A better site experience

Your guide to tackling website redesigns

Introduction

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First impressions are everything. 

We often define our perceptions of people according to how we feel during our very first interaction. Our senses are constantly at work — tracking body language and analyzing the conversation to assess how we feel. And while there’s more to a person than what we learn and observe in a matter of seconds or minutes, humans are conditioned to make judgments or arrive at conclusions quickly.

First impressions aren’t solely reserved for human-to-human interactions. They extend into how we perceive everything — a whiff of dinner in the oven, the first few notes of a song, or the cover of a book. These first touchpoints are so crucial because they’re sticky — they’re what people remember. But how do you make something memorable?

With good design.

Good design ties everything together with intention and purpose. For composers, it’s how you string notes together to create a melody. For architects, it’s the details in a blueprint. For companies, it’s how a vision is shared with the world.

For today’s businesses, websites serve as the central nervous system of your marketing operation. It’s where your brand comes to life through design and where you can create a guided experience for visitors. It’s also your digital home, creating necessary space to connect directly with customers. 

In our extremely online world, simply having a website is no longer enough. No matter how someone ends up on your site, it should impress visitors and tell your story. It should be designed with your audience’s needs in mind; It also needs to bring your visual identity to life as your business and brand evolves — and it needs to be optimized for performance to ensure long-term success. 

But the truth is, as a company grows, your customers’ behavior often changes, too. You might find new ones or your current customers’ needs might shift, which often prompts the need for a website redesign. Businesses who are forced to deal with restrictive templates, hard-coded websites, or limited engineering resources, however, lack the flexibility and speed they need to continuously adapt and deliver relevant experiences. And if you can’t make changes or updates in near real-time, your customers will grow frustrated — and fast-moving competitors will catch their eye instead.

In order to deliver successful redesigns today, companies must find paths to better cross-departmental collaboration and trust without putting their business at risk. And with the proper tools, teams, and processes in place, businesses can start taking the legwork out of site design and maintenance and start using their websites to their full potential.

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Chapter 1

The power of defining and refining your brand presence

How organizations can forge meaningful relationships by bringing their visions to life on the web

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Perhaps Coca-Cola or Nike. Maybe Google or Apple. Just from reading these words, you’re likely visualizing a soda can or a swoosh; a rainbow Google logo or an apple with a bite missing. That’s the power of a strong brand identity — just saying a company name brings images or memories to mind.

But not every brand has the legacy advantage Nike or Apple does — decades of marketing campaigns have helped these companies plant roots deep in consumer culture. Meanwhile, today’s businesses are more competitive than ever — they race to hit the market first, activate on more channels, and figure out how to consistently (and quickly) capture consumer attention.

The ability to successfully do so starts with how you present your business to the world. This means nailing your visual designs, your messaging, and your website — which together make up your brand identity. Let’s dig a bit deeper into why organizations should carefully define and regularly refine their brand and how they can more readily bring their visions to life on the web.

The importance of strong, emotional connections

As the world has become digital-first, we’ve seen shifts in how consumers think and interact with businesses, as well. People have more options than ever at their disposal when making any given decision, whether it be the rug they purchase, the events they register for, or the project management software they onboard for their team. This plethora of options means the average person — scrolling aimlessly on their phone or researching what product, service, or solution to choose — needs to be wowed, and quickly. Meeting potential customers where they are is important groundwork that will help you effectively forge meaningful relationships with them. 

Reach your target audience

If you want your target audience to find you online, you need to have a strong search presence. Search engines essentially act as filters for the wealth of information available on the internet. They allow users to quickly and easily find information, without the need to wade through endless irrelevant web pages.

The goal of any high value Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is to establish a strong foundation for a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search, thanks to the trust and credibility of the brand and its digital properties.  

Once you drive people to your website, your ability to hold their attention is dependent on how the words on the page, the color palette, the motion, the navigation, and more come together to create an experience that resonates with them immediately. So, while your brand identity should still be an accurate reflection of your company, your values, and what you offer, it’s important to first consider your target audience to further research and refine how you portray your organization externally.


