It’s still all too common when developing a new website, to get carried away with the excitement of the shiny new possibilities and to ignore all the things you’ve learnt with your existing site. The result can be that you set the new website live whilst frantically crossing your fingers that the conversion rate won’t drop. In order to help you avoid N.W.S.D (“New Website Stress Disorder”) we’ve come up with a handy checklist
Stick to your primary objective: At the very beginning you should define the scope of the project and make sure that your main stakeholders understand what you’re trying to achieve. Identify one key objective that takes priority over all others (e.g. improve the checkout funnel, streamline content, improve mobile effectiveness etc.) and use this as the reference point for all your project decisions. Don’t get distracted.
Agree how you will measure success: Once you’ve identified the key objective, you need to be clear on how you’re going to check that this has been achieved! Hopefully this will be quantifiable using data (the best way to keep your Finance Director happy), so you need to plan how you are going to use data to show this success. Be clear on what you are measuring and be confident that you can compare it before and after.
Review your Google Analytics set-up early: You can only be confident in the data if you already have reliable Analytics data available on your existing website. Don’t leave the Analytics migration until the website migration itself; take the time to review what you already have in place, refine it and plan for the new website as soon as you can. You need to take control of the Analytics migration, it’s more than just transferring a set of tags!
Test your existing site: You should continually seek to refine your website to help you reduce the leap of faith from old to new versions. Make sure you take advantage of A/B testing tools to test the content and layout of key pages. In this way you can be much more confident that your new website will be more effective. In some cases you may even want to test the impact of your new home page before the entire site goes live. [And make sure you keep testing after the new site goes live too!].
Don’t forget to get user feedback: Analysing data can only tell you what is happening on your website, it doesn't tell you why. You need feedback from real users to gain this understanding and then combined with the data you can form a more robust view on what to change with the new site. You can run this user testing on your existing website and on your designs for the new one. You’ll often be surprised what obvious stuff other people see, but you’ve missed, because you’re working so closely on the project.
Mobile first, of course: If you haven’t done it before, you should take a mobile first approach to your new website - if this seems odd, check what share of your traffic is from mobiles and in most cases you’ll see why. At all key stages you should consider how the website will be built for mobiles, then as a secondary consideration consider how this will apply to desktop. This focus is just going to continue to get more important over time... If you need more evidence, see how mobile is still growing here.
Run a Tag Audit: Who knows what every tag on their website does? No-one. But you should. Set aside time during the new site project to review what all of the tags on your existing website do (use a tool like Ghostery or Tag Assistant to help find them all). Then agree which you need to keep, which can be removed as part of the site migration and which new ones you might like to add. If you aren’t currently using a tag management tool, then you should use this as an opportunity to consider migrating to one.
- Make sure your developers understand the importance of loading times: Run some tests to see how well your existing website performs - use tools like Google's Page Speed Insights. These tools not only give your website a ‘score’ but they give you guidance on how to improve loading time. When you share these reports with the team building your new website, be sure to stress the importance of keeping these loading times to a minimum (for user experience and the Google organic/paid algorithms).
SearchStar use a website conversion framework to help us evaluate website effectiveness for their clients. If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can improve the conversion rate of your website, please give us a call on 01225 583838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.