There’s an awful lot of website redesigning going on at the moment. Flashy banners are deleted and the comic sans font is binned. Simple, minimal designs that work quickly and efficiently are in for 2015.

This is all great news for the user as they get a better experience but there can be a few pitfalls so here’s a list of the essential things you have to get right with any website redesign.

Make It Mobile Friendly

SmartphoneThis is probably the reason you are having a redesign.

Becoming mobile friendly is essential in a world where we don’t want to wait 10 mins for the computer to boot up just to find out the latest football score.

Phones, tablets and even your fridge can display websites so its really important that your site looks good on all these devices regardless of who makes them or what size screen they have.

The best solution is to use a responsive design. This means that every page is responsive to the size of screen its displayed on. When shrunk to fit a phone it will display the navigation menu differently and automatically reduce the size of images and videos.

Google has recently sent out emails to website owners letting them know their sites are NOT mobile friendly so there’s a chance they will be introducing some sort of advanced mobile algorithm or filtering soon.

Have a word with your web developer and make sure your new website looks fantastic on all mobile devices.

Use 301 Redirects

RedirectThis really is essential. If you don’t stick to this tip you could lose all your web traffic!

When you’ve finished redesigning your website the chances are the web addresses or URL’s of each page will change. Something like this:

Old Website Page: www.yourdomain.com/products/warm-hats

New Website Page: www.yourdomain.com/hats/winter-hats

When you switch off your old website all the pages will disappear and become 404 Not Found and all the new pages will treated as such and will need to earn their place in the rankings.

One way to keep things running smoothly is to use a 301 Redirect that tells the search engines that your old page has permanently moved to the new page and to use this instead.

It also works well with your links. When anyone clicks on an old link they will automatically end up on the corresponding page of the new website. This is great for keeping referral traffic coming from blogs and social media.

Eventually you should see your old links change to the new links within the search results and fingers crossed you’ll be in the same spot in the rankings or even a little bit higher because of your great new design.

Check out my Podcast on 301 Redirects.

Make It Fast & Light

Racing FlagsPage speed is essential to any new redesign. Try and make your website fast!

With mobile becoming more important keeping the page load speed as fast as possible is important. You don’t want to be downloading huge images and complicated designs on someone’s phone. If it takes too long to load they’ll go somewhere else.

Talk to your web developer about using some type of page cache or a Content Delivery Network if you are worried about speed and make sure you use a top quality web host so the server your site sits on is working as fast as possible.

Pick the right platform

ComposeOne of the recurring issues I come across during my SEO Training is dealing with old, proprietary CMS systems that don’t offer the right amount of functionality for dealing with the modern web.

Picking the right platform to build your website on is really important. You need something that’s going to be around in 5 years, is easy to update, easy to theme and has plenty of developers working on it.

Your current web developer may go out of business, be run over by a bus(!) or move in a different direction and you want to make sure you can find a new developer quickly.

I always recommend using one of the main open source systems for your new website. Look at WordPress, Joomla and Drupal for blogs and websites and Opencart or Magento for eCommerce stores.

All of these systems have plenty of developers, plenty of plugins and extensions and offer quick ways to have a redesign. Another positive is that if you do redesign again in a couple of years you probably won’t have to worry about 301 Redirects as the URL structure will stay the same.

Full Control Over Each Page

PencilWith the web becoming a much more interactive and engaging place it’s essential that you have full control over your page.

You want to be able to set title & description tags that are different from on-page headings. Remember that titles & descriptions appear in front of people in the search listings and also when pages are shared on social media so they need to be attractive enough to be clicked on.

You also need to be able to add rich media like video, slides, audio and other interactive content without having to become a computer programmer!

Make sure your choice of CMS or shop platform gives you this control.

Get Rich Snippet Code Built In

Rich snippets are the little added extras to the search listings on the major search engines. Its things like review stars, product information or event details.

Event Snippet

By adding microdata to the code of your theme you can tell the search engines that specific areas of your website are about specific things like a product name, event date or price.

Having the code built in to your theme before you get going means that whenever you add a product, event or someone leaves a review it will be automatically coded so the search engines understand it.

Have a talk with your web developer and look at schema.org and this Google help page for more information.

Conclusion

There are many things that you need to get right with a website redesign but I think these are the essentials. Talk to your web developer and they will guide you in the right direction.

Enjoy your new website and hopefully it will help you increase your rankings and sales.

If you need your new website redesign checking out or want some guidance then get in touch about my SEO Reports or Training Days. I’m happy to spend time with you and your developer so the redesign is just right.