November 08, 2016

What We Learned Redesigning Quanex.com

by Erin Johnson

Your website is, in many ways, your company’s public face in an increasingly digital marketing landscape. But it’s also much more. Your site must be functional, intuitive to use, and most importantly, useful to your customers.

I wrote about the importance of keeping your web site up to date not long ago. For instance, people spend more time browsing the internet on their mobile devices now than on desktop—a trend that isn’t reversing anytime soon. Further, Google accounts for mobile optimization when it determines ranking. If you’re not mobile optimized, search results will punish you for it.

As our team worked on the new Quanex.com over the course of this past year, we focused on those things, and we learned a lot in the process. Redesigning a website that meets the needs of customers takes significant team effort, where everyone is working efficiently toward the same goal. It takes the coordination of your team and your vendors to bring your new site to life.

Based on our team’s experience, here are some of the most valuable pieces of advice I can offer to an organization looking to redesign its website:

Take a Step Back. If you’ve decided to overhaul your website, the first question you should ask yourself is “why?” And you should be able to answer that question with strong rationale. Dig into your current web metrics. What are customers doing most on your website? Doing the least? Take note of trends, and tailor your changes accordingly.

It’s here you should also take stock of your content management system (CMS). Do your research, and determine whether your current CMS is best for your future needs. For instance, if you’re trying to bolster e-commerce, consider a platform works well for that purpose. (Here’s a good, long read on things to look for when choosing.)

Get Buy-In and Set Expectations.  It’s only natural that people throughout your organization will ask the same question: “Why?” Have an answer for them. Your teams may have certain perceptions of how customers are using your website; back up your plan with the analytic proof you’ve already collected. Create buy-in from your teams this way.

Throughout, help set reasonable expectations amongst your teams. Creating a website that works best for your company takes time, because doing your due diligence is essential. Take those extra steps to make sure everything will work correctly. Because once you’ve begun down a path in web design, it’s very difficult (i.e., expensive) to change course once development is underway.

The Right Partners. Chances are, you don’t have a full in-house web development team, meaning you’ll be dependent on a vendor to bring your new website to life.

Whether you already work regularly with a web team or are starting from scratch, choosing a vendor who knows your CMS platform inside and out is one of the most important steps you can take. This will make updates and maintenance easier on your end. Check if your developers are certified in your chosen CMS.

Transparency is another key. A good developer will be up-front in what’s possible within your scope, and won’t pull surprises. They’ll also work with you to accomplish your goals in ways you might not have thought about.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at Erin.Johnson@Quanex.com.

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: November 08, 2016 by Erin Johnson Filed under: design, insights, web