Everything You Need to Know About a Website Redesign as a Business Owner0
- 6 June 15:36
A website redesign can be quite a costly undertaking, especially if you’re not yet sure what you want to have, and what the final result should look like. And, unfortunately, quite often a redesign is made intuitively, without thinking about the ROI, or how exactly you can reach it.
As any other investment, redesigning your site should me a meaningful decision, with a complete understanding of both the expenses and expected incomes. As a business owner, you should control the process, not personally work on it. At the same time, you need to clearly understand what’s happening, and whether everything is progressing as it should. After all, it’s about your money.
In this article, we’ll talk about the following:
- What are valid reasons to redesign your e-commerce website?
- What exactly do you need: a quick structure update, or a full redesign and CMS migration?
- Should you hire an agency, or is your in-house team enough?
- How do you go about choosing a contractor?
After reading through the article, adjust your assumptions based on the size of your business and your budget. Large, medium, and small e-commerce websites may require similar changes, but the costs to implement them varies depending on the technologies used and the level of specialists who will be working on them. The redesign may cost anywhere from $5,000 for a small business to $100,000 for an enterprise.
What Is a Redesign and What Isn’t
A website redesign is more than just giving your site a new look. It comprises a lot of different things, and may include various stages. Some websites need quick improvements, while others require a complete overhaul. So, here are some of the possible scenarios.
Bug Fixing and Improvements
Every e-commerce website, no matter how thought out, has specific problems and bugs. In this case, you have to correct them, but that’s not a redesign yet. Besides, there might be some functionality improvements that’ll positively influence your customers’ experience. So, you’ll have to add new features or refine the functionality of existing ones. A good tip is to note your ideas about website improvements as they come, and use these notes for future changes.
Creating From Scratch
If you don’t have any ongoing project, you’ll have to create one from scratch — set it up, design, test, and launch. This is also not a redesign, as you are basically creating a new thing, not improving on an existing one.
Redesigning is when there is a project that needs to be reworked. There is a partial redesign that affects only certain modules: a set of cosmetic changes that includes, for example, menu improvements or shopping cart updates. Then there is the full redesign, which means restarting the whole project. It enhances the functionality of a website, may involve UX/UI changes or a migration to a new CMS. The type of redesign you need depends on your goals, KPIs, business strategy and budget.
Reasons For a Redesign
If you think that your e-commerce website needs a redesign, it probably does. Yet, it may be confusing to find out what the real reasons for the update are. If you are wondering whether it’s time to implement some changes, check with our guide below.
Your Website is Not User-Friendly
Potential customers may visit your website once, but if it’s slow and outdated, they won’t return. In fact, many users decide on your business credibility based solely on the design of your website. So, check if it’s user-friendly: can your visitors tell right away what your website is about? In case there is a big number of unnecessary features and pop-ups, they may easily get lost. On the other hand, website designers tend to promote more features in order to include them in their project portfolio. So, don’t let them mislead you and remember that your e-commerce website should be extremely easy and intuitive to navigate unless you want users to leave immediately after opening a page.
There are Problems With the Engine
If you can’t easily update your product line or implement even the smallest changes — your website needs a redesign. In fact, the site’s functionality influences your website traffic and lead generation. Older sites that run on outdated platforms lower the ROI and other project KPIs. Therefore, it’s harder to convert leads into customers and to retain existing clients. Actually, poorly optimized websites have a higher bounce rate as users find it hard to make a purchase. Besides, such websites don’t communicate the company’s values and don’t appear credible.
So, When Is it Time to Redesign?
Besides the reasons mentioned above, there are certain “red flags”, or indicators, that clearly show when it’s time to redesign. First of all, check out your competitors’ websites. If their functionality, design, and SEO meet your goals better than your website does — it’s probably the right time to get some updates. Look around for new ideas and solutions and get inspired by the best examples on the market. Alternatively, you may apply for several basic UX/UI audits from different digital agencies, and get a bunch of comprehensive reports. Such audits are generally free of charge or cost a small amount of money, but they’ll give you a valuable overview of the main UX/UI weak points, and offer ways to deal with them.
Where to Start? A Step-By-Step Guide For Redesigning Your Site
Now, if you decide your e-commerce website needs a redesign, here’s our detailed instruction on how to do it step-by-step:
1. Understand Your Goals
First of all, you have to have a clear idea of what functionality is missing and what you want to add. Does your website have any specific problems? For instance, it may not be optimized for mobile devices, or is invisible for search engines. Identify the key weak points and set a final goal — what is the perfect website you want to have as a final product? Then think of the methods that can help — it might be that the code needs improvement or the content requires a serious update. Find out what the big and small issues that your website has are, and move to the audit phase.
2. Analyze the Current Situation
Conduct a website audit. This will prepare your site for the redesign and save you time on guessing what’s wrong. The most common audit stages include content quality, ease of managing, the overall design and usability, and SEO performance.
