Entries Tagged 'marketing' ↓

A Checklist for Website Redesign

Redesigning a website can be a lengthy, complicated process. Done properly, it can give a dramatic boost you your online presence. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure, and pain, of being a part of several redesign projects.

Here is a checklist for website redesign, a series of steps that developers will go through in a successful redesign project.

  1. Document the reasons you’re redesigning the website.
    Having these listed will act as a compass through the lengthy project. When things get stressful, you’ll want this reminder.
  2. Test the old site, e.g. with an online intercept survey.
    How easily can users find key parts of the site? Other testing methods include focus groups and eye tracking. For the survey, get enough data to make it statistically relevant. The qualitative, descriptive feedback from one-on-one sessions with customers is also very valuable.
  3. Conduct a baseline analysis of the old site.
    A baseline analysis is a document which sets the bar by which the future site will be measured. It should detail how the old site has performed over the past year, including key performance indicators like visitors, bounce rate, conversion rates, pages/visit, etc.
  4. Set targets for the new site.
    These should be actual numbers and be based on the baseline mentioned above.
  5. Hire a design company.
    Choose a company which has experience in your industry and has demonstrated success in the past. Do they ask you the right questions? Do they understand your customer? Do they deliver on budget and on schedule?
  6. Map out the new site’s architecture.
    Work on a whiteboard or a blank piece of paper. Use one box per web page, starting with the home page on top. Draw lines between the pages to show logical connections. An alternative process, called Card Sorting, starts with cue cards. Create one cue card per web page, lay them out on a large table and start grouping and arranging them.
    When mapping out the architecture, remember to keep the site compact, i.e. don’t create too many levels. This is bad for usability and bad for search engine optimization.
  7. Do keyword research.
    Consider words being used by your customers, at conferences, etc. Take a look at your old site’s analytics to determine which keywords have been bringing traffic from the search engines, especially traffic that converts into real business. Also consider third party tools like Google’s Search-based keyword tool, Seo Book’s Keyword Suggestion Tool. And don’t forget Google Trends.
    How long should your keyword list be? That depends on your business model. But in most circumstances, a list of 20-30 is a great start.
  8. Audit all of your existing online collateral.
    This includes all old and existing web pages, online brochures, podcasts, etc. Make a list in Excel and leave a couple of columns for notes and an instructions, e.g. ‘keep’, ‘keep but edit’, or ‘throw away’. B2B sites should also make room for columns to describe the type of buyer that web page appeals to, e.g. technical buyer, economic buyer, and when in the buying process that web page would best be viewed, i.e. Phase I: Awareness of Problem, Phase II: Researching a Solution, etc.
  9. Write content for the new site.
    Each page should have a clear purpose, give an opportunity to continue, and be optimized for 1-2 keywords identified in number 7 above.
  10. Create wireframes, mock-ups, etc.
    Carried out for the most part by your design company, this is where your combined knowledge of the target market turns into a creative and user friendly design which works.  Have the design company give you at least a couple of unique designs for the home page to choose from.
  11. Test the mock-ups for usability.
    Let some customers loose on these mock-ups. The pages only need minor functionality for now, e.g. be able to click on a couple of key areas. Make note of how easily and quickly key parts can be found.
  12. Fix, adjust and iterate
    Based on the results of your tests, iterate until you have a design which you can live with for the next 2 – 3 years.
  13. Build out and populate pages.
    A lot of this may be handled by the web design company. Take all of the freshly written content and place it in the built pages. When choosing file and folder names for pages, consider using the keywords you identified in the keyword research stage above.
  14. Organic optimization (SEO)
    You’ve already written the content and used the right keywords. Now is the time to take it further by ensuring that each page’s title, description and header tags do the same. Include links between pages. Interlinking is great for usability and great for search engine spiderability.
    Don’t forget to create a sitemap. There are two types of sitemaps, one which is on your site and visible to the user, and one which is visible only to the search engines (an XML Sitemap).
    And, don’t forget inbound links coming to some of the old site’s pages. Put a redirect in place for each of those so the new visitors, and link power, know where to go.
  15. Testing. Try to break it before the site is launched.
    Get a large group of people you trust to poke around, find broken links, etc. Use various browsers, operating systems, look at it on a smart phone.
  16. Add tracking code to each web page.
    This will ensure you can measure what’s happening with the new site. For tracking software like Google Analytics, it will be a fairly easy process, i.e. same tracking code on each page which can be applied in the footer.
  17. Launch day. Flick the switch, uncork the champagne.
    Don’t forget to take a screen shot of the old site.
  18. Post-launch monitoring
    Make a schedule and force yourself to note the key stats at regular intervals after the site is launched. For the first few days, do it every day. After that, weekly. If you have budget, do a second intercept survey (see #2 above).
  19. Take the time to create a Content Development / Maintenance plan.
    Use a calendar and map out when you’ll be adding new content. How often will the ‘latest events’ section be updated? Who will update it? When will you review the product descriptions? Or case studies?
  20. Keep a journal of this whole process

