In this article we explain what agencies and freelancers should keep in mind for a successful WordPress website relaunch.
In addition to creating news web projects, revising and improving existing websites, in the form of a website relaunch, represent important aspects of everyday life for agencies and freelancers. There are plenty of different reasons why your clients might want to and should revise their outdated website.
Many websites no longer meet the continuously changing technological standards or current web design trends. Effectiveness can be significantly limited due to poor usability, slow loading times or neglected SEO optimization. This can result in clients not benefitting from their online presence. The task now is to analyze the various aspects of the website in question and identify potential for improvement so you can optimally prepare and execute the relaunch.
In the following, we look at different levels that are particularly relevant for a website relaunch.
Our recommendations for your optimal relaunch
1. Prepare the website
Goals and target group
Before you start with the website relaunch, you should define precise goals with your clients. Define what you want to achieve with the relaunch so you can measure the success.
- Should the design be updated?
- Do you want to generate more traffic?
- How does the website need to be optimized for mobile devices?
- Does the website need new features?
When setting the exact goals, it's also useful to define a target group for the website. According to the well-known marketing saying, the worm has to taste good to the fish, not the fisherman, the communication, appearance and content should always be adapted to the users that visit the website. This is particularly important in the B2C business – the interaction with the end customer. Here, so-called personas are created for the target group definition, which are exemplary for potential customers and on the basis of which the buying/user behavior is analyzed. However, it's also important in B2B business to define a precise target group and to adapt the website to it.
Before you design a new website, you should make a detailed inventory of the old website. This requires a detailed analysis of the current website, taking a close look at its structure and navigation, page performance and content, and design. Together, these aspects should be consciously scrutinized critically and openly. This step will give you a clear idea of what is already working and what needs to be improved.
- Are the page structure and navigation intuitive?
- Are all pages easy to find?
- Which content is still relevant and which needs to be adapted?
With the help of analysis tools, you can analyze which content is primarily viewed and therefore particularly relevant. This content should be retained and presented more prominently. In addition, it makes sense to check whether content that isn't viewed very often can simply not be found instead of being irrelevant. The same applies to posts, images and plugins: which are still up-to-date and appropriate? Which need to be adapted or even replaced or deleted?
Also particularly important is the loading speed. It's important that the website loads quickly and is therefore easily accessible for visitors. Once again, various tools such as Google's PageSpeed Insights can be used to check the loading times. The results of the analysis can then be used to set specific tasks for development.
In addition to analyzing your own website, it's always useful to observe the competition. The SEO tool Sistrix can be helpful for this analysis. This can help you make the most important search terms in the Google ranking more transparent and thus find out what the competition is doing right. In comparison with others, the unique selling proposition (USP) of the website at hand can be better highlighted and emphasized.
Schedule and project management
After defining goals and target audience with your clients and analyzing the existing website in detail, we recommend creating a precise schedule. Good project management is the linchpin in the course of a web project. In a project plan, you define tasks, milestones, deadlines and personnel responsibilities.
It's important to allow enough time for extensive testing, change requests and a buffer for customer feedback. A precise plan will help you to keep track of everything and complete the website relaunch on time. It also enables you to provide your clients with more precise reports, give them a continuous outlook on the further course of the project, and thus improve the project's predictability for your clients.
A thorough website relaunch checklist can also help to provide additional structure to the process and ensure that all important aspects are considered during the revision. This gives you a clear orientation of what should be achieved and makes it easier to measure the success of the relaunch.
After creating the project plan, it's important to inform your clients about it in detail. The general schedule, the detailed process and the personnel responsibilities should be communicated and discussed in detail. You can also inform customers directly about what needs to be supplied. This includes texts, images and accesses.
It's essential to involve clients at the beginning in order to identify any misalignments as early as possible. This way, you can best avoid unnecessary work and delays due to different ideas or late content deliveries.
Once the tasks have been defined and the clients have been informed, there's one last step to be taken before development can begin – preparing the development environment. In order not to interrupt the current website operation and prevent loss of revenue, the development of the new website should take place on a domain set up specifically for this purpose or in a staging environment. Good web hosting providers offer corresponding development domains, the content of which can then be transferred to the original domain without any problems. This enables a smooth transition from the old to the new website without downtime.
