To do anything right, you need a plan.
Throughout our 20 years of web design and development experience, we’ve perfected the process and planning that is required for a website redesign to be successful. A version of this approach can work for any type of website, but we have specifically crafted it for manufacturing and industrial companies.
Why a focus on manufacturing?
Because as a manufacturer, your needs are different. You don’t need flashy websites with trendy designs. In fact, based on our continued research of hundreds of websites, some of those designs are going to hurt you.
Unlike consumer-focused websites, people aren’t usually on your website for fun or entertainment.
They need information. They are wondering if they should work with your company. They need specific questions answered. Your website needs to become a resource and act as a salesperson that is always available to answer questions.
You can’t just dive headfirst into building a website and expect it to be successful.
Careful and strategic planning is critical to be certain the money and time you invest in your new website will produce the return you need.
You can download our workbook for step-by-step instructions.
Manufacturing Website Design Strategy
It all starts with strategy. You need to understand and document your current performance metrics before heading into a redesign of your manufacturing company's website.
Most of this information can be found in Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Although you may have different marketing platforms that provide even more data.
If you don’t have any of this information, you will be more reliant on your web developer and their experience.
Questions you want to answer.
- How many visitors does your website get per month on average?
- What is the overall bounce rate?
- What keywords are you currently ranking for on Google and what is their position?
- How many conversions per month does your website generate?
- What is the overall conversion rate of your website?
- If your website is e-commerce, how many sales per month?
Make a list of your top-performing pages in a table that includes the traffic, the number of keywords ranked, and conversion rate.
Don’t worry about disappointing numbers here. This is just meant to serve as a benchmark.
These numbers will help you to establish your actual goals for redesigning your website.
As fun as redesigns are (at least for us), they should be for a purpose.
This can include a better User Experience (UX), improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO), more leads/sales, or better brand positioning. The goals should be unique to you and specific enough to track. This will help your website redesign focus on specific business objectives.
But don’t just think about your goals. Actually list them out. This will help you get company buy-in and prove to your boss that this is the right step for the business.
Here is the framework we follow:
- Why do you want to redesign the website?
- What does success look like for your redesign? Be specific here. SMART goals are ideal.
We also want to use this time to take stock of your Brand and Targeting. Doing this now will help guide the actual design process.
- What is your brand’s unique value proposition? Is it going to change with the new website?
- Who is your target audience? Make a list of their demographic and psychographic information.
- Who are your top competitors? Do you like any of their websites? If so, why?
While you never want to copy your competitors, you should still routinely analyze their approach and identify opportunities where you can capitalize on their efforts and improve your own approach.
Put the Website Redesign Plan Together
The exercise above will give you a solid understanding of your current metrics, specific goals for the website redesign, and your target audience. Now you can get to work on planning the website redesign for your manufacturing company.
Don’t feel like you have to do this all on your own. We’ve developed hundreds of manufacturing and industrial websites and can help you get unstuck.
- Are you going to want to sell products or services on your new site?
- What do you hate about your current website?
- Is there any information your website is missing?
- What should visitors know about your company right away?
- Does the website need to be multilingual?
- Deadline for launch?
What's the budget?
Many times, people fear giving this number because they think the web development company will stretch the work to match that price. While some unethical companies might do that, the real reason providing a budget is important is that it helps web development companies put together an ideal plan. Usually, there are many ways to approach a redesign. Custom designing the homepage and multiple interior pages is going to give you a better end result, but it is more costly than using a predesigned template.
Your web design partner should be able to craft the ideal strategy for not only hitting your goals, but also staying within your budget.
You also need to analyze the site structure.
- How many pages are on your current website?
- What is the visual sitemap?
- Will this sitemap change? Consider the SEO and UX importance here.
