5 Content Questions to Ask when You Change Your Design
When you redesign a traditional website, you typically have to start from the beginning. You can copy and paste your words into a document and use them again, but you’re building your website from scratch, so this can be a big effort.
Right now, we’re helping a nonprofit with a redesign — from one WordPress theme to another. Design and content are separate in a WordPress website, unlike traditional websites, and the content is not lost when the design, or theme, changes. In theory, if you are redesigning a WordPress website, you can simply change the theme and all the content will just shake its feathers and settle back in.
Don’t count on it. For one thing, unless you made your redesign specifically to accommodate your content, chances are very good that it won’t show up in the places where you expect it to show up.
In order to demonstrate this, I swapped out themes for our lab site, Fresh Plans. I made no other changes.
- The current theme has everything where we want it to be.
2. A basic WordPress theme brings the latest posts to the home page, as in a blog, and completely changes the navigation. Our logo is gone and the homepage content doesn’t show at all, while categories are organized alphabetically — not the way we want it.
3. A premium theme keeps the main navigation intact, but everything else is gone, including the name of the website.
Basically, unless your website is a very simple blog, you can’t just change the theme and hope everything works out okay.
So, as you’re updating your content to work with the new design and vice versa, it makes sense to optimize as you go along.
Here are some things to consider as you work:
- Do you have some pages that are light on content, and if so, can you put them together to make beefier pages? In general, more pages are better, but pages with few words don’t do you any good with search engines, and human visitors may prefer to get more information at one time.
- How big are your images? If you have 3200 pixel photos showing up as 350 pixel images, you’re being wasteful. You can probably speed up your website by resizing the images before you load them up into your new pages. And yes, you will probably need to load your images afresh, even if you just upload a new theme.
- How are your links? This is a great time to test for broken links and to repair or remove any you find. Clicking through them all might be arduous now, but it will be less trouble now than at almost any other time.
- Have you done much copying and pasting? Plenty of us copy a sentence we’re going to quote or grab a line from an email and paste it in, but the result is often a whole bunch of extra code in your posts and pages. Clean this up as you go along.
- If your website has grown organically, with links from one page to another and little change in navigation, it might be a good time to make sure that the site architecture still makes sense. Ask yourself whether you would still use the same navigation today, with the current content, that you used when the website was first built. Should some of your pages really be posts, or vice versa?
Take the opportunity to optimize your content and update some of the information you’re presenting.