3. Write Terms of Reference
Writing down terms of reference for a website redesign is essential. It helps to organize the timeline of a project, to identify key tasks for developers and designers, and to set up the workflow. For that, you need to include as many details as possible: describe what the stages are, and add explicit references to websites that you like. You may even invite a marketing specialist or a developer to help you with that. All in all, you have to make sure that everyone on the team understands what is expected of them.
4. Create a Website Prototype
An e-commerce website prototype is basically a black and white site design captured on paper. It should be fully understandable to both technical and non-technical people, and contain the desired website features and the visualized user flow. A prototype helps you see what the final website design is going to look like. After you create one, translate it into technical terms for the development team.
5. Start the Development Phase
Now it’s time to develop your new website features. Once you approve the prototype, continue with the design: shape the features and content. After that, start the programming work. Use technologies that align with your goals, upgrade the necessary framework elements, and develop new interactivity if needed.
6. Test and Evaluate Changes
Testing is the most routine, yet important part of an e-commerce website redesign. Upload your site onto a test server and run it in test mode. Put it through stringent bug searching, and bring in QA specialists. All possible problems should be fixed before launching the new features on your main website. After that, you can add them to your regular server, and run a final test to be sure all your changes have been uploaded correctly.
How to Choose a Credible Contractor
Choosing a contractor for your e-commerce website redesign is incredibly important. They will be responsible for developing and designing new features and functionality that will form the customers’ impression of your business. Your website might be pretty, but not user-friendly or it may have a really simple design but it doesn’t bring you any profit. A credible contractor increases your e-commerce website ROI, so choose wisely.
1. Don’t Rely Solely on a Contractor’s Portfolio
Indeed, a portfolio is a great measure of a contractor’s worth, but don’t rely solely on it. In fact, a portfolio represents how well a contractor can fulfill someone else’s tasks. It presents a contractor’s abilities, but may also mislead you when making a final decision. Rather than crossing out a potential contractor because of their portfolio, discuss your ideas with them and see what they have to offer.
2. Consider Your First Meeting
Consider your impression after the first meeting with a potential contractor when you’ve either talked online or shared ideas in person. Answer the following questions for yourself: did a contractor study your company in advance? Do they have an understanding of the market and your competitors? Did they show you any options to improve your website’s functionality? Are they open to constructive feedback and following directions? If most of your answers are positive, it might be a credible contractor to work with.
3. Study a Proposal for the Real Numbers
Basically, the more detailed numbers you’ll get from a potential contractor — the better overview you’ll have of the project scope. How are they going to record their work time? What’s the budget for each specific task? This information will give you an insight into the estimated payment timeline and workflow framework.
4. Use an Audit Instead of a Test Task
The true way to know whether its worth working with a contractor is to simply ask them for an audit. Basically, you’ll get a full analysis of your website functionality, visibility, and other technical issues, and form a first impression of the contractor’s quality of work at the same time. So, instead of giving a test task, use an audit as a way to learn more about what to expect from a potential contractor.
There are various approaches to conducting an audit, but mostly it includes analyzing the main website parts: pages, functions, SEO, etc. It may involve programmers, SEO specialists, marketers, UX/UI designers, and even copywriters. Negotiate all the important details regarding the audit: what parts of a website need to be examined? What are the parameters they’ll use? Are there any specific nuances? What should you expect at the end? Listen to what a contractor has to say, and form your conclusions.
Also, if you are negotiating with an agency, keep track of who you’re talking to: a sales manager or a technical specialist. Make sure you are communicating with the right person. Once you agree on specific audit terms, wait for the results. Odds are, after a contractor studies your e-commerce website, they’ll form the very first hypothesis — what’s wrong and how to fix it. Mind the fact that the audit includes specific proposals, while a simple analysis only identifies the problems. Consider if you get concrete proposals and problem solutions or vague promises to make everything work better.
Decide on the Type of a Contractor
It may be hard to decide who to go with for your redesign project. There are many benefits in hiring a freelancer, an agency or working with your own in-house team. So, what’s the solution? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
The first option is to hire in-house specialists. Such a team would be fully involved in the process, they’ll have faster communication and a better understanding of your company’s goals and principles. On the other hand, it may be more expensive to run a full redesign project with a limited number of workers that have specific areas of expertise. Generally, you’ll need well-rounded specialists with a wide range of capabilities. So, it may be challenging to hire all those people with enough expertise. On top of that, calculating the total cost of an in-house redesign is tricky: are you providing insurance for the team? Are they salaried staff or independent contractors? Are you keeping the team from working on other projects that could be bringing you money? This approach needs a detailed cost-benefit analysis to be done by your finances department.
