Did your Website Design Company produce results?
While it is great that you have a new and much better looking website, is it producing in the way you expected? Sometimes business owners are so happy that their site has been overhauled and updated to provide a fresh, clean look, but did your website design company produce results? At the end of the day just having your site looking better is simply not as important as your new site performing better.
So how do you know if the site performs better?
To be honest, this has always been a difficult topic to tackle. Most people want to believe that the firm they hired to do a specific job has completed that job in a satisfactory manner. If they find out that is not the case there is often emotions attached to the response such as anger, outrage, or even embarrassment because of feeling duped.
That is why in some cases a business will just “deal with it” rather than investigating it which might lead to conflict, something many people either simply don’t have the time to deal with or desire to. But let’s be honest; that simply isn’t good business.
You should instead be actively reviewing your site from Day One of a re-launch to make sure that you not only are getting what you paid for, but also that your business isn’t in a worse position than it was before regardless of how nicely it is dressed up.
Making use of Analytics
Examining data from your website prior to the re-design is an important step in the process. Google analytics is an excellent free tool you can use. Ideally you have your data available because the company you hired used it to help in the design process to not only shore up existing weaknesses but also to amplify your strengths.
That data also provides a solid analytical baseline of expectations for the new site in that it should perform better in key metrics than it does now based off your business goals.
If you haven’t kept track of things as well as you should, it’s not the end of the world as you can still track how you are currently doing and often you can use historical data found in your benchmark reports.
- Track from Day 1 – Ideally you want to start tracking data from the first day of the re-launch which will allow you to establish your baseline. If you have prior statistics then you can make a quick comparison, but remember that you won’t always see an instantaneous bump. After about a month it will be time to review the overall analytics and identify issues and problems along with getting a better picture of “Before and After”.
- Metrics to Track – These are all vital data points you should be charting to measure success: Visitors, Visitors-to-leads, Time on site, Bounce rate, Average page views per visit, 404 errors, Qualified leads, Keyword analysis, New subscribers for blogs/newsletter/etc, Social metrics, Conversions, Backlinks, and Website speed. There is a host of other good metrics to track, but these are basics that should apply to most every business.
- Use Heat Mapping – Ideally you should set up heat mapping after you site has been live for about a week. The time delay is to offset the initial user-testing time period, which is called UAT, where people click on everything just to figure out where things have moved to. With heat mapping you can see where people generally click which indicates where their attention is drawn too. Designers can only guess at user behavior whereas the heat map pinpoints it which can be surprising when people go where you didn’t expect them to.
An important thing to consider is how your site normally performs in relation to the data you are viewing. For example, if your business is strongest in the Fall and Winter seasons then you need to make sure you aren’t comparing your February data to April since that is an apples to oranges scenario.
Compare the Data
What is a reasonable drop off when you re-design your website? Typically sites will see traffic drop about 5-8% on average for a short period. This initial drop is considered acceptable as your site gets crawled and rankings adjust slightly based on changes made. More than that is definitely a problem which should be immediately addressed by looking at common problem areas.
Common Problem Areas:
- Redirects – This can be a problem when redirects are not completed properly. They not only send users to the new pages but also notify a search engine to rank the new page instead of the old one. If you are using WordPress you are in luck as they have a useful Redirection plugin.
- Deleted Pages – Sometimes when pages are removed a content gap can be created which in turn can affect rankings.
- Copy Changes – When you change your copy, which happens often with a new site design, there is a risk of rankings loss because Google and other engines need to then re-evaluate the relevancy of the page in regards to the topic.
- New Architecture – If you have made a large overhaul to the style and structure of your site there can be growing pains as people re-learn how to navigate the site. Additionally Google has a method to ranking and page values can be reduced which lowers their score in search engine rankings.
- Robots.txt File – If this file is not updated correctly it can prevent your site from being crawled which obviously impairs your ranking ability.
In some cases if your website is underperforming it is due to correctable mistakes that are somewhat common for a new launch.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that when you pay a lot of money for a website re-design you should make sure that your Website Design Company produced results. The best way to do that is by analyzing your website data and comparing key metrics before and after the change. While some drop off can be expected, if your overall numbers are lower after making the minor tweaks and adjustments during the first month, then the reason for the decline is most likely that the company didn’t produce the results they said they would.
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