Are you about to embark on a website redesign for your home improvement business?
If so, I’m glad I caught you first – as it’s the perfect time to be reading this blog!
I know from experience that it’s all very well getting caught up in the excitement of a new web design for your business, and the idea that it’s going to solve all your problems – so I bet the last thing you want to do is create new ones!
Below, I’ve listed what I consider to be the 15 most costly home improvement website redesign pitfalls (in no particular order), so you can know exactly what to avoid.
1. Your website wasn’t the problem in the first place
Like I mentioned above, the idea that a shiny new website should solve all your problems seems to be a common one. For instance, let’s say your old design isn’t generating you enough leads and sales because it isn’t set up to convert them – so what do you do? Scrap it and start again with a better-looking site.
However, in reality, if your new design isn’t properly set up to convert visitors into leads, the chances are, you’ll probably find yourself running into the same old problems again and again. Instead, look at the real source of the problem, change your content accordingly and introduce relevant touch points.
2. You redesigned your website around your new logo
Sadly, this is another common one. Your company gets a new logo, and the most important thing becomes redesigning your website to suit your new branding, instead of your goals. And no – matching your website to complement the new colours in your logo is NOT a goal.
Your goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. Maybe you’d like to increase your number of monthly leads by 50%, or increase your revenue by X amount -and you need to work out how your redesign is going to help you do that.
TIP: SMART goals should be set at the very beginning of a redesign project, before you even begin on the planning and development stages.
3. You didn’t research your buyer personas
When it comes to your website redesign, your customers are everything – which is why your buyer personas are SO important. If you ignore your buyer personas when putting together you’re redesign, you’ll likely be no further forward with regards to what your ideal customers actually want.
The best web designs are customer-centric, and I’ve previously written about how to use buyer personas effectively in customer centric web design – so no excuses!
TIP: You can also check out my customer-centric design checklist.
4. You just tried to emulate your competitors
They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but redesigning your website so it looks as fancy as Joe Bloggs’ will not necessarily make it a success. For instance, Joe Bloggs could be having all sorts of problems behind the scenes, and you need to look at what will actually work for YOU.
There’s a good chance your competitors don’t have it right, either, so if you like some elements of their designs, your best bet is to sit down with your designer and plan it all out, along with your own goals and the best way your new web design will help you reach them.
5. You changed all your URLs
This is a pretty major one, as changing your URLs and page names can result in your traffic seeming like it’s practically dropped off a cliff. You see, what most people don’t realise is that even though a page seems the same and contains the same content, changing its name or URL essentially deletes it from Google.
Google then treats these pages as brand new ones, resulting in any strength they once had being lost, your pages removed from search and the possibility of your new pages not ranking at all. Luckily, here’s how to fix it.
6. You stopped blogging
It’s common knowledge that Google loves websites that are continuously kept fresh and up-to-date, and rewards those websites by placing them above others in order to show the most relevant information to searchers. That’s why blogging helpful, quality content at least 2 – 3 times a week is so important.
You may think that whilst your website is undergoing a redesign, there’s no need to blog, but this is a rookie mistake that could actually harm your traffic. Beware of any agency that tells you blogging must be put on hold for a redesign.
7. You used a staging site search engines could crawl
Another common mistake when undergoing a new website redesign is to use a staging site on a server that is open to crawling search engine bots, and they’ve already found and indexed your new web pages. So, when it’s time for your new redesign to go live on your actual site, it’s seen as duplicate content.
This result will be terrible for your SEO, so ensure there’s absolutely no chance of this happening by checking your designer or agency has adequate knowledge and the correct processes in place.
8. You failed to think about mobile users
According to HubSpot, mobile searches are starting to overtake desktop ones, which means more people than ever before will be searching for your products or services on a mobile phone or tablet. The mobile age is well and truly here.
So, imagine they arrive on your website and discover half of the functions aren’t working properly, they can’t find what they need, or it takes an age to load. This is why a responsive design is so important, and you should ensure your new redesign will take mobile users into account.
9. You put design before content
Think of your website as an elaborate game of Tetris; all the pieces have to slot in nicely together for the best results; otherwise it can get very messy! Your content is by far the most important part of your design, as this is what your visitors need in order to be converted into leads.
