Website Redesign Best Practices

Jesse Hopps

Over 70% of mid-sized organizations are currently involved in a website redesign initiative, or have one planned for this year. Before you go to your CFO to get some budget for this program, conduct a brief website effectiveness audit to build the need.

    • Step 1 - Evaluate Internal Web Capabilities: use our SWOT Analysis Tool to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, when it comes to website program effectiveness.
    • Step 2 - Conduct an Industry Analysis: determine if there is a general trend in your industry regarding website design and development. Document your insights with our STEP Industry Analysis Tool and Competitive Analysis Tool.

Gain Approval for Website Redesign

  • Step 1 - Identify Key Success Factors: it is critical that you understand, and document any risks and contingencies for this project. Use our Key Success Factors Tool to start the process of building a sound, conservative business case.
  • Step 2 - Build Website Program Charter: use our Project Charter template to document project purpose, scope, and plan. Your project plan should include start date, anticipated end date, project team, communications plan, deliverables, and milestones.
  • Step 3 - Create Website Program Business Case: use our Business Case template to outline the qualitative/quantitative benefits as compared to the costs and risks of the initiative.
  • Step 4 - Achieve Approval for Website Program: use your Business Case to sell this idea internally to senior management.

Define Website Requirements

  • Step 1 - Determine Website Objectives & Measures: what are your future web marketing initiatives? What analytics/metrics do you want to have in place? Use our Web Marketing Scorecard and Web Metrics Reporting Schedule to define your high-level objectives, targets, initiatives, and measures for this program.
  • Step 2 - Gather Functional Requirements by Department: work with each department to develop a Web Requirements Document which can be handed off to I/T for technical implementation. This document will act as your list of deliverables.
  • Step 3 - Prioritize Website Requirements: have a meeting with the website team and work through our Web Requirements Priority Tool. This exercise is critical for achieving consensus.
  • Step 4 - Analyze Infrastructure Requirements: website infrastructure is composed of People, Processes, and Technology. Use our Website Infrastructure Checklist to determine if you have any gaps in your existing infrastructure.
  • Step 5 - Perform a Web Program GAP Analysis: use our GAP Analysis Tool to evaluate your functional & infrastructure requirements. Determine the feasibility of closing each gap and make adjustments to your requirements document accordingly.
  • Step 6 - Decide to Outsource or Build Internally: work with your project sponsor to complete a Build vs. Buy Analysis and make a decision with regard to website staffing and support.

Build a Website Program Action Plan

Use Demand Metric’s Website Program Action Plan Tool to pull together all of the internal, external, and GAP analyses that have been completed so far. This document will provide a high-level overview of the entire program for any senior executives who now need to get involved.

Develop your New Website

If you haven’t done so already, read our Evaluating Website Effectiveness Report to understand what makes a solid website.

  • Step 1 - Define your Target Audience(s) & Purpose: most websites cater to prospective customers, existing customers, potential employees, investors, media, partners, & community. Think about the objectives of each audience to create pages and sections that deliver valuable content based on each perspective.
  • Step 2 - Organize Content & Structure: work to build a hierarchy of pages (which will become your sitemap) and focus on minimizing the amount of "clicks" it takes for a user to get to their end destination. Your homepage should make it very easy to navigate to any section or sub-section off the website. Many organizations like to create a URL/favorites icon to reinforce their brand or logo. Go to to learn more.
  • Step 3 - Establish Privacy Policy and Terms of Use: protect your organization from potential litigation resulting from website usage. Use our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use templates to save time with getting these documents over to legal for approval. If you have a Blog on your website, you may need a Blog Policy.
  • Step 4 - Integrate Analytics and Web Reporting: if you aren’t using analytics, read Free Web Analytics from Google.
  • Step 5 - Handoff to Technical Staff for Development: now that you have your functional requirements completed, and have organized the content and structure of the website, handoff the delivery component of the project to your technical web team.
  • Step 6 - Build, Test, & Launch Website: work closely with the development team to ensure that the website that is built accurately reflects the web requirements document. Conduct external penetration testing or "white-hat hacking" to ensure your website is secure and will not allow unauthorized access. Test each page and document to ensure that the proper business rules have been applied (i.e. whitepaper download form creates a lead for Sales, sends a download link, and has a real-time message to thank them for their interest). If everything works, launch your new website with some internal/external promotions.

Drive Traffic to your Website

  • Step 1 - Develop an External Linking Strategy: search engines like Google and Yahoo make assumptions about the “importance” of your website, based on many factors including external links that point to your website. Consider implementing an affiliate or online marketing initiative to drive traffic. Affiliates are partners, or other third-party websites who promote your organization and send traffic from their website to yours. If your business does not lend itself to affiliate marketing, consider ads.
  • Step 2 - Submit your Website to Search Engines: Google and Yahoo need to index your website before it will appear in the search results organically. You can go to each search engine directly and look for a link or tab that says “Submit” or “Index”.
  • Step 3 - Conduct Search Engine Optimization: there is organic and paid search. Read Simplifying Search Engine Optimization for more help in this area. If you know you want keyword ads, read Pull Prospects with Google AdWords.
  • Step 4 - Build up your Reference Library: to promote repeat visitors, add to your base of whitepapers, case studies, webcasts, best practices, and other collateral, on a very regular basis.
  • Step 5 - Integrate Website with Other Channels: consider using your new website for lead generation (website demo), post press releases, promote events and speaking engagements, add a newsletter to build up your email marketing database, etc.
  • Step 6 - Consider Adding a Customer-Facing Blog: many organizations are using blogs to informally communicate with customers, and to gather company & product feedback. Read Successful Blogs Increase Customer Satisfaction for more advice. Use our Blog Policy template if you plan to use this new medium.

Proactively Maintain your Website

  • Step 1 - Develop a Maintenance Schedule: set up a weekly or monthly website maintenance schedule to update content, check for broken links, evaluate structure, and add new features.
  • Step 2 - Re-organize as Content Grows: most websites start with a base-level of content and add incrementally over time. As your amount of content grows, you may need to re-organize the website to keep navigation simple and easy for end users.
  • Step 3 - Evaluate Website Program Annually: once you have completed this initiative, don.t let three years go by before you make any strategic changes. Make a point to re-evaluate your website program on an annual basis, at a minimum.

Corporate websites are one of the most important aspects of the marketing mix, yet surprisingly, most organizations are not happy with the results they are achieving through online marketing. You don’t need to have technical skills or a huge budget to make your website an effective lead generation and customer support tool.

Start by conducting an audit of your current effectiveness; build a business case for a redesign project; define your business requirements; develop an action plan; design your website; and drive traffic to demonstrate measurable marketing results.

Based on the best practices described in this report, and tools provided, you should be able to get started with a website program. If you need more clarity, contact Demand Metric and we will provide you with more tailored advice.