Undergoing a website redesign? You poor thing.

68% of marketers like you undergo a website redesign every year to 18 months. Those redesigns, on average, take about four months to complete. (Source: The Science of Website Redesign). Which means four months discussions about what is best for your site and company. 

At times, redesigning your website can seem like bringing a bill through congress -- lots of different opinions and more than a few uninformed ones. Because of its level of visibility, your website redesign plans may attract opinions and instructions from all parts of the organization. So how do you keep all of these stakeholders happy without building a schizophrenic site?

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Well, it helps to know what's behind each person's perspective, and to keep the customer experience at the center of all decisions. Let's take a look at a few of the most common stakeholders in any website redesign, and examine their motivations, their common complaints, and the thing that's likely to make them happiest when all is said and done.

The C-Level Executive

Whether it's your company's president or your CMO, you can probably expect some big opinions on the website coming from your company's executive team. 

What She Says: "We need a completely new website. Our site's not working. Make it look like [insert big company name here]."

What She Really Wants: Your C-level executive may not know exactly how to say it, but she just wants a site that is going to drive the greatest results for the company.  

How to Satisfy That: Talk in terms of benchmarks and goals for your website redesign. Deliver a clear assessment of the metrics your site is delivering today and give her a breakdown of what your redesign aims to achieve in its first month and quarter. 

How to Pleasantly Surprise Her: Run this Marketing Grader report for your current website and document benchmarks on this website progress and planning spreadsheet prior to meeting with her. Be ready for her questions and get on the same page about outcomes you want the site to achieve. 

The IT Squad

The website used to live exclusively in the realm of the IT department. But with the advent and expansion of content management systems, marketing has taken over primary control and responsibility for the site. Don't let that fact mislead you that IT is no longer involved, though. Your IT team is going to care a great deal about the security and performance of your site. 

What They Say: "We need a Secure Sockets Layer certificate with a 256-bit AES key, a fast and secure content delivery network, and a view that is bootstrap responsive for all devices."

What They Really Want: Information Technology concerns for websites typically fall in a few different categories: Speed, security, and viewer optimization. If your IT team contains developers or designers, they're also going to care about how easily they can access the code to your website and how flexible the CMS is for creating custom components and design features.

How to Satisfy That: If you are moving to a new CMS or platform for the redesign, talk to the provider about the following:

  • What method of mobile optimization does the system use? Responsive design or a separate mobile site?
  • Data encryption -- what kind of network security measures do you employ? 
  • How do you protect against DDoS attacks?

How to Pleasantly Surprise Them: Speak their language. Study up on the most common terms for website security and optimization. HubSpot's own security page can help you learn some of them. 

The Creative Visionary

He's got a Pinterest board full of beautiful websites. He wants your website redesign to stand out among the rest, and he's really tuned into the imagery, fonts, and other visual components of the site.  

What He Says: "We need a homepage that inspires. This homepage is too blah. Make me care. Remind me what it's like to feel passion again. I want you to woo me." 

What He Really Wants: Your creative visionary wants the flexibility to create an original and striking design.   

How to Satisfy That: There's more than art to a great design. Work with your creative visionary to understand what he's trying to achieve through his focus on the design. Make sure you use a CMS that is both user-friendly for a non-technical designer and flexible enough to give designers access to build out their vision.  

How to Pleasantly Surprise Him: Prioritize responsive design so that your site adjusts to any size viewer or device. Doing so will ensure that whatever design you end up at looks right no matter how it's being viewed. 

The Sales Team

They believe the purpose of a good website is to drive leads, and remind you of that frequently. Your sales team relies on your website as a source of potential revenue and has a lot at stake in any redesign. They need the site to generate leads and to act as a Sales tool while they're in discussions with leads. 

What They Say: "More web leads please."

What They Really Want: More and better-informed web leads, please.

How to Satisfy That: According to CEB, 57% of the buying decision is completed before a salesperson is even allowed to meet the buyer. During that time the buyer is researching their purchase decision both on and off your site. Demonstrate to your sales team that your site has a clear path to conversion for leads not just from the homepage, but also throughout your content. Create top-of-the-funnel educational offers to pull leads into your site, and reinforce that with middle-of-the-funnel content like case-studies and buyers guides.

