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Important Considerations When Designing a New Website

     -     Feb 23rd, 2015   -     Accounting Marketing, Accounting Websites, Creative Design   -     0 Comments

As the marketing director of your firm, you’ve just been given approval to move forward with the task of redesigning your firm’s current website – score marketing department! This is an incredible and exciting opportunity to be a part of and your chance to create new solutions that can generate new business. You’re getting a blank canvas to which you can easily add your own creativity and flair and it’s tempting to get carried away.
Before embarking on this creative journey, consider that your firm’s website is often the first factor that influences how clients and prospects feel about your business. In fact, recent research supports that 97% of consumers use online media to aid in their purchasing decisions. That’s a pretty impressive statistic.

While a well designed website should assure every online visitor they’re about to have an enjoyable experience the moment they land on your site – it needs to be done correctly. Good web design leads the visitor out of the unknown and into the known, providing knowledge about, as well as access to, a solution that meets their needs – in this case, accounting.

Ultimately what will govern the success or failure of the new site is beyond a great looking design – that’s a given. Traffic, conversions, and functionality are what will determine the fate of the new website. Having stated this, below are five important considerations to think about before embarking on the creative journey.

1. Website Structure

A redesign isn’t simply a chance to give your firm’s website a fresh look. It also gives you the opportunity to reorganize the way your firm’s website is structured. Your first priority should be analyzing the effectiveness of the current site. Doing this ensures that the architecture of the future site gets set up for optimal visibility and conversions. Use the below thoughts to help you accomplish this:

  • Which pages convert the best?
  • What’s the most common route through your website?
  • Do some pages have a high bounce rate?

Additionally, devices beyond desktop computers should be considered. This includes mobile phones, tablets and alternative devices. More and more, responsive design is the way to go.

In short, responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). You can read more about RWD by clicking here.

2. Navigation

Another important factor to consider is, how easy is your site to navigate – by both human visitors and search engine spiders? The answer will have a significant effect on the visibility and success of the new website. Examine site structure from two different standpoints as follows:

  • How are people going to find your site? This is where you need to be thinking about your URL structure. Can it be shortened? Are there a lot of unnecessary characters? Does the URL give pride of place to the term you’d most like that page to rank well for?A redesign gives you the chance to give your entire URL structure a reshuffle and cut away any dead wood that may have developed as part of your existing site’s development. Your new URL structure and sitemap should make it easy for search engines to see what each page is about and make sure that you’re using the most important terms for each of your campaigns.
  • How will human visitors navigate the site? Which pages have you identified as your primary entry points? What action do you want visitors to take on each of these pages? What journey will they need to take in order to take that desired action? Can you do anything to shorten this journey or increase conversions?By taking an informed, data-driven look at your existing site structure and optimizing it in line with your new site’s primary objectives, you have a chance to drastically improve the performance of your site.

3. Where does content fit in?

Most marketing directors know that content is king and is the most important aspect of any digital campaign. The quality, visibility, and relevance of your content will be the most influential factor in determining the success or failure of your new site. Knowing this, be sure to keep that in mind as the new website is designed.

One primary consideration is what type of content will be published on-site.

  • Are you going to have a blog?
  • Is that blog going to be mostly visual or will you be publishing long, informative articles?

These questions should always be answered before you start designing the site. This gives you the opportunity to effectively integrate the blog into the overall design of your new website. It will also give you a chance to make sure that visitors can always find the most relevant content for them – and that they can find your blog, no matter what page they’re on.

Another consideration is whether you’ll be offering any other content through your site.

  • Will you be publishing whitepapers, newsletters, important videos, etc.?
  • If so, how will they be delivered?
  • Will you offer them in return for an email address?
  • Will they be available to anyone or only available to existing clients?

As with each of the previous points, considering your content before you finalize the site design will make it far more functional, profitable, and effective.

4. Technical SEO

Your site’s position in the SERPs depends on many different factors – more than 200, according to Google. This means that your redesign gives you more than 200 different areas that you can look to improve, condense, and build on to increase your search visibility, site authority, and trust.

Three key areas you should pay close attention to during the redesign process are:

  • Page load times: Far too often companies launch a site that looks great, but only if you wait around for long enough for the homepage to load. Unfortunately, visitors to your site won’t put up with it, and as a result, neither will search engines. Your redesign should be seen as an opportunity to speed up your site, not slow it down.
  • Compliance: If you want your site to work in the modern online marketplace it needs to conform to recognized standards. This means it needs to adhere to section 508 and W3C compliance factors as well as EU Cookie laws (if applicable).
  • Coding: The redesign process should be seen as an opportunity to give your coding a spring-cleaning if not a complete overhaul. As you know, search engine spiders only read text. They ignore text that is part of an image, or within a video and/or other visual/graphic web elements. This can have a serious affect on page visibility. To ensure that your site has the greatest possible search visibility, you need to make sure that your code makes it as easy as possible for the spiders to crawl your site.

5. Testing

In an ideal situation, budgets and time would be unlimited and every single component of the new site would be perfected based on analytical data. This would include all wireframes, mock-ups, images, color and content. and the list goes on and on. In the real world, this is just not doable, but what is important to remember are the advantages gained if we could. Therefore, build in realistic time and budget for this part of the design process.

Conclusion

A website redesign is a major event so it makes sense that this process should also be as integrated as possible. From the start, your chosen web design team should be heavily involved with you and your firm’s marketing department, including copywriters and any social media managers if applicable.

If you have questions about your firm’s current site or need a new website, let us know. We’re here to help!


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