Website Redesign Process: Content

Designer Tom Hapgood and I met yesterday to map out the site architecture for our new company website.

We’re just getting started on the process of redesigning our website — and I realized yesterday that we’re through with the parts the clients share. “Do you know,” I said to Julianne, “that at this point, the clients are out of the process for a while and we’re doing everything?”

She did know this, because Julianne is not involved in any of the creative work on websites, so she is pretty much out of the process now for our internal web design.

This isn’t a problem for companies working with Haden Interactive, because we take care of your content. Most web firms don’t, though. They give you a design with lorem ipsum in it, or with empty boxes you are supposed to fill with content. On a website redesign, they’ll typically just use what you already have, sometimes simply duplicating it if they’ve designed new pages. This is not good.

So how do you approach the content issue for a website redesign?

Check your analytics

This should be the first thing you think about. Here are some things you can learn from your analytics:

  • Which pages are currently doing well in search?
  • Which pages are most popular?
  • Which pages convert well?
  • Which pages have high bounce rates?
  • Which pages are working hard in your sales funnel?
  • Which pages aren’t being visited?
  • What pages do people search for on your site — and not find?
  • What keywords bring the most traffic?
  • What keywords lead to conversion?
  • What keywords should be bringing traffic but are not?
  • Are visitors following the path-to-purchase you planned?
  • Are people getting confused?
  • Is social media bringing traffic?
  • Is your social media integration working?

Once you’ve delved into all this, you should have a clear idea of what works and what needs work when it comes to your content. You’ll have a list of pages that need to be rewritten, pages that need to be added, and pages you’ll want to keep as they are.

Think about branding.

On the list of branding essentials you’ll find “tone of voice.” This is about content. We’ve seen websites where the homepage content was copied from a brochure and the tone of voice is very corporate — but when you click to an inner page you find something completely different. We’ve seen About Us pages where the various staff members have written their own bios in third person, so the content on that one page ranges from stiffly formal to witty and whimsical.

You need a website that sounds the same throughout. Bright and brash, reserved yet sharp, or warm and friendly, the tone should be the same on every page unless you have a special reason (maybe a letter from the president) for including some variation.

It’s very likely that your content doesn’t really convey your brand the way you want it to, but you may not be able to see that — it’s hard to judge your own website objectively. Get some outside opinions and consider hiring a professional — you may be surprised to learn how affordable web content copywriting can be (call 479.966.9761 to hire Haden Interactive for this part of your redesign).

Get it right.

Most designers don’t read the copy they place in your website, let alone proofread it. You can’t rely on a web designer to catch typos or to decide which elements should be headings.

If you have a content management system like WordPress, you may be able to get in to change or correct your text, but sometimes the home page is not accessible — in fact, a custom website may have quite a bit of the content coded in or in a place where it’s hard to find. You may also find, even with a CMS, that it’s not worth your time to make your own content changes. Often they won’t look just the way you want them to, and if you don’t spend much time in your CMS, it can be hard to remember just how to manage it. Changes that take your web pros a couple of minutes can take you an hour.

That means that if you’re responsible for your own content, you must be sure you get all the spelling and punctuation right before you send it to your designer. Then you must be sure to proofread it one last time after it has been implemented into the design.

For Haden Interactive, we’re planning big content changes. We’re rewriting most of our pages, reorganizing the site architecture, and adding lots of new things. Pretty exciting. Your redesign might not involve so many content changes, but it makes sense to take the opportunity to examine your website thoroughly and find the points where optimization and updating could make a difference for you.

One thought on “Website Redesign Process: Content

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