A botched website redesign can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Whether the content sends the wrong message, it doesn’t bring your business the results you expected, or it just doesn’t look how it should, you deserve a finished product that is worth the money you paid for it.
In our experience, botched websites generally come from taking the least expensive route in redesigning your site. Other botched web designs come from companies that tout a finished product but never fully deliver. Still others come from in-house teams that bite off more than they can chew.
No matter the source, it’s important that you identify what’s wrong with your website redesign and how to fix it.
Identify the Problem
It’s easy to know if your website’s design doesn’t match your company branding, and hopefully you’ve fixed that problem before the website was finished.
Other problems may not be as obvious. Here are two easy ways to determine the issues with your site redesign:
Analytics tell the story
Use Google Analytics to find your bounce rate on the homepage and key product or service pages. A high bounce rate on any of these pages generally indicates the page doesn’t give your visitor what he is expecting - causing them to leave the page.
A high bounce rate also indicates the need for a content overhaul, so plan to tweak the content of any page with a bounce rate above 40%.
Products like Crazy Egg’s heat map can help you see where people are clicking on the page, and how far down they scroll. If most visitors aren’t traveling down the page, they may be missing your best content.
Test your website with real people
Having real people take a look at your site and perform a few carefully-written tasks can give you a quick, honest evaluation. Send it to your colleagues, a few trusted acquaintances in the industry, and perhaps even some prospects. Ask them all to browse the site and give you feedback on your website’s message and overall look.
For more site testing, services like UserTesting.com get your site in front of even more real people who have experience reviewing sites and give give you honest, open feedback.
Use UserTesting.com to run 4-6 quick usability tests on your website. Provide the testers very specific tasks to accomplish. Asking them to "speak out loud" as they use the site will alert you to the same thought process that your readers are probably going through.
Ask open ended questions like, "after looking at our homepage, summarize in a sentence what our company does" or "what did you find confusing about our homepage" to determine where your site is missing the mark.
Fixing Your Website
Compile the feedback that you received from the site testers with your analytics to put together a picture of where your site’s biggest problems are. Whether it’s confusing content, lack of next steps, or distracting visuals, there’s a few approaches you can take when fixing your site:
Edit your copy
Usually a botched website lacks clarity in the copy, making it difficult for your readers to understand what your site is about. If you wrote the website content yourself, have an editor or outsourced copywriter edit the copy to make it clearer and optimized for SEO.
Make sure your copywriter or editor is familiar with your industry or at least willing to do a bit of research. Spend time with them to ensure they know your product line, customer base, and intended target market. Thoroughly explain your personas to your copywriter or editor so they know who to write/edit for.
Don’t be afraid to give them feedback along the way to ensure your site turns out the way you are intending.
Add calls to action and landing pages
It's important to add next steps and visual cues for what your visitor should do next. If your visitor doesn’t know what to do once on your site, they’re going to leave the page.
Calls to action and landing pages give your site a more comprehensive flow for your visitors to follow.
For your calls to action, combine more direct components like "buy now" or "get help" with softer approaches, like content downloads and guides, for people who aren't ready to buy or are doing their research.
Once you give your readers somewhere to go, you’re likely to see bounce rates drop and conversion rates improve.
Seek professional help
If all else fails and you can muster the confidence (and budget) to try again, seek a inbound marketing partner. Take your time looking for a company who can work with company brand standards and either work with or define your customer personas.
Your inbound marketing team should be able to balance writing or editing great copy with designing an easy-to-use look and feel.
Make sure your inbound marketing team has experience with lead generation through websites, too, as you want your website to pay for itself many times over.
If you outsource, work closely and give your partner feedback throughout the process to ensure it’s done right. Checking up on your site as it progresses can help make sure you don’t end up with another botched website.
We spoke with a company once that had gone through several botched website designs. The owner even said that he’d close the business before he designed the website again!
A flawed website design can make you lose faith in design and marketing companies, but it’s easy to get back on your feet. Don’t let one bad experience force you into keeping a site that isn’t working for your business - you may find the company that re-creates your site design develops a masterpiece.
Once your site is at a good place, don’t forget to continuously track site effectiveness and improve it. Spending a bit of time each week evaluating your analytics and keyword success will help you find places on the site to spot fix. Your website should constantly be progressing your business forward, even if only in small, incremental improvements.
Originally published Aug 13, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017