Every now and again, your website needs a refresh. This is true whether you are rebranding, you’re moving to a new Content Management System (CMS), your site isn’t getting the results you like, or worse, your site was built in 2000 (gulp).

Looking down the barrel of a website redesign can be a frightening thought. Many clients cringe when I propose such a grandiose idea. However, eventually there comes a time when you’ve exhausted your possibilities and tweaked all you can. Radical redesigns are a great way to transform your site into a beautiful new butterfly.

The difference between a successful website and a terrible failure is preparation. And what better way to prepare that to have a checklist? Whether you are working with an agency or a freelance designer, or taking on the redesign yourself, this checklist will save you from some headaches down the road.

The following steps will turn your website into an inbound marketing machine for long-term success.


1. Benchmark your current metrics

Before you dream up all those bells and whistles or elements you liked about those other websites, you must document your current performance metrics. Start analyzing your current site, including:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors/bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Total amount of sales generated

If you do not have access to this information, I recommend adding Google Analytics to your site for better tracking and visibility into site performance.


2. Determine your goals

Be as clear as possible about why you’re doing the redesign in the first place and tie it to measurable results. Communication between your team and your designer or agency is key at this juncture. Consider the following objectives for your website:

  • Number of visits/visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on site
  • Domain authority
  • Number of new leads/form submissions
  • Total sales generated
  • Current SEO rankings for important keywords


3. Avoid Pitfalls. Review your assets.

While a redesign may be absolutely necessary for you at this time, you may be hurting yourself by eliminating a lot of your assets that you have built up. These assets may include:

  • Most shared or viewed content
  • Most trafficked pages
  • Best performing keywords you rank for & associated pages
  • Number of inbound links to individual pages

Speaking from experience – keep in mind that many web designers don’t consider this step because they are not marketers. Removing a page on your current site that has a higher number of inbound links could lose a lot of SEO cred, which will decrease keyword rankings.


4. Analyze your Competition

Stealing like an artist doesn’t have to be an obsession, but knowing a bit about your competitors will help you compare where you are currently. The following steps will help:

  1. Run your website through Marketing Grader to get a report card of how your website and marketing is performing.
  2. Next, run each competitor’s site through the same Marketing Grader so you are aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Take a look at their websites, and note what you do and do not like. Avoid copying them completely, but rather review and uncover what you can do better.

After you run your reports, put together an action list of areas you can improve and what you can do differently than your competitors.


5. Design your site around personas

Your website is not all about you. I repeat. Your website is not all about you. Consider yourself a customer and ask “what’s in it for me?”Speak to them in their language by designing content around your buyers’ personas.

A buyer persona is where you slice your marketplace into individual groups of people. They are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior.

For instance, if you are a marketing manager for an embroidery business that is looking to attract new business, you might target 4 buyer personas: an independent shopper, a corporate business, a small mom & pop business, and a hobby embroidery enthusiast.


6. Optimize site for search

Getting found online is essential to improving your site metrics. With no one coming to your site, you can lose leads, downloads and sales.

Try these few tips to integrate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into your site:

Document your most search valued pages
As mentioned in tip #3, know what pages have the strongest SEO status, the most traffic, the most inbound links, and the best keyword rankings. Create proper 301 redirects if you plan on moving those high-ranking pages so you don’t lose any of that value.

Create a 301 redirect strategy
Maybe the most important step in terms of retaining traffic and rankings. Create a simple spreadsheet to record and map out all your 301 redirects you want to keep.

Keyword research
For every page, pick one to three keywords that the page will focus on. Use SEO tactics such as internal links and optimizing your header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) to focus on those keywords and pepper them throughout your page.


7. Identify Calls to Action

Calls to Action, commonly referred to as CTAs, are elements on your website that drive visitors to an action, whether it’s a whitepaper download, a redirect to a landing page signup offer, or to contact sales. Your website should prompt visitors to do something that further engages them with your brand.

When planning a redesign, think about all the potential opportunities for conversion. For example:

  • Ebooks and whitepapers
  • Email newsletter subscription signup
  • Free trial
  • Product purchase
  • Contests and promotions
  • Contact us

Remember to focus on functionality over design. Make sure you have plenty of CTAs so your visitors don’t lose interest or get lost when they get to your site.


8. Don’t forget the extras!

Any website built today should include the following basics: a homepage, product pages, industry resources, and a contact us/about us page. However, going beyond the basics can really make your site shine:

A blog or “news” section is a great way to create content on an ongoing basis, as well as to converse with your customers and new prospects. Keep your topics relevant to your site, but a “fun” post about your weekend or goings-on shows you are human… just keep it PG or in line with your buyer personas.

Add RSS / Email Subscription
RSS or an email subscription signup form allows blog posts from your website to be automatically pushed out to other website and people, increasing the reach of your content.

Add social media icons/links to all your pages. Typically, you should put these in the header or footer or both places on your website. Check out tools like ShareThis or JetPack if you are building your site on a WordPress platform.

Insight is everything for a marketer. Use Google Analytics to gain a better picture of your website performance.



A successful website redesign starts well before the actual “design” even begins. It’s easy to get caught up in how the website will look and this focus overshadows how well it will work.

As a designer first, developer second, I have to constantly remind clients that content is king. Design is the castle to house that king.

Following this checklist will help you better prepare for your website redesign and have you focusing on the important building blocks that make a website redesign a success.