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PHOTO: Michael

The top three reasons visitors leave your site, according to a website design study by GoodFirms, are slow loading speeds, a lack of mobile responsiveness and bad navigation. That means visitors want responsive design, simple and user-friendly navigation and fast-loading web pages, according to GoodFirms’ researchers.

Chances are you’ve done a website redesign. However, it’s hardly something you can set and forget. In order to keep your visitors around with engaging content and strong-performing web pages, we’ve come up with a checklist for things that pop up and should be on your radar post-launch.

Refresh Content Consistently

Refreshing content is an often overlooked venture, but it is very important and needs to be done. Picture this all-too familiar scenario: It made sense when you launched, but the market has evolved and your content no longer reflects who your company is today. 

Avi Pollock, president of Grapevine6, pointed this out because it happens in many ways: product positioning changes, target market changes, competition catches up and your differentiation is no longer so different, old white papers and resources make you sound outdated. “Bottom line: what you are saying is irrelevant to your audience, which erodes engagement and trust,” Pollock said.

Related Article: 7 Things to Consider Before a Website Redesign

Allocate Budgets From the Get-Go

Secure resources and budgets to update your site, Pollock added. “The biggest mistake companies make,” he said, “is treating a website project like a one-and-done initiative. When requesting a budget for your redesign obtain enough for the initial redesign plus regular content reviews/changes.” 

Ensure Strong Search Visibility

Sounds like no-brainer, but there can be missteps in the search department. If you have a WordPress website, for instance, be sure to "uncheck" the function of disabling search engines from viewing the site, said Victor Thomas, owner of Thomas Digital. Typically when a WordPress website is in development, there is a function to keep search engines from indexing it. What often happens is when the developer launches the new website, they forget to "uncheck" that de-indexing function, which then “de-indexes” your site from Google and kills all of your search ranking. 

To solve this problem, be sure to go to Dashboard > Setting > Reading, and "uncheck" the little box that says, "Discourage search engines from indexing this website." Don't forget to click save.

Related Article: 8 Things to Incorporate Into Your Website Redesign Process

De-Index Your Old Site

In the spirit of indexing sites, often when a new website gets launched, the developer will archive your old website for you, which can be convenient. “But what you might not realize,” Thomas said, “is that old website is usually still being indexed by Google. So if someone does a Google search of your company name, they can often find your old website. To avoid this, be sure to have your developer de-index your old website.” According to Thomas, this can be done by adding a single line of code on the robots.txt file: 

<meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow">

Get Intimate With CMS, Plugins, Themes, Security

If working with an outside developer, website owners should request a list of the type of CMS, plugins and themes the developer used to build and design their site and regularly monitor them, said Monique Becenti, product and channel specialist at SiteLock. “Since outdated core software, plugins and themes often lead to vulnerabilities, site owners should regularly update these features to avoid website compromises,” she said.

Further, be proactive about security by using an automated website scanner that can alert website owners if vulnerabilities are identified, so they can take immediate action.

Related Article: 1.75B Reasons You Should Redesign Your Website 

Give Love to All Browsers and Devices

Because there are so many browser options out there, such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., it's very difficult to test a brand new website across all of the different browsers and devices, according to Thomas. The website might look perfect on a 16" Macbook Pro on Chrome, but it might have some glaring issues on a widescreen monitor on Safari. “To solve this problem, be sure to use cross-browser tools such as BrowserStack,” he said. “Also, before the site is launched, send the test link to as many trusted people as you can and ask them for feedback on any bugs they may see. This will give you a broader view of how your website displays to other people.”

Listen to Your Employees, Customers

The best resources to support your content strategy could be your employees, so give them a voice, Pollock said. “Your sales teams work with prospects and clients every day and understand the product and value propositions that best resonate with these audiences,” Pollock said. “Customer service teams are on the front line every day dealing with client issues and understand what support they require. Your internal strategy and investor relations teams hear concerns and market insights that shape how your company positions itself and how you differentiate from your competition. Marketing understands the brand promise your company needs to reflect. HR knows how to attract talent and make you an employer of choice.” Engaging these diverse groups on an ongoing basis through a monthly steering committee ensures your website content reflects who you are now, according to Pollock.

It's also important to routinely ask clients and prospects what they want from your site. Form focus groups with the real stakeholders for which your website is designed. Create an advisory group that meets regularly to provide input on different content elements of your site, Pollock added.

Check For Broken Links

When you redesign your website, you often end up adding or removing pages, which can cause broken links. “If a website was previously linking to you and that link becomes broken, you lose precious Google Juice, which is something you definitely don't want to happen,” Thomas said. 

To avoid this, do a broken link search on your new website. You can do this via a broken link checker tool, such as Online Broken Link Checker. Once you've identified the broken links, be sure to set up 301 redirects from the old broken links to the new relevant links. On a WordPress website, you can use the Redirection plugin. “If you have too many links to redirect, you can have all broken links redirect to your homepage which will help you save your precious Google Juice. To do this, just use the Link Juice Keeper plugin.”

Conclusion: Website Redesign Is Not One-and-Done

The biggest issue with website redesign projects is they are treated as finite initiatives with a start and an end, said Pollock. “The big reveal happens on launch day with nothing touched again until the next big relaunch two years later,” he said. “Your business is changing continually, but your face to the world — i.e. website content — doesn’t keep up.”