17 Key Ingredients for your perfect website relaunch

Have you just taken on the responsibility as a marketing manager? You might be realizing now that a website relaunch is one of the more urgent initiatives on your emerging list of strategic tasks? Or have you maybe experienced or led the last website relaunch at your company a couple of years ago? In any case, the chances are that today, you find yourself thinking about one of the following website relaunch scenarios:

  • The website has been neglected in the past years. Content is out of date, or basic technical requirements are not met. 
  • The website CMS is the end of life. It’s outdated and doesn’t live up to modern requirements anymore. 
  • The company has grown or changed otherwise, and the existing website does not fit the current situation anymore.
  • Changing market conditions and trends require the implementation of new features. It might be more cost-effective to relaunch the whole ecosystem on a robust and future proof platform instead of working with the existing technology stack.

In any case, you have taken the decision to relaunch your company’s website! Let’s have a look at all the things you need to take into consideration while creating a briefing and specifying requirements.

Website Relaunch Preparation Checklist

Here is a list of things that you should have on your radar to prepare your website relaunch.

  • Branding: Branding Book, Style Guide, Web Fonts, Iconography
  • Keyword & Content Strategy: SEO keyword mapping, information architecture (IA)
  • Concept & Wireframing: page layout incl. draft content, organize workshops with stakeholders 
  • UX & Conversion Rate Optimization: UX and CRO audit, work with a web designer with UX experience
  • Copywriting: reserve internal resources and/or budget and plan insufficient time
  • Photography: authenticity, portraits, team photos, background images
  • Illustrations: optional and expensive, reserve budget if applicable
  • Web Design: pixel-perfect mockups based on wireframes and branding inputs
  • Content Management Systems & Development: choose the right CMS, choose the right technical agency
  • Search Engine Visibility (SEO): Make sure you reach high rankings on the search engine result page (SERP) for relevant search terms
  • Translation and Multilingualism: Make sure you plan in resources for the translation of your content.
  • Conversion Tracking & Analytics: Consider web analytics so that there is no data loss after relaunch.
  • Page speed / Performance: Challenge the developers on the performance of the new website to avoid penalties from search engines and visitors.
  • Device and browser compatibility: Make sure proper cross-device and cross-browser testing has been done before launch.
  • Legal & GDPR: Make sure your privacy and data protection policies are up to date. You are in compliance with GDPR if applicable, i.e., by implementing a self-service privacy management solution on your website.
  • CRM Integration: We recommend that all your customer touchpoints on the website are forwarded to your CRM.
  • Content Migration & CMS Training: Don’t forget to plan for resources that migrate the content from the old to the new website and make sure they have received CMS training before they do.
  • Hosting, Maintenance & Security: Find out more about the Service Level Agreements that your agency offers and ensure there are nightly backups stored in a safe location (i.e., in the cloud).
  • Continuous Development: Find out more about the developer’s availability after go-live so you can continuously improve your website and adapt it to changing market trends and requirements.

The comprehensive guide to website relaunches

Branding

You only have a few seconds to “hook” your visitors. Your website should communicate a tone or feeling that represents your brand right away, piquing your potential clients’ interest in your products or services. If you plan to redesign your website, whoever executes the web design will need branding input. Do you have an existing branding book or style guide that defines photography, typography, iconography, etc., or do you need to create it anew?

Keyword & Content Strategy

Take a step back and think about what content should be on your website. What are the needs, pain points, and information needs of your target audiences? You can find out by doing market research but also by looking at existing data in Google Analytics. From an SEO perspective, you want to have a keyword strategy done. Another aspect of this is the information architecture (IA) of your website. Which pages will there be, and what’s their hierarchy? What content is on which page? Think along the lines of testimonials, services, products, projects, your team, contact, jobs, blog, landing pages. Review existing content such as the existing website, catalogs, fact sheets, and company presentations. This information is normally reflected in a sitemap, or a shortcut can be taken by creating wireframes directly.

Concept & Wireframing

Wireframes are essential. In fact, we recommend never to start with design work before the wireframes are not approved. Think about it this way: Would you ever start the interior design of your living room before there are approved plans for the whole house? Probably not. The same goes for a website. Professionals are using software such as XD, Sketch, or Figma to create simple wireframes.

Wireframes focus on making content and website functionality tangible. Wireframes are about structuring the content. Which pages harbours which content, and what’s the layout. Make sure to include the wireframes in the design briefing. It’s one of the most important sources of information for the designer!

Pro tips:

  • Make sure you involve the technical project manager from early on.
  • Good wireframes are normally heavily influenced by the marketing, sales, and product people in your company. Organize wireframing workshops with them to get to the bottom of what they think their customers need.
  • Good wireframes don’t use “Lorem Ipsum” text but contain a first draft version of the real copy. 

  • Good wireframes standardize layout components because that reduces the number of content components that later on will have to be implemented in the Content Management System. 

UX & Conversion Rate Optimisation

Set appropriate calls-to-action and optimise user experience (UX). The website can be beautiful, but if it’s not user-friendly, then what’s the point? Potential customers need to be able to clearly navigate through the website, find what they’re looking for, and have clear calls to action. If these elements are not present, you might lose your potential customers to a competitor. We are listing UX & Conversion Rate Optimisation here separate from Wireframing because you might want to task a UX / CRO specialist before, during, or after design. However, it’s generally advisable anyways to work with a web designer with good UX / CRO skills.

Copywriting

Reserve internal resources for copywriting, if necessary, or factor them into your budget. This will save you valuable time from needing to write your website content yourself. It’s recommendable to create a copywriting briefing that the voice you use is established and maintained throughout your communications. Have your site checked to avoid mistakes and/or typos – they’ll harm your brand image. 