Freelancers’ work may cost less, and their rates are usually flexible. Yet, it is risky to hire them for big projects and here is why: expect sudden increases in costs from their side, quality issues and missing deadlines. Freelancers are generally less interested in the final result and harder to manage. Freelancer rates vary as wildly as freelancer competence levels.
An agency usually juggles multiple resources, tools, and specialists. It means that you’ll get a full range of services all in one place. Also, agencies rely on their reputation, so it is easier to keep them accountable. If you are lucky enough to find a credible agency — expect versatility and professionalism from them. Good agencies are aimed at bringing the best results to their clients, and may even cooperate with your own specialists for better effect. At the same time, an agency will be the most expensive route for you to take, with costs running up to $15,000 for a medium-sized company, or up to $100,000 for an enterprise-level redesign.
Finding the right balance between cost and value may be hard. Yet, there are certain tips and tricks to evaluate if a contractor’s proposal is worth spending money on. First of all, the work cost should be based on a clear calculation of what should be done. Only unreliable contractors ask about your budget on a first meeting — credible ones study your case and set a price from that.
Then, consider the contractor’s concept and motivation — are they focused on real results? Will they promote your business objectives? And finally, do they have the long-term perspective in mind and aim to work with you in the future? Strong hires equal strong business, so make a grounded decision here.
How to Measure Results
To measure the results your redesign has delivered, conduct an audit by different agencies, and compare the outcomes. The organic traffic would represent SEO improvements, while page load times would track the developers’ efforts. Changes in the bounce rate and conversions would also tell how well the redesign was done.
Also, use focus groups formed from your target audience, and evaluate their user experience. Do they like the changes? Are they happier with the new version of your e-commerce website than with the previous one? Use their thoughts as valuable indicators of a redesign success. Finally, run a test ad to see if the updates bring profit. Promote the new features and check if they attract new customers. After the test launch, you can fully evaluate the website business performance.
TOP Mistakes in Redesigning and How to Avoid Them
There are a few common redesign mistakes that can have a negative influence on your project. Luckily, there are also ways to avoid them. In order to make sure your redesign process is going well, read the TOP mistakes in redesign below:
1. A Test Task Instead of an Audit
As we’ve previously mentioned, there is a better way to evaluate a contractor’s quality of work than a test task — an audit. Use it to get a more comprehensive review of what a contractor can offer.
2. Checking Only the Final Results
Instead of waiting for a final result, ask a contractor to present you with the intermediate changes. This will allow you to fix bugs at the early stages of development, and control updates as they appear.
3. Underestimating The Real Numbers
When you’re setting up tasks for a redesign, it’s crucial to base them on real numbers and performance indicators. Similarly, the final results should be evaluated on the clear data of how certain parts of website work: SEO indicators, profit, traffic, etc.
4. Adding New Ideas On The Go
Once you’ve negotiated the project roadmap, don’t add new ideas or any changes to it. Scope creep is a monster that will only lengthen the project timeline and add to the budget. Wait for the intermediate results to see how it all turns out, and then decide if you still want to add something to the project or not.
5. Letting Your Relatives and Friends into the Project
This is a common mistake and one of the most devastating ones. For as much as we love the people closest to us, we should keep them away from evaluating the redesign perspectives. So, base the hypotheses you have only on real figures, indicators, test results and on the target audience’s experience.
In this article, we’ve talked about what is an e-commerce website redesign and how to tackle it. It may be challenging to know if your website really needs an update and whether it should be only minor changes or a full-fledged redesign. As a business owner, you are faced with multiple dilemmas. So, how can you find out if your website needs a redesign?
First of all, it may not be user-friendly or have some problems with the engine. Besides, you can find a bunch of contractors (either freelancers or an agency or in-house specialists) and trust them with your website audit. This way you’ll have a clear overview of the weak points your site may have. Study their proposals and choose the one who offers you real solutions and provides you with real numbers.
Remember, that a redesign is not about bug fixing, and not about creating a website from scratch — it is a comprehensive process that includes multiple stages.
You should understand the goals for your redesign, evaluate the current situation, write terms of reference to set up the workflow and the timeline of the project, and then start prototyping. After you finish a first black-and-white version of a future website, continue with the design and development stages.
As soon as you’ve got results — test and evaluate them. What are the best ways to do it? Study the real figures of website performance (KPIs, organic traffic, bounce rate, etc) and invite focus-groups to learn about their user experience. Generally, try to avoid inviting your relatives or loved ones to estimate changes, as they may not give you clear feedback. Instead, trust the real numbers and increased revenue.
All in all, an e-commerce website redesign, if done well, can bring lots of positive results. Now that you know when it’s the right time to transform your website into a more meaningful and user-friendly experience for your visitors. You also know how to do it in the best way, so now it should come easy to you
Previously, we wrote that “If consumers do not see anything unique in your brand, you have consumer goods” span>
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