How To Plan For Your Website Redesign - Step 5: Optimisation and Transition
We have almost come to the end of this series, following the last step which was Step 4: Introducing Call to Actions and KPIs - we are now going to look at optimisation and transition.
At this point of the website redesign process, you have completed most of the core work of the project. You already have your content and goals planned out. With these last 2 steps of the process, it is about polishing off your website and ensuring that it continues to be a help to your business.
This article and step will take a look at the optimisation and transition process of your website redesign.
A big part of the optimisation process is to focus on your homepage. Your homepage is the first part of your website that visitors will see, so you want to make an awesome first impression with it. Your webpage should be simple but also be representative of your brand identity. Knowing that the homepage is so important to a website, a lot of businesses make the big mistake of cramming all of the information possible on the homepage. This can create a lot of clutter on the page, overwhelming the potential customer. It should be optimised so that you inspire visitors to click on other pages to get the information that they are looking for quickly.
Optimise the website with keywords to bring them in and then let them know where they can go on your webpage to find out more information. This declutters the homepage, organises the site, and makes the website simple to use and read. These are all things that will help keep customers on your page longer and increase your conversions.
In a previous article - How To Make Your Website SEO Friendly, I provided lots of information on how to make your website SEO friendly. These tips and tricks should be applied to all of your new web pages before you move to the transition phase. This will ensure that you have the best chance of gaining great SEO rankings.
The next part of this process is the transition phase. This phase will include using 301 redirects, robots.txt, and XML sitemap. The most important part of this process is the 301 redirects. There are often a lot of issues that arise with 301 redirects, which can be avoided with careful planning. It is very important that you make sure that you get all of the old URLs that will need to be redirected to the new website. This ensures that old links are not broken and create an error and ensures any in-bound links are not wasted for SEO.
You can use a simple tool like a spreadsheet to map out the pages on your old website. Take this information and map out these old pages to the most relevant ones on your new website. On simpler websites, this can be a very easy process, but it can get pretty complicated in some situations.
Take the time to ensure that all urls are properly redirected. Ensure that they are 301 redirects instead of other server codes. You can find web-based tools that will help you with this part of the process. Go to Google after you are done and click through all of the links to make sure that you did not miss anything. People can’t visit these pages if the redirects on them were missed.
Once you have finished and captured all the 301's the next step will be to create a new sitemap. This should be created as a XML file and re-uploaded to Google Webmaster Tools. This will ensure that Google is aware of all the new web pages and will begin re-crawling them.
This can be an incredibly important part of the process. If you do this properly, the transition from your old website to your new one can be a seamless one that will limit the downtime your website will have during this process. Time is money, so it can be crucial to get through this process efficiently without too many problems.
If you missed the previous articles take a look at - Step 1: Set Budgets, Timescales, Milestones And Responsibilities, Step 2: Goals, Create a Sitemap, and Plan Your Content, Step 3: Brand, Messages, and Customer Experience or Step 4: Introducing Call to Actions and KPIs.