Careful considerations when transitioning your web...

Careful considerations when transitioning your website

It’s good to revamp your website every now and then. It’s actually quite common for major brands to change their website in small ways every year or so and some even decide to do so every few months. However this is quite safe when we think about what such changes might do to our customer retention. Change is good sometimes, but not everybody reacts to it the same. A group of customers might not like what you’ve done, they might not recognize the website they know and love. This can cause their interactions with your business to slightly dip and sometimes even slump rapidly. But don’t worry because there’s a core customer group that will almost always stick around no matter what as long as the core of the website functions have not been altered. Small businesses often consider changing up their websites because well, they’re constantly changing and trying to find their brand image. Thankfully, there are some known consequences and benefits that you can reap when it comes to transitioning your website into something either totally new or substantially newer.

The elephant in the room

First off, what impacts you when you visit a website? Think about your favorite website right now and what is the first thing you notice? If you’re having trouble thinking of what this could be, ask yourself what would be the first thing you would notice if it was changed? The theme and design of course! Take for example the giant retail company House of Fraser. They run a theme that uses white, pink and black as the three main colors. The design is quite good for a multi-brand online store with everything nicely laid out. If the color scheme was suddenly blue, orange and green, you would notice right away. You might even second guess if you had clicked on the right link wouldn’t you? If the design is altered greatly, such as the main pull down tab moved from the left column to the right, again you would be confused.

The elephant in the room for a website transition is the question of what kind of brand continuity if any are you willing to keep? So many small businesses get captivated by the idea of rising like a phoenix and re imagining themselves to a totally new look. This is quite common for a failing business that is trying to rebrand and relaunch. However, if you’re not trying to rebrand, consider sticking to your theme and design but improving on it. Instead of the pink, go with a purple, instead of the white go with silver and instead of the black go with beige. Keep the theme and design relatively similar but improve, and slightly veer off. In practice, don’t take too many giant steps in this category or you will lose more customers during the transition.

The same content value

It’s not secret by now that content marketing is extremely powerful when done right. This of course means, taking your business blog seriously. It’s not just blog posts perse, but educational and interesting articles that you can publish on your website. For example, if you were a tyre company, you could write an informed article on what kinds of cars are great for driving off road. Your off road tyres could then be worked into the content seemingly unannounced. You get all your keywords in the article, as well as videos and you have a page that can rank highly on Google search results. The mistake some small business owners make during a large transition is losing interest in their content marketing section.

The importance for your SEO to continue to shine through in these content marketing pieces from essentially one place to another is crucial. The key thing to keep in mind is retaining your customers and preventing site migration. The case study there shows, how important it is to continue to create genuinely useful content. When a website is being drastically changed, any number of things can happen to make it appear further down the results. For example the website architecture might be different, the webpages might be increased or decreased, content itself might be lost, not enough keywords might be present on the targeted pages etc. The technical side of your website will have to be continually shaped to retain your pagerank. However content that reads, looks and sounds familiar will reassure your customers they are at the right place and the feel of your business hasn’t become alien.

Redirect from the old place

Pages are bound to get deleted or discarded in the transitional period. A business website has to keep everything of value closer to the front, much like you would in a retail business by showcasing your best products in the storefront window. This means some pages will be lost. That doesn’t necessarily mean that content and or page items will be lost. Your new design might just be leaner and thus you can fit more things onto your pages. Quite obviously, some pages from the old website will be left blank and no longer useful. Customers not in the know may click onto those pages and thus seen nothingness. Don’t unindex the pages and don’t delete the url just yet. Keep those old pages with nothing showing living for a while.

On the page you should have a redirect link which takes the customer to the new website and or page. Remember to be accurate with the link, don’t just link your new website but try to link the exact thing they were looking for. No doubt this will be painstaking work to do so page by page but put yourself in the customer’s’ shoes. They are searching for something they want to buy, and if they land on an empty page that’s no big deal. Yet, not being redirected to where they actually want to go will make them click away. Customer retention again, is the of the highest importance.

Keep the same categories

Despite the theme, colors, design and layout being different, a new website won’t appear so distant and strange to customers who can still easily navigate around. The UX design is therefore incredibly important. One simple way to keep a familiar handshake on your website is to retain the categories in which your products are pigeonholed in. If you sell jeans, and have always had them in a separate category, keep it that way. Don’t add them to a new category of ‘denim’ where shorts, jackets and jeans are all sub-categories. Quite simply the reason for doing this is to allow customers to still move around the website using familiar framework. Even though, there might be a brand new look they can still find the products and services they have always loved from your website.

As mentioned before, don’t take too many giant steps; especially when it comes to functionality and user experience design. Keeping the same font is a subtle way to greet the customer’s eyes with something they can easily recognize as part of your brand and business. Having the logo in the same position it’s always been is another plus. Small things like this go a long way and bypass the need to introduce yourself to your customers using other methods.

A transition for a website is a big deal, especially in this day and age where the competition is so fierce. It’s recommended to keep your passion for content marketing alive and well during this time so customers can experience the new design while being spoken to by a familiar voice. The UX design is incredibly important in customer retention, so categories, font, and logos should all be in familiar positions dotted around the overhauled website.

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