The Most Critical Element of a Website Redesign

    By | Small Business

    Website redesigns are exciting. As I write this, my company SparkReaction in the process of updating our own site, and we’re having fun. Between new designs and new content, it feels like our company is getting a fresh look and feel.

    This update has been a long time coming. Before we started working on the actual design and coding, we tackled one very important task: revisiting our buyer personas. All too often, we see companies set out to refresh their website without this crucial step, which is a bad idea. If you’re tempted to do the same — that is, dive right into redesign without developing personas for your ideal customers — let me convince you otherwise.

    How Do I Redesign My Site For My Buyer Personas?

    Before moving full speed ahead into design and coding, map out your website. Create pages for each of your buyer personas and for each phase of the buyer’s journey. Then, as you (or the web developers you hired) design, code and create content, keep in mind these important questions:

    • Which buyer persona(s) do we want to look at this page?
    • Which stage of the buyer’s journey should this page focus on?
    • What is the visitor looking for on the page?
    • Does the site page provide what the buyer persona wants and needs?
    • Do the offers and CTAs move the buyer persona further down the marketing funnel?

    There’s no right answer to these questions, but taking the time to answer them will make sure your site is actually serving your ideal prospects (and turning them in to actual customers!).

    Why Do Buyer Personas Come First?

    When getting started with an inbound marketing strategy, identifying and addressing buyer personas should be the first step. This is true even if you already have an effective business blog or a snazzy-looking website and just want to beef up your inbound efforts.

    Creating realistic buyer personas in the beginning will help you make sure you’re attracting the right visitors. They give each page of your site redesign a clear purpose and will guide every website decision you make. Ignoring buyer personas won’t let the inbound methodology work its magic on your prospects.

    Can’t I Just Do Them After My Site Redesign?

    Absolutely not. If you jump ahead to redesign your site and create your buyer personas afterwards, you’ll most likely see one of two results:

    1. You develop great buyer personas that truly reflect your potential customers, but your freshly designed site doesn’t really work for them. When viewers visit your site, they won’t convert to leads because they won’t find it helpful.
    2. You fall in love with your new site so much that you base your buyer personas off of the site itself. Even if the personas appreciate your site, they might not actually become customers because they’re not your target audience.

    In either case, you won’t be attracting the right visitors, which means you won’t generate leads or customers. That means your redesign was, well, pretty much a waste.

    If you skip the most important part of a website redesign, your new site will do nothing for your business. Take a step back and write thorough stories for your buyer personas to inform your redesign decisions. You’ll save time and energy in the long run.

    While identifying buyer personas are definitely the first step in the website redesign process, you can’t just cross them off your list after launching your site. After the redesign launches, test its effectiveness with your target audience. We use Hotjar and CrazyEgg for heat maps to see how visitors are actually using our website. Data can help with this, but asking your current customers or potential leads for their thoughts can provide even more valuable feedback for further improving your site.

    A version of this article originally appeared on the author’s company’s blog.

    Josh Ames spends his time managing the day-to-day operations of SparkReaction, an inbound marketing agency that’s driven by creative solutions and real analytics. Between creating strategies, fine tuning tactics and diving deep into analytics, he also spends time building websites on the HubSpot COS platform.

    BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

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