Website Redesign Checklist Gloria Seo, Intern, Pomona College

Website Redesign Checklist

A website redesign is more than just updating your website or making things look prettier. A well-done website redesign can not only result in a more efficient and better-looking website, but it can also improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience. This can lead to more traffic, views, and conversions for you.

  • Define your new site’s objectives.
    • What is the current website not doing for you that you want the new website to do for you?
  • Decide on a website platform.
    • Today, we often choose WordPress websites. In most cases, they accomplish the goals of what small to medium size businesses want to accomplish, as long as it’s not retail.
  • Choose a responsive, mobile-friendly theme. 
    • You can search for WordPress themes on Google, or you can set up a GoDaddy WordPress hosting account.
      • If you purchase a deluxe or ultimate plan, GoDaddy will provide a staging website with a URL containing a series of random characters, which will enable you to try out WordPress themes with your basic content.
  • Choose whether you want to start from scratch or migrate your current site with GoDaddy.
    • If you have the URL, username, and password to your current website, you can import it into the GoDaddy staging environment and preview your content with a variety of responsive WordPress themes.
    • Note: A website migration may take up to eight hours to process.
  • Create a new style guide.
  • Redesign your website.
  • Review Google Analytics Behavior Data.
    • If you don’t have access already, you need to have access to the Google Analytics account at the admin or edit-read-analyze level for your website property.
  • Preview your redesigned website.
    • If you go to GoDaddy and choose appearance and themes, this option is available.
  • Test your website on a mobile device.
    • If you’re not getting the updated website, clear the browser history and cache.
    • If clearing the history and cache doesn’t work, try accessing the website after closing out all mobile windows.
  • Take the Think with Google mobile site speed test. Your goal is 4 seconds or less.Mobile Website Speed Test
  • Maintain and improve SEO.
    • Conduct keyword research. You can choose to use Wordtracker or SpyFu.
    • During a redesign, there is typically the concern about losing the current organic visibility in Google that results in leads and sales. You need to document your current page titles, meta descriptions, and keywords to help you figure out why you rank for the keywords you do.
    • Copy this metatag template and put in your website links, and it will collect the metatags on your site. Then, you can check your rankings manually. You’re most likely to rank for keywords found in your page titles, h1 tags, content, and URL.
      View Metatag Template
    • Or get a free Bizwatch SEO report for 10 keywords.
      Free SEO Report
    • Try to avoid changing the keywords and URLs that you rank for.
  • Maintain URL structure if possible, or set up a 301 Permanent Redirect.
    • Go to the Behavior tab on the left-hand side of Google Analytics, then the Site Content, and then Landing Pages. Choose a custom date range of the current year and export the top landing 25 (or 50 for a larger website) pages in the Landing Pages section and the top 50 pages in the All Pages section into Excel files.
    • Copy this helpful Google Sheet to document your current URLs.
    • Copy the links to the pages in the exported Excel files and paste them into the “Old URL” column of your documentation file. Those links should begin with a forward slash, /.
    • In Google Analytics, under the “Page” or “Landing Page” column, click on the icon with the two overlapping boxes with an arrow inside of them. Copy the link of the window that pops up into the “New URL” column of the corresponding “Old URL” link.
    • If some of the pop-up windows lead to a “No file input” or “Page can’t be found,” try to figure out which new page of your redesigned website the link should redirect to based on the information in the old link. Or, redirect to the home page if the content no longer exists on the new website. 
    • Share the 301 documentation with your webmaster before your new website launches so that they have time to set up the redirect. Your webmaster will most likely need FTP access and administrator access to your website hosting account.
  • Add Google Analytics code to the new website.
    • There is a WordPress plugin called Monster Insights that will install Google Analytics for you if you are the admin of that account and it can authenticate your ability to access their data with a username and password.
    • If you are not an admin, you cannot get access. Therefore, ask the client to send you the Google Analytics code and you’ll need to put it in a WordPress footer widget.
  • Create a custom 404 page that indicates you’ve redesigned your website.
    • Your theme might have a built-in way to have a message appear in the case of a 404 Error under Customize Settings and then Text Settings.
    • If your theme creates a 404 page that doesn’t look very appealing, you may choose to create a custom 404 page.
    • Have a friendly message and image for your 404 page.
    • Make sure the custom 404 page has the full navigation.
  • Launch your redesigned website
    • You’re done!

We’ve done our best to document all the steps that you’ll need to redesign your website to be more mobile-friendly, but if there’s anything that we’ve left out, please feel free to let us know in the comments below.