So, if you put design first, you might find yourself having to squeeze in your content wherever it allows, despite it not necessarily being the most natural place for it to go. This can harm your conversions and deliver a more awkward experience to users. Always write the content first – design comes later.
TIP: For more information, read my blog post ‘Why Content Should Always Come Before Design’.
10. You didn’t trust/listen to your designer
I’m willing to bet your designer or design agency has been there and done that more times than you can shake a stick at, so ignoring their advice and charging forward with what YOU think’s best is really not advised.
Hiring a designer ideally means you should be able to put your trust in them – that’s probably why you spent a good amount of time choosing the right one for the job in the first place.
Of course, you can question whether or not something seems right to you, and even make suggestions or improvements, but ultimately, let their expertise guide the way. In other words, if they strongly advise against something; listen.
11. There were too many cooks
This is another extension of the point above, and acknowledges the fact that most websites are designed by committee with everyone getting their say of what actually goes into the end result. This can often overpower the expertise of the designer, and greatly dilute the strength of an otherwise great design.
The end result can be a bit of a confused mish-mash of ideas that lead to a poor user experience – and wait, isn’t that exactly who we’re trying to please in the first place – your customers? In order to avoid this, limit the actual redesign team to as few people as possible.
12. You set unrealistic timescales
Maybe you didn’t realise the full extent of the scope and technical requirements of your redesign project, causing you to think your website will be ready much sooner that it actually is. This is usually the reason you end up over-budget and having to re-think the entire redesign halfway through the project.
Ensure you take enough time in the planning stages so your designer or agency knows the full extent of the features, functionality and budget you can afford, so you can come up with a realistic, achievable timescale from the very beginning.
13. You didn’t benchmark current analytics and data
Before any redesign, you should conduct a full audit of your current website and thoroughly analyse your data to understand where it is going wrong, any problems and missed opportunities, along with what you’re actually doing right.
Look at data such as:
- Heatmap indicators
- Monthly page views and visitors
- Traffic sources
- Bounce rates
- Landing page conversions
- Call-to-action click throughs
- Pages with the most traffic
- Inbound links
- Average load time for pages
- Time spent on site/number of pages per session
Use this data to learn and improve upon what you already have when setting up a new design structure. Otherwise, you’re just guessing in the dark, and you could simply create a whole new website with a whole new set of problems!
14. You didn’t thoroughly test before it went live
This can lead to disaster, as there’s nothing worse than launching your redesign only to discover that pages have stopped working, customers can’t find you, and your most important landing page has turned into a broken link!
As long as you do it right, staging sites can be a great way to check your redesign is working properly before it goes live. Just ensure you do a very thorough check to be 100% sure you haven’t missed anything out – HubSpot recommends putting together a checklist which includes:
- Checking for any broken links
- Timing how long pages take to load
- Singling out orphan pages
- Creating 404 redirect pages
- Making sure 301 redirects are working
- Installing Google Analytics/excluding relevant IP addresses
- Testing out your social sharing links
- Validating the CSS/HTML
- Testing that forms are in full working order
- Ensuring information is getting to the right email addresses
Follow all of the above, and you can’t go far wrong! Just remember not to make the mistake in point 7. above.
15. You tried to fix it when it ain’t broke
You know the old saying I’m getting at here. If you’re website was already generating you all the leads and sales you can possibly handle, your search engine visitors are growing in number every month, and business is booming, then you’re in a very, very good position – why do you need a redesign?
In fact, trying to fix something that isn’t broken could do it more damage than good. Perhaps all you need is a little bit of a refresh, to stop your website starting to look stale. You can do this without actually having to do much to your current content and layout.
TIP: The best advice is to always be changing just one thing at a time on your website, in the form of A/B testing. This allows you to get an idea of what works best, so you can always be improving based on real data from your visitors.
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By now, you should have a much better understanding of all the biggest things that could possibly go wrong with your new home improvement website redesign – it’s really quite a lot, isn’t it? At least now you can go into it with your eyes open, and ensure nothing is left to chance.
What do you think of some of the pitfalls mentioned above – easy enough to do, or the mistakes of amateurs? Perhaps you’ve even experienced some of these (or others) in the past – if so, I’d love to hear your input in the comments section!