2. Website development
Once the preparations and detailed planning are complete, it's time to start developing the new website. The following aspects are particularly important: technology, design, page structure, content in the form of text, articles and images, plugins, permalinks and SEO optimization. In the following sections, you'll learn what you need to consider in detail.
A website should be built on the latest technological standards so that it's fast and secure. So for the relaunch, you should use the latest version of the systems you use, such as the CMS. This includes the use of the latest PHP version. Likewise, the web space and database should be cleared of unnecessary content as this superfluous data could slow down the website.
Besides the website, the hosting should also meet the desired technical standards. A hosting with insufficient performance can significantly limit the loading times and performance of the website. High-quality hosting providers are usually more cost-intensive than well-known shared hosting offers, but they're worth it for a more constant and better performance as well as continuous support.
Last but not least, besides speed and security, the accessibility of a website is particularly important. On the one hand, reliable hosting can be helpful and also we recommend making sure the website is displayed correctly on different browsers. You can check this yourself by testing the website on different browsers and devices. For this purpose, modern browsers also offer developer tools with which the resolution of the website can be set responsively to test all screen sizes in the browser.
Design and page structure
The design of a website should always be based on the corporate identity (CI) of the company. In the CI, various specifications regarding logo, claim, color spectrum, typography, visual language and other design elements are defined under the corporate design, on the basis of which you develop your new web design. This should represent your client's company in the best possible way and fit perfectly to it. For example, an up-and-coming streetwear fashion label needs a more unusual and less classic design than a long-established law firm. It's therefore advisable to discuss with your clients what they value, while at the same time making sure the website is modern and appealing to the target group.
Design standards for your website relaunch
In addition to the design specifications from the respective CI, there are various design standards that should always be adhered to. These are to do with responsiveness and mobile optimization. The new website should be able to be displayed properly on a wide variety of mobile devices. For this, the design must be optimized for different screen sizes and use clear navigation elements that are intuitive to use on any device.
The website needs to be easy and intuitive to navigate not only on mobile devices. The general page structure should be designed in such a way that users immediately understand how to use it. It's also important that all pages can be found easily and that the menu presents them clearly. Too much hierarchy and nested submenus should be avoided so that the navigation remains understandable. The findings from the preliminary analysis can help identify problems with the previous page structure and adjust it accordingly.
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Even though the website is technically up-to-date and has been completely redesigned, the result cannot achieve the desired effect if the content is not optimized. A good website relaunch should therefore include content or text optimization.
Text optimization not only focuses on the structure and grammar, but above all on the relevance of the content. Texts must be kept up-to-date and information that is no longer relevant must be removed. In addition, new content can be added that contains references to new services or products that the company now offers to your customers.
Don't forget that the language of the content should also be adapted so that the target group can find itself in it. Furthermore, texts should contain relevant keywords that are important for search engines. This text optimization from the SEO point of view will be looked at in more detail in the SEO optimization section.
Optimization of the posts
If posts, for example in the form of a blog, exist on the previous website, these must also be considered in the course of content optimization. Here, it's important to check whether they are up to date, to delete them, to revise them or to publish new adapted posts.
If the relaunch isn't done in the same CMS (e.g. WordPress) as before, the posts can be exported from the previous CMS and re-imported to avoid a manual transfer. Various tools can help with this, such as WP All Import when you're working with WordPress.
Finally, the visual content of the website, such as images or videos, should be taken into consideration. Here you can check whether these have sufficient quality. Since screens nowadays have a higher resolution, outdated images might be displayed blurred and pixelated. During a relaunch, it's recommended to replace these or, when possible, process them.
In addition, the content shown in the images or videos should be up-to-date. Are the objects or technical devices shown up to date? Are the people depicted dressed and coiffed in a modern way? Appropriately modern images should be selected, recreated and integrated.
Once you've selected suitable images for the new website, you should check their compression. Since images without compression take up a lot of data, a lack of compression can have an impact on the loading times of the website. We recommended compressing both old or new images before you implement them on the website.
Plugins help to realize important functions of a website. At the same time, they contain a lot of program code that's loaded when the individual pages are called up. If too many plugins are activated, this reduces the speed and performance of the website. Therefore, based on the preparatory analysis, plugins that are no longer needed should be identified and deactivated or deleted.
