan a content calendar for the coming year that will provide a roadmap for refreshing the site and will help it get noticed by clients and search engines.