How to Pleasantly Surprise Them: A website redesign is a great time to sit down with your sales team and create an SLA or "service level agreement." An SLA is a contract between Sales and Marketing that calculates the number and quality of leads both teams can expect in a given month. It is a shared goal both teams can commit to and celebrate each month. If it sounds complicated, don't worry, we've created a free SLA template to help get you started 

The SEO Specialist

If you have an SEO specialist, he has probably spent a great deal of time ensuring the content on your existing site ranks for key search terms on Google and other search engines. He is going to want to make sure that any redesign doesn't undercut those rankings. 

What He Says: Your SEO specialist's reaction may range from the panicked "Don't touch anything!" to the more strategic, "We need more keywords in the homepage copy." The good news is, you can have an answer to both. 

What He Really Wants: Quite simply, your SEO specialist wants you to protect your current search engine rank with 301 redirects and careful attention to keyword rank.  

How to Satisfy That:

  • Document your most search-valued pages to ensure they are protected.
  • Determine any new keywords you want your website to rank for, then use on-page SEO best practices -- you can use this on-page SEO template to help -- to optimize the pages on your redesigned version. 

How to Pleasantly Surprise Him: Create a spreadsheet to record and map out your 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. Whenever you move or rebuild content, you'll likely move content from one URL to another. Moving this content can erode any SEO value you've established at the old URL. A 301 redirect is like a change-of address-form for your website so that search engines know where to find your new pages. You don't have to institute the 301 redirects yourself, but getting this content all organized will help your SEO specialist out.  

The Primary Marketing User

The primary marketing user is the internal stakeholder who will probably be most impacted by your website redesign. She needs a site that she can run on a daily basis. Her role is measured in her ability to attract leads with useful content, and the website is one of her main tools in that endeavor. 

What She Says: "I have to have control over the content." 

What She Really Wants: She has to have control over the content. No mind-games here. Particularly if your company uses an inbound marketing strategy, your marketer needs to be able to publish content and update the site with a frequency. There should be no barriers -- technical or otherwise -- between your marketer and an edit to the website.  

How to Satisfy That: Choose a content system with a simple editor and template builder. This is important, so make sure that your marketer tries it out first. If you're using the same system and just updating the website, you still need to make sure that you're not limiting your marketer with style choices that involve a lot of code. While it's good for marketers to learn some common HTML, don't use any styling that is going to prevent the marketer from publishing quality, searchable content with ease. 

How to Pleasantly Surprise Her: Talk with your most common marketing user to find out what templates are most useful for her when she's building pages, landing pages, and thank you pages. Make sure that those templates are prioritized in the redesign. 

The Customer

What He Says: "I can't find anything on this website! Where do you keep the pricing page?"

What He Really Wants: HubSpot conducted a study which asked website visitors what the most important design factor is in the success of a website in their minds. Their response? 76% of respondents prioritized sites that "Make it easy for me to find what I want." For a customer, the primary role of a website is a functional one. They need it to answer questions and guide them to the next step in their decision process. They may like a visually compelling site, but they need a functional one. 

How to Satisfy That: Examine your analytics to see the most common pages viewed by customers prior to converting. Use that data to build your main navigation and homepage links. Interview website visitors through user testing. Watch how they navigate your website unaided. Look for points of confusion or determination. 

How to Pleasantly Surprise Him: Use dynamically changing content like smart CTAs to make your website more relevant to where he is in the customer lifecycle. If he's a first-time visitor, use a homepage CTA that directs him to top of the funnel educational content, like an ebook or a webinar. If he's a long-time customer, have that CTA switch to direct him to training opportunities or an upcoming customer event. You'll need a contact database and smart content tools to pull this off, but it's a great way to have the website fit the customer.

Famed book and music critic Whitney Balliett once playfully quipped that “A critic is a bundle of biases held loosely together by a sense of taste.” In the midst of a website redesign it can seem like you are in the company of a thousand critics. But stay focused and keep your sense of humor. Find out the root need that each opinion is trying to address. Make a conscious effort to address each need, even if you don't satisfy every cook in the kitchen, and you'll end up with a website that drives results.

Image credit: ericskiff

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Originally published Aug 7, 2013 11:29:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


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