Your website is the greatest asset to your business. It's not just where people purchase your services or discover your brand, it's where people research answers, make informed decisions and where you have the opportunity to outperform even the most notorious competitor. In fact, 60% of the sales process happens on your website researching, reading and following the buyer's journey that you've systematically set in place. You can flood magazines with print ads, cold call hundreds more households, and sell the greatest product the market has ever seen, but if you don't have an up-to-date website, your competition will always outperform you.
And if you're thinking, "my website is incredible, I spent a fortune on it back in 2015 and it's still generating leads," then you're thinking about your online presence all wrong. Your website is a living marketing and sales tool. If the internet is growing and changing (which is most certainly is), then so should your website. If someone is searching for a solution online and Google hasn't deemed your website an SEO stand-out, then less expensive websites are still going to outcompete you. For every slot you move down in Google's ranking, your chance of being clicked on falls to an abysmal low, and if you're on the second page you have no chance.
Refreshing your website is one of the best investments you can make for your business. It's an opportunity to freshen up your design, fix leaky buyer paths, update with better technology, optimize your user experience (ux) and spike your SEO ranking. But traditional website redesign is exhausting and can be an enormous expenditure (up to $40,000). It often involves the grueling process of receiving several bids, deciding on the right company, waiting and wondering with little communication during months of planning, a massive up front cost, 3-6 months of building the site, delayed deliverables, a website built completely on assumptions, an expanded budget scope and ultimately a website that, when launched, is already behind and left alone for several years until the whole miserable process has to be redone.
This is not how a website redesign should work. So how do you reconcile the labor and budgetary commitment of a website redesign and the need for a user friendly, educational, optimized website to improve your lead generation and sales rate of close?
Your answer is a rapid launch in 60 days focusing on data-backed improvements over time. It's a strategy that we believe redefines website design and one that we use with our website and with our clients. It's called Growth Driven Design, and it centers around a 2-3 month build period, saving your budget for optimization, and validating decisions early on so that you know the adjustments you're making to your site are improving UX and ultimately your bottom line.
Here's Your 60 Day Launch Schedule For A Better Website
Day 1-10: Analyze your current site
No great change has come from leaping to assumptions or implementing things based on personal preference. No, it takes aggregating data and making informed decisions based on patterns.
Before jumping into design ideas, you need to run tools, conduct user interviews, surveys and connect with real people through chatbots and user testing to collect real data on what is working on your site and what isn't. A simple rule of thumb is that in the first 10 seconds on your site, a visitor should know your company's name, the service it provides, where to find pricing info and if your site is trustworthy. But beyond that, they should have a seamless experience navigating your buyer's journey.
By using optimization tools (we go over a dozen of them in our piece of optimizing your company's technology stack, you can find it here) you can discover how users are interacting with your site. You'll find leaky conversion paths, underperforming content, broken links, and confusing design choices. This will inform you on just how severe this website redesign needs to be.
For the sake of SEO and website performance, see where your website scores for particular keywords. Use add ons like Keywords Everywhere to discover where you rank for search queries relevant to solving the problems that your customers are looking for. This way you'll also get great insights into how your competitors are strategically playing with keywords, find their underdeveloped areas and generate content ideas to boost your ranking.
Day 10-20: Strategize
Your goal is to get in your buyer persona's head. You're trying to develop an empathetic understanding of your audience's world and how your website should solve their problems. What are they looking for? What would amaze them?
To begin, start putting together a series of customer journey maps. This can be your overall customer journey, or pieces of them that catch your buyer personas at different stages in their decision making process. Put yourself in her shoes and walk through the website as if you were visiting it for the first time. You should uncover questions that they may have throughout each stage of their interaction with your content. Are they lacking some crucial piece of knowledge? Did you jump too far ahead and make assumptions? These will inform your choices moving forward.
At this point you'll have a general idea of you core and pillar pages. These are the essential 4 to 8 pages that summarize your customer's journey and deliver the most important content to your visitor. This will usually include home page, pricing, services, contact and the about us page. These pages will be your guiding pillars for your launchpad site, the foundation on which you will continuously grow.
It's important to note here that not everything you want to change about your site should be included in the launchpad strategy. You need to segment your redesign into three categories: needs, the things that must absolutely be changed before launch; wants, the changes that would be nice to see for the launch but aren't going to stop you from launching on time; wishes, the things that you want to change but aren't essential and should wait until post-launch during the optimization phase.
Day 20-30: Rapid Prototyping
Using your data and your decided pillar pages, quickly build wireframes that outline the flow of each page through the funnel. Along with the wireframes, you'll need to start creating your new content. The goal of your website is to tell the story of how you solve specific problems and help customers find the right answers, so you'll need to craft the right message that fits the basic design of your new wireframe.
Communicate early and often to get everyone on the same page. Schedule copywriting deadlines and milestones so that you have a chance to review content before turning it over to your developer. The design is meant to complement the content, not the other way around. If you're not communicating well and your deadlines aren't placed systematically, you will fall behind the 60 day launch.
Day 30-40: Design Sprint
Once the prototype is in place, it's time to get into the design. With your developer (whether in-house or hired out) start designing your launchpad pages with UX and SEO in mind.
The benefit of rapid prototyping and design sprinting is that design speed increases 2-3x, design costs are reduced up to 50% and iterations and improvements are scheduled and accounted for. Compared to traditional website redesign processes, this is one of the biggest money savers, and in the end, a money maker.
Day 40-50: Feedback and Code
As the designer is winding down, start testing the website. Does the design match the brand? Are there any glaring UX problems? Does any imagery to be adjusted? Are there any elements that are distracting?
As you and your team start creating a list of succinct changes for your developer it's important to keep in mind that these changes are not about your personal preference and they most certainly shouldn't be suggestions. If you want to stay on schedule and maintain a decent relationship with a designer that is working at maximum capacity, don't ask to see an image in a different color. You can test that later. Save it.
Day 50-60: Pre-Launch Final Sprint
While the designer is working on those final changes, allow your team to jump aboard. Get your developers coding. Get into the nitty gritty with COS, connecting links, inputting meta data, QA testing, speed testing, etc. At this stage you're 43 days in and you should be close to launch ready.
Day 60-70: Launch and Optimize
Hit that big red launch button it's time to go public. With your heatmap and other UX data collectors in place, it's time to sit back and watch how new visitors interact with your site. Send your contacts an email asking them to view your new site and offer their input. And while your launchpad site goes live, make sure that you're still connected to the pages from your old site that have yet to be optimized. As you see traffic to those pages increase or decrease you'll know what the next pillars are for your next iteration of growth driven design.
Start A/B testing different elements like content placement, graphic colors, videos, etc. and continue to make improvements to your core pages. During this process you should start pulling items from your want and wish list to start developing and testing on your site. The benefit of this redesign process is that it never stops improving your site. Where traditional web design sets up your site and leaves it for another expensive reboot in 3 years, this optimization focused redesign alllows you to continue to improve on a consistent schedule so that as the internet evolves, your site grows with it.
So once you've launched and had time to breathe, start collecting that data and do it all over again with new pages, fresh intel and the inspiration brewing from your improved conversions, traffic and customer satisfaction. You can read more about our growth driven design website process here, or go ahead and start your 60 day launch and get our launchpad timeline below.