While you are creating these, now will be the ideal time to create a spreadsheet of 301 redirects. Not only will these redirects automatically send visitors to the new page if the URL changes, but they will also tell Google this is a permanent change and the SEO equity should be moved to the new page. 301 redirects are one of the most important things to do as part of a website redesign. If this doesn’t happen you will see your traffic and rankings drop fast. The results will be devastating. If a web development company you are talking to doesn’t have something about 301 redirects in their proposals, then you should find someone else.
Let’s talk about content.
Now that you have a new sitemap in front of you, it’s time to review your content.
If you are looking to add any new pages or update existing content, now is the time to set due dates and make a plan. Website content is the text, images, and videos that make up the pages. Not having content ready in time is one of the primary reasons deadlines don’t get hit when it comes to website launches. Proper planning helps you get in front of this as an issue. It can be hard to manage writing content with all of your other work responsibilities. When this is the case we typically use our content writers on staff to get the site to where it needs to be before launching.
Many manufacturing websites need more advanced functionality. If your website needs to integrate with other software, such as an ERP or CRM you should plan for that now.
Other common needs manufacturing companies have to include:
- Custom calculators or configurations
- Document management systems for SDS or other documents
- Warranty registration software
- Distributor lookup tools
- Distributor portals
- Searchable online product catalogs
We’ve built them all and the scope can vary based on your specific needs. Make sure to work with a company that understands what you need and isn’t just looking to use a plugin that the only “kind of” works.
Technical considerations go beyond just new functionality
Are you changing your domain name?
What Content Management CMS are you using? There are a lot of options. You will want one that is open-source to avoid being tied to any specific web development company. Other things to consider are the structure/capabilities, security, ease of use, and how it works with SEO needs.
Have a plan for your hosting. Most of the time it is easier to host with the same company that is developing your website. This way you only have one company to call with any problems or questions. But not all hosting is created equal. Cheap and inferior web hosting will cost you long in the run.
Don’t let all the planning seem too daunting. Your website might not need to go through all of those steps. But there are a lot of moving pieces to a successful website build. Putting the time in now will help make the actual project stress-free.
With the plan in place, let the fun begin. It's time to build a new website for your manufacturing company.
The majority (if not all) of these next steps will fall on the lap of the web development company you chose. But having a solid understanding of what they are (or at least should be) will help you with the process.
It's Time to Design
UX Analysis and Wireframe
- Review Google Analytics for insight into website visitor behavior
- Develop User Stories - to determine logical flow for multiple users throughout the site
- Create wireframe layouts for key pages
- Review/Revise/Approve wireframe layouts
Creating Design Mockups
- Using UX analysis and wireframes, create design mockups of key pages.
- Review/Revise Approve design mockups
Let's Start Developing the Website
- Create a Staging Environment
- Make sure to mirror the final environment based on the platform
- Set to no index - Very important to switch back to index before going live!
- Layout current content and content needs for all pages in the sitemap
- Develop plan and deadlines for developing new content
- Review/Revise/Approve website content
- Develop theme files of the website based on designs on the staging environment
- Add additional pages
- Custom development functionality
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Perform keyword research:
- Current rankings
- Desired rankings
- Intent-based search queries
- Title Tags
- Header Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Image Alt Tags
Make a list of your backlinks and what pages they link to
- Review various breakpoints to ensure readability on all screen sizes
- Perform ADA Audit
- Compile a list of ongoing changes to ensure compliance
- Site performance
Time To Launch Your Website!
Okay, maybe this is actually the fun part. All of your hard work is ready to go live to the world.
- Implement 301 redirects
- Check Robots.txt
- Reindex Website Submit sitemap and reindex to Google Search Console Submit sitemap and reindex to Bing Webmaster Tools Check the number of indexed pages Review and correct errors
- Verify scripts Google Analytics Goal tracking on Google Analytics Any other scripts in use
- Update Backlinks if the URL/Domain has changed
- Regularly review and optimize based on goals and data
Want to take this information on the go? Download the step-by-step workbook instructions PDF.