website redesignIt happens in every organization. One day you wake up and notice that your company’s website needs a major refresh. Maybe it’s because your website has looked the same for several years (Where did the time go?). Maybe it’s because your company’s just gone through a rebranding and you need the site to reflect your new positioning.  Or maybe your site is just not getting the traffic and conversions it used to.

There is always a risk/reward factor that comes with every website redesign. It’s takes a lot of effort and planning, much consensus building and no guarantees that it will improve your rankings, or lead generation.

Your website is not for you

Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that your website is not for you. It is really for your customers and prospects. If you don’t speak to them in their language and address their needs, then chances are you’re never going to achieve good conversion rates.

So who are your customers?

One way to identify them is by creating customer personas. Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on analyzed data.

The more you know about your customers and prospects, the more dimensional and useful your personas can be. In terms of data, we are talking about demographics, online behavior, primary quantitative and qualitative research if you can get it, and educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

Let’s say you are a marketing manager at a hotel and the goal of your website is to increase your reservations.  Who do you want to attract?  Your personas could be an independent business traveler, a corporate travel manager, an event planner, a vacationing family, and a couple planning their wedding reception.

Here are three ways to help build your personas:

1. Segment By Demographics

Research your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers of your products and services. Assign characteristics to these buyers – job titles, roles, types of industry, company information, and demographics. Then start grouping them, based on commonalities. You will begin to see several personas emerge.

2. Identify Their Needs

Once you organize your loose groups, look at their needs. What problems can you solve for them? What kinds of information are they most interested in? Do you see any trends emerging? Now your personas are started to get a little personality.

3. Develop Behavior-Based Profile

You have their basic information and you have identified their needs. Now it’s time to learn more about their behaviors. How do they interact online? What do they look for and how active are they in social media? When they are on your site, which of your products do they spend the most time researching? Now you can start putting a name to the personas, like Event Planner Patty, and start relating to them as human rather than names on lists.

Give your website visitors what they want

Once you’ve developed meaningful personas, you can start building pages for them, and create website content that they find relevant.

The days of the website as virtual brochure are long past. You want to drive your visitors to take an action. That could be downloading a whitepaper, requesting a demo, or buying a product.

The call-to-action is just that – the element or elements on your website that gets visitors to actually interact with your site. By providing their name, email and other contact information, an otherwise anonymous web visitor converts to a new lead or prospect.

Every page can offer the opportunity for a conversion, so when planning your redesign, make sure you are thinking how calls-to-action can or can’t be integrated on each page.

Here are some tried and true examples to connect with website visitors:

  • eBooks and whitepapers
  • Contests and promotions
  • Product purchases
  • Email newsletter subscription
  • Free trial
  • Demo
  • Assessment/consultation
  • Contact us

Make sure you give your visitors plenty to do when you redesign your site. Give them well thought-out and relevant calls-to-action so you don’t lose them. How your website looks is important. More important is how it works. When the two work hand in hand, it is a thing of beauty.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba /