The website industry moves so fast, that keeping your website aesthetically and technologically fresh is a no-brainer. There are also personal and branding reasons that could force a re-design, but making good design choices with good SEO in mind can be a challenge. Union Street Media Web Developer Evan Briggs comments: “The web is constantly evolving, so it’s important that your website is evolving with it.  When contemplating an redesign, consider the rewards: it establishes your web presence, keeps your brand fresh, and most importantly, your users engaged. “

What Do We Want from Design?

Web users are savvier and search engines have helped drive up improvements, which is their M.O. For website owners, paying attention to how to keep visitors engaged on their site and finding a way to rank well is symbiotic. The design of the site is the first thing a visitor will notice once they click on a link or search result.  Typically visitors will make multiple decisions within 10 seconds of arriving at a website. That’s not very long to make a good impression as the good ‘ole days of ‘Web Surfing’ are an outdated pastime. Union Street Media designer Normandie Hyatt, advises: “Keep in mind that you’re designing your site for your target audience –what sort of imagery, styles will appeal to them?  A well-designed website always has its end user in mind.”

5 Important SEO and General Concerns for a Re-Design:

  • Site architecture and link juice Keep your navigation structure flat i.e. no page more than 3 clicks form the home page. This means the pages can easily found by search engines and humans. Also by internally linking related pages, you build up some cross-linking ‘juice’. Link Juice is the search engine authority that is passed between pages on your site.
  • 301 re-directs If any of your URL structures change, you need to let search engines know where the pages have moved to. A permanent re-direct is the best way to maintain traction of your search engine rankings.
  • Calls to action A big reason for re-designing a site is to use latest design techniques to resolve usability issues. Directing visitors to important content or a contact form is key, and a compelling call-to-action button or image can be the emotional trigger that gets someone to click. Think about the kinds of images and language that will resonate with your audience.
  • Keyword focus Don’t lose sight of what key phrases were working for you as you don’t want to completely drop the ball here. Sure, you will tighten up your existing content and a new design might change where content is placed. Above all, make sure your top keywords are still above the fold and are relevant to your product or service, and target phrases that provided you with traffic from search engines previously.
  • Subscriber lists If you have a large customer base, consider how you are going to migrate over these customers. You might want to do some email marketing, post on your blog, import subscribers to a new content management system or do some offline advertising. People take a little time to adjust to changes, so at least provide a heads up and also use the opportunity to explain new features or content.
  • Conversion Tools No re-design should happen without improving your lead generation capabilities. Take advantage of a designer’s chops to make forms engaging and easy to use. Good design can instill trust, and no one will share their details without feeling like you are trustworthy.

Keep It Simple

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Image by mansikka via Flickr

Good looks help, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Most people will decide to stay based on their ability to find the information they want to complete a goal. What good design is able to do, is bridge the gap between the visitor’s goals and yours, so enforce the right expectations with visual cues. As a result, site structure and how information is hung on the bones becomes the responsibility of the designer. Normandie again: “Take some time looking around at websites in your industry. Which are appealing to you and why? Think about how graphics and imagery are used. Where does your eye go first on the page? Are there lines of text that “grab” you? Your website is an opportunity to further extend your brand. Ideally, its look should tie in with your logo and print marketing materials.”

Tell me what you think by leaving a comment below or Tweeting me @unionstmedia