Upgrading or replacing your website should be as simple as choosing a new template, deciding on a colour scheme, and watching the visitors come flocking in from search engines and social profiles, right?
In fact, the best analogy we can draw for rebuilding a business website is one of renovating an old house. If you've ever been through that process, then you already know it doesn't happen with the speed you see on TV. Instead, it involves assessing what you have to work with, keeping an eye open for hidden technical challenges, refining design or structural elements, and working away at it until you have something you can live with, or in.
Note that we aren't trying to dissuade you from upgrading your website. It is likely very necessary if your website has gotten out-of-date. What we’re saying, though, is that you shouldn't expect it to be a simple, 3-day process – and if another web designer tells you it is, you might want to take your business elsewhere.
To understand why, here are the major steps you'll have to follow to rebuild a new website from the ground up:
First, you tear down what's not up to code.
You might not have mold or asbestos in your existing business site, but you probably do have missing pages, broken links, outdated content, and other issues that need to be resolved. Deciding what you're going to do with these (or whether known issues will have any part in your new website at all) should take place during the planning phase so your next website can have an organized, predictable structure.
Then, you get the foundation in place.
In this case, the foundation is referred to the actual structure and content of your new website. Often, these can be taken from your existing web presence, but the move isn't necessarily as straightforward as copy-and-paste. That's because you need to ensure that links, page names, and other details stay intact during and after. It's also a good idea to back up your entire existing site before any new work begins.
Next, it's time to build better.
If you have apps and plug-ins running on your existing business website, your design team will need to ensure that these still function with the new theme or layout you're going to be using. It's not unusual for these small pieces of software go out of date, or even become outdated.
And finally, you enjoy your new online home and keep it in good condition.
On TV, a renovated home is "finished" when everybody moves in. In online marketing, though, the launch of a new business website means that the real work is just beginning. That's because search engine optimization, content development, social media engagement, and especially lead generation activities should be your real priorities. Just putting up a nice-looking site doesn't bring in any leads.
In online marketing, and in life, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Don't let someone talk you into a "quick fix" website redesign simply because you're anxious to have a new look. This is going to become your most important sales and marketing piece. Approach the project same way you would a home renovation – with a commitment to using the right philosophy and materials.
It won't be as quick, but the result will be something you can be proud to call your "home" on the Internet for years to come.