5 things to think about if you’re planning a website refresh

Over the last few weeks we’ve seen a massive surge in enquiries for website copy. It seems that lockdown has been the perfect time for businesses to take stock and look at projects that have been shoved down the to-do list for too long. And refreshing websites is now a priority, as all of us are doing more business online than ever before. 

Your website is your 24-7 brand ambassador, a place where people can find out who you are, what you do or sell, how you work, what your values are, whether you’re any good and a whole host of other things. But sadly, too many websites are built with enthusiasm and then left to gather virtual dust.

If you’re not sure whether yours is working hard enough for you right now, check out this post on 5 things that are making your website look outdated. You might also want to walk yourself through each page using our free Website Audit Guide.

But if you’re already convinced that it’s time for a refresh, here are some things to think about before you get started.

How has your audience changed?

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that we always start with your audience. They’re the people who really matter – after all, one way or another it’s their money that keeps you in business, right?

So think about how they might have changed. It could be that as a business you’ve grown and evolved and are now serving a slightly different group of people than you were before. Your website visuals and copy needs to reflect this. 

Or perhaps you’ve got the same audience but they have different needs now. For example, many retailers have had to quickly improve their e-commerce offering since lockdown started. Physical stores may be reopening slowly but a lot of people will have become used to online shopping since March and won’t want to go back to the old ways of doing things.

How has your offering changed?

Something else that might have changed is what you actually do or sell, how you deliver this or where you want the focus to be. Perhaps you started out offering a range of services but as you’ve grown you’ve decided to narrow your focus and specialise. Or you used to sell a set range of products but now you’re taking bespoke orders.

Whatever the case, you need to update your content so that your audience has a clear and current picture of how they can do business with you.

As an example, our first website spoke solely about the different types of copywriting services we offer – everything from LinkedIn profiles to website copy, video scripts to blogging. In the second iteration we decided to be more focused and concentrate on some of the core services, creating separate service pages for each.

Today we categorise our services into three main segments – content creation, consultancy and training – to showcase a broader range of services that reflect both where we are and what our audience wants right now.

What is the reason for your refresh?

The first two points may well be reason enough – your audience and / or your offering has changed, and therefore you need to refresh your website. But take some time to think more deeply about why you want to make changes.

For example, is it just about your website or is it more about your brand as a whole? In which case, you might need to do a brand refresh at the same time, evolving or redoing your logo, colour palette, fonts, tone of voice and so on before filtering this through onto your website.

Or do you want to sell directly through your website, rather than having people get in touch? That means you’ll have to have strong sales or landing pages, with copy that works really hard for you. And you’ll need to think about the mechanisms of how people book or buy online, if you haven’t already got this in place.

What additional functionality can you include?

Technology changes quickly, which means it’s likely your website could be doing more than it is right now. While we’d never recommend getting flashy for no reason, it doesn’t hurt to surprise and delight your audience with appropriate new features.

For example, we’ve had lots of people comment on how much they like the way our strapline is animated on our homepage. It’s a simple technique but it grabs people’s attention and helps them engage with a key message that resonates with their goals.

But functionality isn’t always front and centre like that. You might want to link your site to a new payment platform, CRM or email provider. Whatever the case, make sure you include this in your wishlist when commissioning about your website refresh.

How can you future proof your website?

Ideally, you don’t want to have to do a full website refresh (as opposed to little tweaks) too often. After all, if you do it properly it will take an investment of time, effort and budget. So when you’re planning your refresh, don’t just consider what needs to be updated to make it work today. Think longer term.

For example, if you’re a services business but you’re planning on putting together a number of pre-specified packages that people can effectively buy online, you’ll need e-commerce functionality. Make sure your site can support that, even if you’re not ready to go live with the offering yet.

Your design should be flexible enough to add new team members to the About page or tweak the services without endlessly needing to go back to your designer and spend more money. Ask your designer to build this in at the beginning to save time and effort later on.

Whatever your reason for refreshing your website – whether you’re pivoting your business, trying to engage with a new audience or just wanting to make it feel more up-to-date – make sure you think through all these aspects first. That way you’ll be clear on what the refresh needs to accomplish and hopefully you won’t have to do another one for a good while.

Not sure whether your website copy is actually doing what it’s supposed to? Grab your copy of our popular cheat sheet, packed full of proven advice to get the words on your website working harder for you.

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