You've finally committed to step out of the Internet stone age (read: 2001) and design a new website that looks fresh, amazing and is mobile friendly.
That is awesome and I applaud you for making the scary leap. There is nothing quite like beautiful design.
But there are a few things you need to know beforehand that, if ignored, can have a negative impact on your business.
Here are four things to look out for as you go through this process.
1. Sometimes Beauty Kills Conversions
Have you ever seen a website that has a super long, really ugly sales page? What is their problem? Don't they know how obnoxious those long pages are? Well the truth is, those pages convert like crazy. They may be ugly, but they have proven time and time again to drive sales and so people still use them.
What about those pop-up windows asking you to subscribe to a newsletter? You hate them don't you? Most people do, but again, the reason you see them all the time is because they work. So as you get your website turned into a web design masterpiece, don't forget about the purpose of your website. You need to design it with your main goals in mind.
If your number one goal is to get email sign-ups, then design the new site to help you accomplish your goal. If you simply want to show off how amazing your work is, then make that the focus of the new site and direct your visitors to view your work.
The point is, you need to make it beautiful and drive your visitors to do what you want them to do.
2. Keep Website Content In Mind
This problem started back in the days of Flash websites. People wanted something that looked amazing and clean. The problem was they forgot that search engines need content to index.
If your website is all images, there is not much for a search engine to index and thus your rankings will suffer. We all know that a lot of text is ugly and can ruin good design, but good design that no one sees isn't worth much either.
As you build your new website (and most web designers will know this) you need a good mix of beauty and function. It is OK to have beautiful images on the site, but you need to have readable content that guides your users as well as the search engines.
3. Don't Lose History With Google
One of the most common problems with doing a new website design is that often the company that does the work for you will build out the site in a different design language, causing all of the URL file names to change.
For example, you might go from: http://yourwebsite.com/services.html to http://yourwebsite.com/services.php.
Although there are safeguards for this kind of change, if they aren't put into place properly you could lose your page history with Google and see a drop off in your search traffic.
Now, like I mentioned earlier, there are safeguards. You can set up 301 redirects to the new pages and this technically should help you avoid any drop off but it doesn't always happen right away.
Just make sure the web design company is very familiar with 301 redirects and how to implement them properly and you'll be fine.
4. Don't Lose Link Juice
This one goes back to number three on this list. If you don't set up the 301 properly or if on the new site there isn't a replacement page for one that existed on the old site, there will end up being a ton of broken links out in cyberspace that you are no longer getting credit for.
The last thing you want to have happen as you make this transition is to lose the SEO power from the links you have obtained over the years.
There are many SEO people out there that look for broken links all day long and will literally contact those websites that link to your old pages and tell them to remove the link and replace it with a link to your competitor.
You want to make sure you do everything you can to keep the power of the links your website already has. This may mean you need to reach out to those who have linked to you and ask them to change the url of the link if your url's have changed with the new website.
At least with the 301 redirecting you should still get credit for the links but just don't have broken links out there. A quick search on Ahrefs site explorer tool and you can find any broken links you have pointing to your site quickly.
Now the last thing I want to do with this article is scare you out of redesigning your website. In fact if you have a design that is more than five years old, I highly recommend it.
If you do it right you will probably see a jump in rankings, conversions and happy visitors. Just follow the guidelines in this article and remember to guide your visitors to what you want them to do with the new website and you will be on your way to a better visitor experience.