New plugins should also be carefully selected. It's important to ensure that they are compatible with other plugins, that they do not require too many resources and that they are continuously developed further by developers. The rule is: the fewer, the better. We explain how you can further speed up the new WordPress website of your customers, in our article: How you can improve the loading times of your WordPress website.
Based on the URL, Google indexes all pages of a website and evaluates them. The pages identified as relevant in the analysis should therefore also be accessible on the new website under the same URL. This way, these pages are still accessible by Google and are indexed accordingly.
There are two options for pages that are no longer included on the new website after the website relaunch. First, these pages can be deleted and you can inform Google about the deletion. Secondly, it's possible to set up a redirect to another page of the new website. For this purpose, the 301 redirect code can be used. Raidboxes offers an integrated function for this in its Dashboard. In addition, there are various plugins, such as the WordPress plugin Redirect, which initiates redirects in WordPress. You can do without this plugin and step when you host the website with Raidboxes.
Search engine optimization is nowadays one of the essential tools to achieve a good ranking in the search engines. So you should make sure that the new website is SEO optimized so it will rank better in the search engines and generate more views.
An important part of this is content and text optimization from an SEO perspective. For visual content, the meta and alt tags should be checked and adjusted if necessary. These tags enable an accessible use of the website and the search engines in the thematic classification of an image. The short text of the alt tag should reflect the content of the respective image and include the keywords. For further search engine optimization of an image, the following aspects should also be considered: the file size (not too large), the file format (typical formats such as PNG, SVG, JPG or GIF) and the file name (integrate relevant keywords).
In addition to visual content, it's important to adapt the texts on the website for more conversions. For this purpose, it makes sense to formulate the texts in such a way that they appeal to both search engines and people. So, for search engine optimization, you should use specific keywords so the website appears in search results when users search for specific terms.
You can find suitable keywords that should be included in texts as well as image tags in various tools. Many of these tools are paid, but offer a variety of options and search settings. Also, a simple Google search can already give an overview of relevant keywords.
3. Tests and improvements
After the development is completed and before the website relaunch can start, we recommend a test phase to make sure that everything works properly. All important functions as well as navigation and responsiveness should be tested. Furthermore, it is recommended to test the website on different devices and browsers to make sure that the functions work properly for all users and that the design looks the same on all devices.
Relevant questions in the test phase can be:
- Is the navigation intuitive and understandable?
- Do all links work?
- Will the new pages display correctly on all devices and browsers?
- Are there still errors in the content?
- Are the plugins working properly?
- Does the website load with sufficient speed?
Testing and improvement should be done in close contact with your clients because as many people as possible should visit the website and test it thoroughly. In addition, the testing phase provides time for final adjustments and content changes before the website goes online.
4. Final Announcement and going live
If no more problems can be identified, the go-live can be planned. To this end, your clients should be informed in good time about the imminent launch of the new website. In this context, targeted promotions on the old website and additional incentives, for example in the form of a competition on the new website, are particularly suitable.
The actual publication, the go-live, should then ideally take place at a time when thereÄs not much traffic on the website. Depending on the industry, this may be in the evening or at the weekend to guarantee a smooth transition.
5. Monitoring and feedback
Once the new website has been relaunched, the work isn't finished just yet. In the first weeks and months of the launch, you and your clients should monitor performance and user activity closely.
- Is everything running? Are there any sources of error that need to be corrected?
- Can the traffic on the website increase and be raised permanently?
- Are there any subpages that are not yet performing adequately?
We also recommend regular WordPress maintenance so the new website is always protected against security gaps and hacker attacks. We explain further reasons to convince your clients of the necessity of this upkeep in our article on WordPress maintenance.
It can also be useful to obtain feedback directly from users . Surveys can be set up on the website or in the form of a newsletter, for example. Together with the findings from monitoring, further potential for improvement can thus be identified and the website can also be continuously optimized.
Conclusion to your successful website relaunch
A website relaunch is a worthwhile investment for your clients, which can help them achieve their goals and strengthen their presence in the online world. From the selection of the technical platform to the optimization of the content and the texts to the search engine optimization, there are many aspects to be considered during a website relaunch.
With the help of the tips in this article, you can ensure that you don't miss anything and that the website is relaunched successfully and satisfactorily for your clients. You can use the individual sub-items as a checklist to get a better overview and achieve an optimal result.
The more successful the website relaunch, the more satisfied your client and the more likely they are to place follow-up orders.