Bill Gates’ New Website and a Free Lesson in SEO

You’ve got to hand it to Danny Sullivan. Earlier yesterday, he wrote a blog post which scolds Bill Gates’ new website from an SEO perspective. For online marketers, it’s a fantastic lesson in SEO 101. For Bill Gates, a reason to smile, blush, or point a finger. You be the judge.

In case you hadn’t heard, or seen, Bill Gates launched his own website last week called The Gates Notes. Bill Gates’ new website allows you to “stay up to date on where Bill is at, what Bill is learning and what is on his mind.” The Twittersphere welcomed Bill Gates last week as well. In case you’re not following him, Bill Gates’ Twitter username is, unsurprisingly, @billgates.

So back to Danny Sullivan’s critique of The Gates Notes. Danny starts off by showing the Search Results Page for the query ‘bill gates blog’. The results show his blog listed in the top 10 in Google, but being outranked by some fake Bill Gates blogs. Interestingly, in Bing, his new blog didn’t show up at all in the top 10.

The blog post proceeds with a well-laid-out walk through SEO 101. And the example he uses happens to be the founder of Microsoft, the world’s second richest man who has just started blogging and tweeting. It points out the importance of:

– relevant title tags
– description tags
– unique title tags for each web page
– the power of inbound links, even from Twitter

I’ve just taken a look at The Gates Notes site and it looks like some changes have already been made to the Bill Gates site. Back on his blog post, Danny Sullivan is taking some heat, but also a lot of well deserved praise in the comments section. And it looks like Bill reached out to him on Twitter as well:

Bill Gates Twitter reply to Danny Sullivan

Bill Gates Twitter reply to Danny Sullivan

To read the original blog post, an SEO analysis of Bill Gates’ new website, visit: http://searchengineland.com/some-seo-advice-for-bill-gates-34303.

Top 5 April Fools Jokes Courtesy of Google

It’s that time of year again when offices around the world brace for the worst, the most creative, and most daring ideas to surface in what is known as April Fools.

Search engine company Google hasn’t shied away from the fun over the past few years, and has even used the April 1 date to launch new products, for example, Gmail in 2004. As it turned out, the story of a free email provider providing a whole Gigabyte of storage was unheard of in the day, and spread like an April Fools joke.

Here I’d like to share my five favorite Google April Fools Jokes:

1. Project Virgle
The Adventure of Many Lifetimes, inviting participants to enter and qualify for an epic journey to Mars. This actually was a collaboration between Sir Richard Branson (Virgin) and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, hence the name Virgle. I came across this by accident several months after April Fools, and seeing Richard Brandson talk about out-of-this-world plans for Virgin seemed quite plausible. They had me going for a while.


2. AdSense for Conversations
AdSense for Conversations promises to be a new type of monetization solution that “puts the ‘context’ in contextual advertising”. An interface attaches to the head of a speaker and lists ads related to what is being spoken about. As a recommendation for untargeted ads, it recommends rambling.

3. Gmail Custom Time
Be on Time, Every Time.
This innovative Gmail feature allows users to back-date the send time and date on an email, ultimately eliminating the concept of being late. It utilizes an e-flux capacitor to luckily work around the issues of causality. Unfortunately the use of this tool is limited to 10 per user per year.

4. Google Romance
Dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google Romance.
If you choose the Contextual Dating option, be prepared to deal with thematically appropriate multimedia advertising throughout the entirety of your free date.

5. Rick Roll’d
Rick Astley’s video of his 80’s hit single Never Gonna Give You UP was the unintentional destination for many YouTube visitors on April Fools 2008. When clicking on any Featured Video on the YouTube homepage, users were taken to the music video in a practice which has since become widely known as being Rick Rolled or Rick Roll’d.

I’d like to give special mention to Google Gravity from the Chrome Experiments Group. Although this wasn’t an April Fools joke, it is a whole lot of fun. You can try the page for yourself, and it is best viewed in – you guessed it – Google Chrome. It actually is an impressive display of Chrome’s ability to process Javascript at speeds way above other browsers.

For your further amusement, here is a complete listing of Google hoaxes over the years on Wikipedia.