Photography

Once you know what content you want to create, it’s time to think about photography. Most website visitors don’t know who is behind the company. High-quality photos, such as portraits and team pictures, are the best way to present your most valuable assets. The style and type of background images and other photographic design elements should be defined as well. Pro tip: Avoid stock imagery whenever possible. Instead, organizing a photoshoot might be less effort than you’d assume, and the results often are stunning. Your website will look more authentic and set itself apart from competitors.

Illustrations

Even though bespoke illustrations are often seen as an optional element, custom illustrations that adhere to your Corporate Identity / Corporate Design (CI/CD) make a huge visual difference. Illustrations are very useful to explain complicated processes and procedures. Or you may want to include illustrations instead of photos to create richer and more varied page content.

Web Design

Finally, you are ready to get the design work done! A professional web designer creates high-resolution, realistic mockups as a static image representation of the later website. These mockups must be high-fidelity; in the world of web design, it is called pixel-perfect. Pixel-perfectness means that the frontend developer will respect the mockups up to the last pixel. Make sure you involve the technical project manager from early on. Here is a good article about the finer points and caveats of handovers between web designers and front-end developers. Spoiler: it’s technical

Content Management Systems (CMS) & Development

Content Management Systems (CMS) are the backbone of any modern website. The CMS allows the technical team to focus on technical matters, and your editors can update the website content independently, as in quickly and cost-efficiently. Selecting the right CMS is a small project in itself. It’s too complex to be covered here. If you would like to know more about choosing the right CMS for your website relaunch, please get in touch with mario@what.digital.

Now, let’s build the new website! Before we start, a word of caution: Be advised that the development of the website should not start before the design is complete and fully approved. It will add some time to your total project duration, but it will reduce uncertainty and potential for frustration with your technical team.

If you hire a professional agency, their technical team knows what needs to be done. The technical project manager will introduce you to their processes, collaboration tools, and reporting and will come to you early on with any questions. Modern approaches include asynchronous communications and collaboration through a tool such as Slack, ticket and task and code management on a platform such as GitLab, GitHub, or similar and continuous deployment pipelines for demonstration of the work increments on a daily basis.

However, the following topics cover things that you should raise with your technical project manager proactively as those might not be high on their priority list.

Search engine visibility

Search engine optimization is often forgotten or tackled too late when relaunching a website. The perfect time when to do SEO is during the Keyword & Content Strategy phase. There are many SEO caveats when relaunching websites. It’s advisable to confer with an SEO specialist early on to help with the Information Architecture (IA), the content strategy, and the keyword analysis. 

During the development phase, make sure the HTML page structure is optimized for search engines. Reserve resources and anticipate title, URL, and description tags for copywriting and translation.

Pro tips:

  • Redirects should be set when going live. 
  • Check that you still have access to the search console post-launch.
  • Prepare or adapt the long-term SEO keyword strategy after the relaunch.

Multi-Language Setup & Translations

What languages will you support? You might want to set aside a budget for translations. Also, multi-language websites will require more time for the initial content editing phase. You also might want to include the secondary languages into your SEO strategy and optimise search visibility for those languages as well.

Conversion Tracking and Analytics

Think about migrating Google Analytics, setting up Google Tag Manager, defining conversion targets (e.g., whitepaper download), and briefing the developers to implement the tracking on the website. 

Performance

Page speed plays a direct role in user experience, and it’s a huge reason why people click away from slow sites. Pay special attention to page speed optimisation, including server caching, browser caching, image optimisations, frontend architecture, and other important aspects. Conduct a Google PageSpeed analysis and discuss the results with your technical project manager.

Device and browser compatibility

Define your compatibility matrix according to Google Analytics evaluations: which browsers and devices are particularly relevant? Is IE11 compatibility still necessary? Make sure you factor any needs your site may have into your budget.

Privacy/GDPR

Check you are compliant with privacy regulations and the GDPR. Have a privacy agreement on your website, and make sure you have the appropriate privacy permissions and that they are in line with the appropriate regulations.

CRM Integration

Set up Hubspot, Pipedrive, or any other CRM system, forms, and tracking. You need to keep track of customers and leads. Setting up a CRM is a great option to keep track of customer data, keep track of your leads, and remarket to customers who perhaps didn’t convert or download something from your website the first time around.

Content Migration & CMS Training

Consider the need for content management resources and factor them into your budget (either internally or externally). Once you have the content ready, you will need to upload it onto your website. It may take some time to ensure all your content is uploaded and in the right place, so make sure you leave enough time to do so. If you are unsure, ask your technical project manager for a time and resources estimate for content editing. Also, consider that your own staff might need some warm-up time to learn a new Content Management System. It is a good idea to organize training sessions with your technical project manager.

Hosting, Maintenance and Security

Ask your agency to tell you about high-performance hosting and what service level agreements (SLA) they offer, including periodic backups, response times, and availabilities. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong, leading to loss of data, with no backups available. Websites are frequently hacked, therefore make sure you include periodic security updates in your maintenance contract.

Continuous Development

As market trends change quickly and website technology evolves day by day, I recommend not to wait for improvements until the next website relaunch. Normally what happens is that after go-live, there is a backlog of nice-to-have tasks or other things that can wait until after the launch of the new website. These should be tackled one by one by the developers in a process that is called continuous development. Most importantly, make sure you have a yearly budget set aside that you can invest in improvements and adaptations of your new website.

Want to find out more?

Updating your company’s website helps you improve the experience of your users and better serve their needs. With our checklist for your perfect website relaunch, you can create a unique website that displays a new company brand or message. For more information about our Web and App development services and consultancy, send an email to Mario Colombo, Technical Lead, Partner.