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Five Data Points You Should Reference Before Your Next Redesign

For most, if you mention you’re considering embarking on a website redesign, the discussion will, more often than not, steer towards the creative aspects of it.  Debates around newly available technology, tours of hopeful sketches and mockups, and discussions around aesthetics and the user experience.    

Yet, behind nearly every planned redesign, whether it be iterative or a complete overhaul, the hypothesis that the current website’s performance could be improved.   Regardless of whether a redesign was primarily driven by instinct or by data, every redesign, at some point, falls back on data points to prove whether your redesign performed as expected.  

With that in mind, the below data points are ones we’ve found helpful for our clients who are considering (or in the midst of) redesigning their website. 

1. Site Inventory 

Creating an understanding of your current inventory helps ensure that your most popular content doesn’t get forgotten in the flurry of a redesign.  While this may be easier for smaller, brochure-style websites, minor updates to the navigation or architecture of complex websites can inadvertently hide or remove some of your most popular content if you’re not actively guarding them within your redesign’s strategy.  

  • Top Content by Page / Event  
    • What are your top pages by pageview and time on site?  
      • Is the page popular because it’s a bridge to a more popular page (category page) or because of its content (embedded video, form, etc.)? 
    • What are your top events (downloads, videos)? 
      • What are the calls to action these use? (button colors, anchor-text, form types)  
    • What is your least popular of the above?  
      • What needs improvement, optimization, or can be removed entirely? 
  • Crawl 
    • Tools like ScreamingFrog can provide a snapshot of your current site’s inventory.  This is especially helpful if your redesign will be impacting your current URL structure and navigation structure by allowing you a quick list of what pages you’ll need to either redirect (301 redirects) or retire (404 page). 
    • Crawls can also help identify other areas of your site that can often be overlooked in a redesign, such as: 
      • Current redirects you have in place that may need to be extended or retired. 
      • Current canonical tags that may need to be updated during a redesign. 
      • Highlighting any subdomain or external domain content that your site may rely on should be considered part of the redesign.  While this may seem obvious, on larger sites, the number of integrated platforms (Unbounce, HubSpot, etc.) that also host landing page or conversion-based content can be vast and easy to overlook as part of your inventory when considering a redesign. 
  • Backlinks Report 
    • An essential part of your site inventory isn’t just the content that lives on your domain but the external content that links to it.  If a reshuffling of your website’s URL structure and content model is part of your redesign, understanding what content has quality backlinks is vital.    
    • Tools like AhrefsSEMRushGoogle Search Console, and others offer various backlink reports that can help you catalog what content you need to prioritize in ensuring a solid backlink strategy as part of your redesign.   

2. User Profile Reporting  

Redesigns can sometimes assume that your users follow average user profiles for how they engage with your website.  Ensuring you understand if there are unique patterns to your users allows you to include these habits into your redesign strategy. 

  • Technology (Browser/Device) 
    • What percentage of your user-base uses Mobile, Tablet, or Desktop?   
      • Note: This may be skewed if your current site isn’t mobile-optimized, so ensure that you take that into account.  A website with a poor mobile experience will generally have a lower mobile user base than average. 
    • Is there a difference in New vs. Returning Users between devices?  This may show that your users first engage with your website on one device type and then return later using another.  Does your redesign account for that? 

Depending on the size of your redesign, there are often significant discussions around is the optimal time to deploy it.  If your redesign requires a site outage, make sure you understand when your website’s peak usage windows are.

  • Time of Day (Conversions, Visits) 
    • What days of the week are your highest peaks in traffic and conversions?  What time of day? These reports can reveal the best windows to release a new redesign that will have the lowest impact and interruption to your website and its users. 
  • Demographic (Geo) 
    • If your website has an extensive international user base, this can complicate a redesign launch as your website may have less of a window of low usage.  Are there particular regions where activity is the lowest when compared to your Time of Day reporting?   
    • Are there surprises or opportunities here for your upcoming redesign?  
      • If you’re seeing a higher-than-expected demand from regions you’re not targeting, does your redesign consider these? (international SEO, etc.). 

3. User Journey 

What are the best experiences of your current website? What is the worst?  How do your conversion funnels perform, and where could they be improved?  Answering these questions (or at least finding a high-level trend) can help point your tactics during a redesign towards the areas that can provide the most impact. 

  • Funnel Performance 
    • If your current website has funnels (a multiple-step New Account form, a multiple fields Contact Us form, etc.), identify the areas that work well and the areas that could be improved.   
  • Page Path Performance 
    • What is the most common path a user takes upon entering your website? This can help instruct your approach to your redesign and your internal linking strategy and content model.   
    • Pay close attention to the time-on-page as you look at each step of your page paths.  Are there pages that have drastically low time on page time?  These could be pages that could be improved, removed, or made more relevant to users instead of obstacles on their journey through your site. 
  • Entrance / Exit / Bounce 
    • What pages (apart from your home page) have the highest entry (landing pages report)?  What pages do most of your users exit your website from (exit rate)?  What pages do your users immediately leave after entering (bounce rate)?  This can be vital information if you’re redesigning your site’s architecture and content layout. 

4. Benchmarks Document 

While many of the above are benchmarks, taking a moment to collect them within a benchmarking document (spreadsheet, etc.) can be helpful to provide a one-stop resource for you and your team to measure the effectiveness post-redesign.  If nothing else, allowing your team to have an easy-to-reference scorecard can help lower anxiety as you field the inevitable “Did it work?” questions post-redesign. 

As well, make sure to consider other benchmarks that can sometimes be overlooked. 

  • Load Times 
    • Tools like Google Analytics, Pingdom, and Google Pagespeed Insights can provide valuable data on how quickly (or slowly) your current site loads.  Being able to spot improvements quickly (or declines) post-launch can help ensure your site improves performance.  This is especially vital for ensuring an excellent mobile experience and preparing for Google’s Core Web Vitals to play a more significant part in your SEO health in the long run. 
  • SEO Metrics 
    • One of the most impacted channels from a redesign is often Organic Traffic.  Ensuring you’re pulling a benchmark below can help you quickly notice (and potentially contribute) positive or negative impacts from the redesign after launch. 
      • Top Organic Pages by Traffic  
      • Top Organic Keywords by Average Position 
      • Performance, Page Experience, and Coverage Reports from Google Search Console 

5. Technical Debt 

  • Integrations Inventory 
    • With larger sites, understanding the full breadth of integrations your website relies on can help better prepare you for the full breadth of a redesign and those involved.  While more extensive integrations may be evident and hard to overlook (your shopping cart, analytics, CRM), smaller integrations can sometimes be forgotten in a more comprehensive redesign (landing page platforms, heat mapping software, Google Search Console verification).  Making a comprehensive list of these can help provide a convenient checklist for your team, QA, and vendors. 
  • Analytics Inventory 
    • If you’re using default tracking from your analytics vendor of choice, a redesign may only require ensuring your tracking script. However, if you rely on many custom events and goals for your reporting, ensuring you take an inventory of your website’s tagging can ensure you’re not missing out on vital analytics post-redesign.  Creating a tagging guide that details the Goals, custom events, and related tracking you rely on can help direct your redesign efforts and your QA pre-launch. 

It isn’t easy to be comprehensive without writing what amounts to a novel as with any list.  Yet, the above should at least provide you and your team a great starting point that may allow you to create a targeted redesign strategy and more peace of mind during what can be one of the most stressful parts of managing your organization’s website.