PRO TIP: Use Google Analytics to understand your audience

Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking acquisition, behavioral, and conversion data — all of which can help you get to know your audience. Here’s a quick rundown on what you can dig into with Google Analytics to achieve the most from your website data.

Demographics
  • Breaks down audiences by age, gender, language, and location, providing you with a clear snapshot of how well you’re reaching your target audience
Interests
  • Presents information about your users based on past searches and other online behavior to help you better understand unaddressed concerns your audience may have
Behavior
  • Provides a graphical representation of where users enter your site, where they go next, and where they eventually leave
Acquisition
  • Points you to where visitors find you — social media, organic search, Google Ads, or through a third-party referral — and what’s working best to bring users to your website
Conversions
  • Tracks conversions — product sign ups, downloads, contact form submissions — and allows you to set goals and monitor important data, such as product performance, transactions, and time to purchase

Connect with the digitally savvy buyer

There’s another key consideration marketing teams must consider when refining their brand identity: the reality that today’s consumers and decision-makers are more digitally savvy than ever. 

Technology is core to the customer experience, and the average consumer is spending an increasing amount of time online researching and analyzing products and services on their own. As a result, sales and marketing need to cater to this digital-first approach. In addition to building a high-functioning website, putting systems and tools in place that help identify and analyze user behavior is an essential tactic for generating brand awareness. Doing so will give teams the ability to extract rich consumer data they can use to make sophisticated business decisions and personalize more digital interactions, setting them up for long-term success. 

Organizations should also aim to educate their target audience in order to position themselves as leaders in their industry. The ability to provide real value from the very first interaction with a potential customer can be the key to creating strong, associative connections that will keep your organization top of mind.

Communicate your brand online, your way

There’s no perfect roadmap to bringing your brand identity to life on your website. It’s a delicate balance of design, content, and page structure all working together to convey your purpose and generate positive return on investment (ROI). Let’s dig into the moving parts that must come together cohesively on your site and the objectives they fulfill.

Messaging

This is the words, the voice, and the tone that tells your brand story. Everything from your tagline, your homepage headline, and the content you display throughout your site is considered messaging. You need to ensure it authentically reflects your organization’s mission and resonates with your target audience — consider this an essential part of your branding.

Visual design

The look and feel of your brand is one of the most — if not the most — important part of your brand image. This is everything from the layout of your site pages, the colors you use, the combination of fonts you employ, the illustrations or photography placed thoughtfully across your website, and more. Your designs should feel authentic to your brand but also be eye-catching — drawing site visitors in with your unique look and encouraging them to scroll and browse. For more product-driven businesses, this may mean displaying product user interfaces (UIs) front and center. For organizations providing services, displaying logos, illustrations, or photography of your team in action may be more suitable. Well-executed design requires reflecting on what you want to communicate visually to your audience, and when done well, it can become the anchor of your brand.

Interactions and navigation

To keep users engaged, it’s important to carefully design the flow of your website. This means creating moments across the site that can influence people and direct them to the content they’re looking for. Motion, interactions, and user-friendly navigation are must-have elements of a well-designed site, and they should cater to the needs of your customers while simultaneously helping you hit the mark on the performance metrics you’re chasing.

Take stock of your brand

Whether you're looking to make minor updates to your website or refresh your entire visual aesthetic, setting aside time to reflect on where your brand is and define where you want it to go is crucial for sustainable success. And setting key benchmarks and measuring performance against them can ultimately help marketing teams make more informed brand decisions.

At the end of the day, you’re not just building a brand — you’re building a legacy. And to construct a legacy, you need solid footing. Take stock of what you’re doing well and consider what you’re trying to accomplish through design — such as whether your site, messaging, and visual design cater to users’ needs. Set aside time to also assess whether your overarching brand identity is an accurate reflection of your organization’s growth. Hitting pause to look at what’s working, what’s not, and how to fix it will present your team with an invaluable opportunity to refine and evolve both your brand and your business.

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