(recorded January 2, 2021) - 1 hour, 20 minutes
REBUILDING YOUR WEBSITE: Now that we are at the start of a new year this is a good time to think about how your website runs and if it's time to rebuild it.
You should consider redesigning your site if you haven't changed in 2 or more years. Perhaps a good rule of thumb is to redesign your website whenever you upgrade your smartphone.
REDESIGNING FROM SCRATCH: If you like the platform you are using, then don't redesign the website from scratch. You have no way of knowing if your new design will convert as well as your old design. Of course if your old design isn't converting at all, then sure, go ahead and start over.
When you are staying on the same platform, the better idea is to change one page at a time and test it using Google Optimize, Crazy Egg, or HotJar to test the results of the page design changes. Once you see the results of the testing, you can apply the new design to the entire site.
WHAT GOES INTO A REDESIGN
1. Establish your goals
2. Look at what your competitors are doing
3. Do some research into what your customers are expecting, what do they want to see?
4. New color pallet
5. New logo
6. Do you have your own brand guidelines with fonts, colors, and how things should be positioned to one another?
7. Rethink your site structure
8. Rethink your content. What needs to be rewritten? New photography?
9. Design of the website. Notice that this is pretty far down the list even though this is the first thing that everyone seems to want to talk about.
What's that word?
—hex number - Short for "Hexadecimal Numbers," which is the designated color code to represent the same exact color, computer to computer in web programming. For example #000000 is black and #FFFFFF is white. Do note that while the color is always the same when you use the same code, the monitor or device someone uses may show subtle differences in the presentation of that color.
MOVING TO A DIFFERENT PLATFORM: Take time to consider what you will be losing and gaining when changing platforms. If you have ideas for website features you should closely examine which platforms have those desired features built-in, or available as extra plug-ins.
Some website platforms were created for a specific purpose and really excel when used for that purpose. Once you outgrow the available features you are forced to change platforms.
TECHNICAL PITFALLS WHEN REDESIGNING AND REPLATFORMING
• Question: Is there an impact on the URLs of your website when redesigning?
Answer: Most of the time there will be a major impact. As mentioned above, when you are rethinking your website structure that usually means you are also changing the file and directory structure of your site. When you change platforms you certainly will have to change the URL structure of all your pages.
Before you start your redesign process you should have your web developer spider your site to copy all the URLs. Before the new site goes live the web developer should create 301 redirects that will direct all people and search engines from the old page URLs to the new page URLs.
Your ranking in search engines will be affected when you change your URLs. If you don't implement 301 redirects it could take more than a year for search engines to fully rediscover your website.
• Question: Can a redesign or a change of platform affect the website speed?
Answer: One of the things you should be looking at during your redesign is improving your current speed. You don't want to create a slower website. You should ask your website designer to pay attention to your website speed when implementing the new site. You might also have to consider skipping some of the fancy new features that you are requesting on your site if they will actually slow down your site. One of these is the rotating image slider that is very common on many websites.
• Question: Is there a possibility that you can lose your website tracking data when redesigning your website?
Answer: Many website platforms provide their own built-in analytics. These analytics are usually good enough for the basic understanding of how your website works, but they are not as in-depth as what you can get through Google Analytics. Even though you might have tracking and analytics from your website platform, you should always install Google Analytics.
Google Analytics saves all of your historical website tracking data for many years. It doesn't matter how many times you redesign your website or change platforms, you can always refer back to your historical data and run comparison reports. On the other hand, if you only rely on the tracking data from your website platform, you will lose access to that as soon as you cancel your account.
• Question: If there a possibility that a change in your website design will cause a problem with your existing customers?
Answer: We are creatures of habit. When we find a product or brand we like we often times develop a brand loyalty to the shape, size, color, and look of a product label while forgetting the actual brand name and product name. You may have experienced this when in a grocery store and you can't find your favorite tomato sauce because the bottle and label have changed. When this happens we will often gamble on choosing another similar product; this is when one brand loses while another gains new customers.
If your website redesign is significant, especially if you are redesigning your logo at the same time, then you might want to consider putting a message on your new site that welcomes people to your newly redesigned website. It's very common for websites to be shut down and domain names to be claimed by new businesses, therefore you don't want your existing customers to see a drastically different website and think that a they are in the wrong place or that you were bought out.
• Question: Is there something specific that jewelers should do to improve their online catalog of products?
Answer: As we've mentioned in previous podcast episodes, you should include hidden coding on your website using the instructions found on schema.org. Although the instructions there are quite extensive and for use by many different online services, most of the time we just pay attention to the schema.org instructions that social networks and search engines will read. These hidden codes don't specifically improve your ranking, but they do help search engines read and digest the information you have on your page.
The featureset available on schema.org was expanded rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic to include new things that people needed to know more rapidly. One example is that now you can use schema.org tags to tell Google the cut-off time of day when a product needs to be ordered by in order to be shipped same day. This feature was implemented by schema.org and then accepted by Google in a very short time frame in 2020.
When you redesign your website you should make sure that the design and online catalog will include all the latest schema.org codes. If possible, work out a routine with your jewelry website developer to review and update this hidden code on your site on a regular basis.
OPEN SOURCE VS PROPRIETARY: Open source means you can get a free copy of the programming code that runs your website. Essentially this is the code that powers the back end of the site. Even though the code is free, it doesn't mean the website is free. Most of the time you have to pay for a developer to install the code, pay for the design or theme, and pay for all the extra features that it will take to make the site work.
There are two main reasons that you would choose a website platform that's open source. The first is that you would rather pay for all the website development up front and know that you completely own your website and all the code. The second reason is the fear that some day you will no longer be able to work with the website developer that created the site for you. Perhaps they might go out of business or perhaps you might just want to fire them.
A proprietary website platform is anything you are paying a monthly fee for. A proprietary system is usually easier to set up because most of the technical work is done for you. Some proprietary systems allow for 3rd party developers to create apps that can extend the functionality of your website. Some of these apps are free but most have their own fees which can be one-time, yearly, or monthly.
Some proprietary systems popular enough that you can hire a website designer to help you set them up and maintain them, while other proprietary systems are only managed by a single company. No matter how you look at it, if you are paying a monthly subscription, then you are using a proprietary platform.
In my experience, proprietary systems have fewer bugs and are easier to use because the company managing the back end software concentrates on making it the best it could be for the majority of its user base.