I have an old site that has been running for over 8 years. In what ways can it be updated? In terms of design and in terms of the engine, tell me step by step.
First, ensure that everything on your site is working properly. Then you should clean up all the badlinks, core web vitals and check media usage, structure all your data and update seo. After this steps try to do an A/B test of desired content or updated versions of your site (easier if your site is on WordPress platform).
In order to update or modernize the site, you must adhere to the following criteria.
1) Analyze and think about what you want to change, what problems need to be fixed, what needs to be reworked or removed altogether. It is also worth analyzing the activity on the site and find out which pages are more popular. This will help you understand in what order to put the pages and products.
2) Carry out prototyping. The prototype is important for all project participants, both the client and the contractor. A site prototype can be developed in any program, the result is important, not the tool. For example, Figma or Axure RP are great for such tasks.
3) After choosing one of the versions of the prototype, you need to do visual design. The prototype at this stage acts as a "skeleton" on which all other organs of the body are installed. Use your "design system" when designing. The design system includes a set of rules for: colors, typography (styles, fonts and their application), icons, grids, padding, animations.
4) After completing all the programming work, it is necessary to conduct a thorough check of the entire functionality of the site. You need to test the site both from the management side and from the user side. You need to reproduce all possible uses of the site and check the functionality. In addition, mandatory testing on different devices and platforms.
5) Site support is a recommended service for all customers. Ideal support is a monthly "Check-up" of the site, all the main functionality, content status, system updates, and so on are checked.
The first stage is Research
The tasks of web site owner and users often do not overlap and in order for everyone to be satisfied, you need to conduct a study. It is important to find out what problems exist, what needs to be added, reworked, completely removed or implemented.
Communication with business and managers. You need to understand what is important to them, and what goals and objectives they want to solve with a new site, web design.
Communication with current clients. The task is to find out their problems with web site. Find out what you like on the site, and which sections / pages need to be reworked or completely removed.
We communicate with clients carefully and selectively. It is important to interview customers who have already made a purchase and those who do not dare to do it.
Analyze the activity on web site. Which pages are the most popular. Which products are the most sold and marginal. This will help to understand which sections, products we can place at the beginning of web site, in the middle and at the end, so that they bring commercial results.
It is easiest and most efficient to perform analysis using end-to-end analytics systems. We use Google Data Studio, which allows us to collect, process and visualize data from different sources.
Analysis of the current positions of the site and its features. It is important to understand in advance what positions the site is in search engines, due to which it receives traffic. The task of updating web site is to improve the indicators.
The second stage is Prototyping
Based on the collected data from the first stage, we are developing a prototype of the future site and structure. When creating a prototype, you need to take into account user behavior. Sometimes the transfer of the "Basket" and "Buy" buttons to new places ruins business.
You need to start with the key pages and blocks. There are several options to choose from for the customer. Together with the owners of the site, it is necessary to discuss the advantages of each of the options, and then work with the favorite.
The prototype is important for all project participants, both the client and the contractor. The prototype gathers all the ideas and thoughts. It reflects the functions and usage scenarios of web site.
A prototype of a site can be developed in any program, the result is important, not the tool. For example, Figma or Axure RP are great for such tasks.
The third stage is Visual Design (UI)
After choosing one of the prototype versions, we are engaged in visual web design. The prototype at this stage acts as a "skeleton" on which all other organs of the body are installed.
Website design is a whole system where everything is interconnected. And not just the external picture. To develop a really high-quality design, you need to work out web design of all the elements, where all the scenarios for using web site have been thought out.
In the development of design, we use our own "design system" and all developers should start doing this. The design system includes a set of rules for: colors, typography (styles, fonts and their application), icons, grids, indents, animations. This allows you to quickly make a design using all the past experience of the web studio.
In addition, thanks to web design system, we can support all client sites without much expense, there is no need to look for where this or that element, functionality is located. But of course, using a design system should not reduce all projects to one style. We always make the visual design unique, which corresponds to the DNA of the customer's company. I advise everyone to start developing their own library of elements.
Designers should work in conjunction with programmers, think through and lay down future possible functionality. New project tasks, after a few years, should not be a blow to the development team. It is necessary to initially lay a strong foundation and then the construction of any new facilities on it will be feasible.
The fourth stage is development
When web design is done, the work is transferred to the development department.
If the project is typical, it is best to use ready-made CMS and CRM systems that are maintained and updated. You should not check your ambitions at the expense of the customer's wallet, because self-written CMS and CRM for each individual project require large resources for maintenance and refinement.
The exception is large and complex projects where the customer understands why an individual solution is being written.
Programmers need to study the entire skeleton of the current site. Save all current and well indexed links. Remove or upgrade unnecessary ones. If web site has been working successfully for a long time, it means that work has been done on it and you need to study their list. You can't take everything down clean.
In programming, it is also necessary to follow a certain system and record every implementation in the company's library. There should be no surprises that only one programmer knows about the device of the filling of web site, because he can quit.
All team members should know about the stuffing, and for this, the web studio should have a library with access to it by the necessary team members.
The fifth stage is testing and debugging
After completing all the programming work, it is necessary to conduct a thorough check of the entire functionality of the site. For the customer, the site must be a ready-made and fully tested product.
You need to test web site both from the management side and from the user side. It is necessary to reproduce all possible options for using the site and check its operability. In addition, mandatory testing on different devices and platforms.
The sixth stage is support
Website support is a recommended service for all customers. The ideal support is a monthly "Check-up" of web site, all the basic functionality, the state of the content, system updates, and so on are checked.
Remember that an already established site is a large and complex system, the roots of which have sprouted into various resources. You cannot delete the old site and install a new one, it is a very complex system where any change can have negative consequences for business. It is important to conduct a deep preliminary analysis of the current state of web site and only on the basis of it, to make improvements.