Ah, the website design process. If you are reading this then you must be considering your own website these days and interested in learning how to properly redesign your website so that it attracts customers and clients while growing a healthy newsletter subscribership. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to discuss this very topic at the Mid-Atlantic Podcast Conference. The topic of the talk was “10 Things To Consider When Redesigning Your Podcast Website.” If you haven't checked out MAPCON yet, it's a fantastic conference that happens each September in the Philadelphia area.
If you are looking to have your website redesigned, or if you are interested in having someone look over your current website, please don't hesitate to contact me today. I'm happy to sit down with you and help you gameplan your next big project. Don't forget to let us know that you found this blog by downloading our FREE Website Redesign Checklist today!
Download Your Free Website Redesign Checklist Today!
Paper … Not a Computer Screen creates the best websites.
One of the absolute best things you can do when going through your redesign is to simply put the computer away and take out your trusty pencil and notepad. I started using this method a few years ago and it immediately improved my final websites. To redesign your website by staring at a computer screen is simply too confining. You have a mouse, keyboard, and too many distractions to go around. However, when you take out a blank sheet of paper, you can draw, list, and dream anything you want for your project.
When you sit down with your notepad, you need to ask an important question. “What do I want my website to do?”
This single question allows you to come up with an infinite amount of answers that can then be tossed in the air during the next phases of the process. The next time you start a project, don't forget to use your trusty yellow legal pad.
Your logo should be something that you are proud of. It should stand out and speak for itself. Logos are iconic and if you close your eyes and think of every one of the major brands in the world, I'm sure you will first think of the companies logo. But, what type of logo should use?
The reality of today's social world suggests that you should be creating not 1, but 2 logos. One should be a square that can be added to your social media profiles and be minimal enough for your brand to be recognized, but bold enough to tell your story so that people know what you are all about. On the other hand, you should also have some type of rectangle logo. Traditionally, websites have a nice spot on the top left for a company logo. Traditionally, square logos don't fit the best in that space. For this reason, a nice rectangular logo that perhaps has a slogan or motto might do the trick in those situations. It also looks great to have your rectangular logo across the top of the mobile version of the website.
Take a look at your favorite sports team, restaurant, or tech company. What do their logos look like?
If your logo is your universal symbol then your website theme is the frame of your home. Your website theme gives you the foundation and structure from which you will build your brand and it should be a theme that fits your niche.
Over the last 7 years, I have bought dozens of themes for TeacherCast. In fact, at one point, TeacherCast was built on 25 (yes… you read that right). The best themes are ones that not only look great but can scale with your business. For example, perhaps you have one podcast now, but want to create a second down the road. Are you going to select a simple (free) theme, or are you going to look at having a theme that offers multiple homepages and landing pages?
Menus and Navigation
Have you ever walked into a kitchen and wanted to find where the water glasses are? You look around and you see cabinets and drawers. You then perhaps ask yourself, “Which one should I open first?”
This is a too common question when it comes to websites. You may have an awesome website with awesome content, but as the saying goes, if nobody knows where it is then it really doesn't exist.
When thinking of your website and the content that goes into it, you need to be thinking about your user, or, the total stranger who will be coming to your website looking to find answers to the questions they seek. Where will they find those answers?
When going through a website redesign, it's a great opportunity to rethink your categories and tags to create the best platform for your user. For this reason, I suggest using a ton of Post-its. Find a whiteboard or a blank wall and litter it with Post-its to find the best way to layout your content. When you think you have an answer, bring a friend or total stranger in and ask them to take a look at your Post-its. If they can't figure out how to find something they are searching for, then you might need to go back to the drawing board. Remember the tree in the woods. This same philosophy goes for your website.
If you think of your most popular and recognizable brands and when you take a look at their logos, you will quickly realize with very few exceptions that all of these great companies have a very simple and limited color pallet. I can't stress enough the importance of working with someone on creating a professional color pallet for your website. You don't want things bright and you don't want things dull … unless of course, if you are going for that sort of tone.
Your color pallet is a very special and unique part of you, your company, and your website. You should know your colors inside and out and have a HEX chart at your fingertips with exactly the correct shades for your brand.
Sidebars are one of those things that are actually artful when designed properly. Many amateur websites simply throw a ton of content up to showcase badges, events, or their calendar. When was the last time you actually studied someone's sidebar?
When choosing a theme, or going through the website redesign process, one of the questions that should come up is the ability for a website to provide users with unique content based on whatever the blog post topic is. One of the best ways to achieve this is by using multiple sidebars. For example, on TeacherCast, we have a unique sidebar for our blog content and one for each of our podcasts.
Graphics / Plugins / Webhost
One of the most important aspects of a website redesign is the minor yet extremely major decisions that you make throughout the process. Here is a brief look at three of these important speedbumps that can either speed up or slow down your website.
It's not simply important to create great looking graphics, it's important to have each and every graphic optimized and be offered at the most efficient file size and resolution.
There will always be a debate on plugins. Should your features be a part of the theme, or should they be available because of plugins? How many plugins should you have? What features can you sacrifice because a particular plugin might be slowing your website down?
I can't stress this enough. DON'T BUY CHEAP WEB HOST! Also, as equally important: ALWAYS HAVE A HOSTING PLAN THAT BACK'S UP YOUR WEBSITE AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. (rant over)
It's easy for me to recommend having your website connected to Google Analytics. The platform is amazing and FREE. However, my biggest recommendation when it comes to Google Analytics and the next two items on this list is to do your homework. To simply say that you know how many web hits you have each day is one thing. To know what to do with that data is totally different and game-changing.
If Google Analytics tells you how many people are clicking on your website, then Google Search Console will tell you where and why they are clicking on your website. Have you ever wondered what keywords your blog posts are ranking for? Google Search Console is your answer and the key to everything you do on your website.
One of the most underused free resources on the web is Google Data Studio. Essentially, Data Studio is a tool that allows you to create a customized data dashboard where you can see the entire picture of who is coming to your website.
Once you have all of the above squared away, it's now (finally) time to start thinking about your audience acquisition process. There are several great companies out there to help you build your newsletter. TeacherCast currently uses ConvertKit to distribute our weekly emails and our optins.
I add Web Content last because its clearly the most important and often the first thing on your mind when you start to conceive of your website. I'm not suggesting that you don't think about it at all until last, but I have found that once you have all of the above squared away, the content questions suddenly take care of themselves. If you start and only think about your content then you will be backtracking often after launch and will not be spending time working your website to your new audience.
Best Advice for Redesigning your Website
When it comes to your website, my best advice to you is to get help and support. Even the best website developers have other developers to bounce ideas off of. If you are looking for help, I'm happy to connect with you for a website consultation meeting to go over your current site, your podcast, or your plans for future websites.
What advice do YOU have for others reading this blog?
We would love to have you share your thoughts and website redesign stories. Please leave us a comment below and share your best practices today.