How to Recover from a Botched Redesign
One of the biggest challenges facing website owners is keeping up with the technology and finding a website platform and design that will work with their needs. This is especially the case for e-commerce websites that are relying on their search engine ranking exposure for sales. Unfortunately it is common for a re-design not to go well. Sites can lose their search engine rankings, visitors, usability and ultimately, the whole business. Some quick thinking and following these tips can help you resolve your redesign disaster and save the website business.
When a website’s design changes the URLs usually change. The URLs are the addresses of each page. When those pages change, the search engines need to know where they have moved to. This is accomplished with a 301 redirect file. This is a spreadsheet that is coded into your new site that basically tells the search engines that visit the old page where the new page is. Once this redirect file is in place, it means that when someone visits an old URL from the site, the page will auto redirect to the new page on the new design platform. This will prevent not only the search engines from missing your site, but visitors will not get lost either.
Much of the problems with a redesign can be averted by planning ahead of time and getting all of the components of the new site in place before flipping the switch. Make sure that all the meta tags and meta data such as the title, keywords and description are in place on each page. Then each page on the new site needs to have enough content on each page to let both the search engines and site visitors know what each page is about.
Even though the 301 redirect file will take care of auto redirecting visitors, it is a good idea to change any old links from your blog or other sources you have control over. Then start to build new links to the new pages on your site. Just telling the search engines about your pages moving is not enough. Be sure to take other measures to advertise your change so that your existing customers will not be surprised. Announce your design change in social media and press releases. Look for feedback from your customer and conduct some testing to see how visitors react to your site design and make sure that the usability of your new site is up to par and that visitors are taking the path on the site you intended with the design and that the site is optimized for conversions.
Changing a website design is supposed to be for the better. It is supposed to represent an improvement in technology and increase conversions on the website to make the business better. Too often a change in the design causes more problems that cause the site owners to back pedal and fix problems instead of moving forward. The main way to avoid these design disasters from happening is careful planning and be prepared not to switch to the new site until the new site design is in place first.
Richard Larson is author and Brand Manager for GoPromotional, provider of GoPromotional conference bags. He enjoys sharing business and marketing tips to the online community.