[This is the second part of a six part series on projects you should do before you commit to a redesign. To learn why redesigns are expensive and often serve the agency much better than the client, read my introduction.]
I have an assertion for all of you considering a redesign of your website:
Your website already works well in some area and you just have no idea what that is. And when you redesign your website without researching first, I guarantee you're going to destroy something you will want.
This doesn't mean that you might discover what's working on your website and then subsequently discard it after doing a cost/benefit analysis, but when you just charge into a redesign, you're not making an informed decision.
Things You're Likely To Break In Your Current Website When You Redesign
Here are some examples of ways in which a website works that you:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): You might have incredibly good ranking on a number of search terms that put you #1 in Google and bring you extremely well-performing traffic.
- Heavily linked content (related to SEO): You may have an online presence so old that enormous numbers of people have working, healthy links to your content.
- High prospect rate: Your website may have a design that refers people effectively to the donate page (or your main ask page, whatever it is). When you redesign, that rate may drop and so will your donations.
- Low abandonment rate: Your donate page may have extremely low abandonment rate, such that most of the people that get there also complete your ask.
- Domain authority (related to SEO) : You may have a very old domain with a high Domain Authority. Without knowing it, this could be contributing to high Google rankings.
- Existing pro-bono campaigns: You may have existing campaigns, perhaps through the AdCouncil or others, that are sending traffic to specific pages on your site. If you change your content or domain, you may cause those campaigns to cease functioning.
- Ease of use (usability): Your user base may find it easy to find things, and your navigation may be natural. But if you re-organize without proper research, you could make it hard for your current audience to find the same things, or even make it worse.
If you redesign your website without checking any of these first, you are almost guaranteed to destroy something of value. It's critical to actually understand what part of a website is working before you undertake a redesign. The above six items can be checked with the help of a research expert well-versed in the area of web analytics and search engine optimization through a combination of Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and various SEO tools.
Learn What The Users Are Doing And Avoid Breaking What Works On Your Website In A Redesign
In preparation for a redesign, you should research the following things:
- Your Google juice: What links do you have into you from elsewhere? What content you've forgotten about that people like? What terms are you ranking on? How authoritative is your domain name?
- Your conversion performance: How often do people start to donate? How often do they finish? You need to know this, because if your redesign makes your performance worse, you need to revert to early ones or incorporate previous insights.
For your Google rank, you're going to either take a crash course in Search Engine Optimization or hire a guru that can help you assess your current performance.
To measure your donation prospecting and donation completion performance, you can probably do this yourself with a copy of my ebook "3 Fundraising Metrics For Your Nonprofit Website". I've attached the form below.