Bring your website roaring back to life with these 6 steps

Bring your website roaring back to life with these 6 steps
Neglecting your website in favour of shiny new platforms? We get it. The magpie instinct is strong. Read on to regain focus with a website refresh.

In the evolving social media landscape, websites are being relegated as prehistoric artefacts, collecting dust in neglected corners of the web. But what happens when a member of the public bounces from your socials to your website in the search for crucial information, only to be met with a terrible user experience? 

Here’s where the refresh comes in, ready to resuscitate your website and bring it roaring back to life. Think Jurassic Park, but fewer dinosaurs and more content auditing. We sat down with website wizard and Digital Communications Specialist, James Miller, to get into the nitty-gritty of what’s involved in the website refresh journey.


Website refresh or website redesign?

James advises that:

“Refreshes are generally more cost-effective, less time consuming, and more focused than redesigns. That’s because you’re tinkering to fix smaller problems or improve minor design elements, rather than going back to the drawing board for a wholesale overhaul of your site’s content, structure and functionality.

It’s the difference between remodelling or decorating a house, versus building a new house from scratch. Sometimes the latter is worth doing, but generally, if you’re happy with the fundamentals, a lick of paint and some maintenance work will do the trick”.


BEFORE you start your website refresh:


There are plenty of things to consider before you refresh your website. James highlights that:

“Nil magnum, nissi bonum! There’s no greatness without goodness, which in this context means get your basics right. You won’t get great results without good fundamentals. Starting out a refresh is all about properly identifying problem areas or things to improve upon. Picking wisely and specifically allows you to be really focused on your problem-solving”.

As well as mastering the basics, we can’t move on without advocating for asking your audience what they need from your website refresh before you get stuck in. 

There are plenty of ways to collect audience feedback, including manual surveys, focus groups and website widgets. React & Share captures instant, reactive audience feedback and provides actionable page-specific insights, letting readers tell you what they want refreshed, rather than the other way around. Check out our intuitive reaction buttons: 




6 ways to refresh your website

Here are 6 ways to get started on refreshing your website today (or whenever your boss signs the project off, either is cool):

1) Implement a process for getting feedback

At React & Share, we know first-hand how important implementing a process for collecting feedback can be for any organisation. 

Because of reader feedback sent through React & Share, Helsinki University Hospital restructured their content, splitting their content into smaller articles that answer a few questions. Before their refresh, they would write long, dense articles packed with information. Readers found this information difficult to plough through, but Helsinki University Hospital wouldn’t have known this without direct feedback on specific articles. 

Take a look at an example of the page-specific feedback that React & Share can provide here:


James stresses that:

“Feedback and testing are possibly the two most important parts of any refresh, and neither should ever really be considered to be ‘finished’. We and our colleagues are often so familiar with our own websites that we’re just used to the quirks or pain points and know how to work around them to do what we want. But your audience, particularly new visitors or customers, won’t be so well accustomed to how you’re handling things”.

2) Shape content around the needs of your audience

It goes without saying that we’re obsessed with quality website content and, in James’ words, “your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum”. He explains that, to better understand your content ahead of your website refresh:

“You need to understand the context your content is in. That means understanding your users/customers, as well as your competitors. Are your users short on time, but you’re putting out reams of pages of content? Do you want people to take an action but your ‘calls to action’ are buried at the bottom of the page? Have your competitors taken an image-first approach while you’re relying on words-first all the time?

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and try to see your content through their eyes. It may be ‘your’ content that you’re worried about, but it’s your customers’ minds you need to focus on”.

3) Audit your content

During your website refresh, it’s also crucial to undertake a content audit and see which pieces of content have performed the best. Any content that fails to meet your standards or support your goals has to go. We get it, it’s painful, but if the content doesn’t serve you or your audience, there’s no point clinging to it. 

James’ advice? “Let go of your ego. We all have instincts about what will work best, whether it’s to do with functionality or presentation or whatever, but if the testing doesn’t confirm your hypothesis, then your hypothesis was wrong”.

 4) Revamp your design

No, we don’t mean take your website apart and put it back together again. But freshening up your colour scheme, fonts and graphics can perform a mini facelift for a wrinkled website.

And, when it comes to individual web pages, we dove into the qualities that all successful web pages share. Qualities such as optimised images, graphics and strong branding all scored well across the 70-page comparison, so it makes sense that some design tweaks should play a part in your website refresh.

5) Nail the navigation

You’ve probably spotted that navigation was an important factor in web page success. Improving, rather than overhauling, your website navigation will help users to find the information they need, increasing their satisfaction and reducing the need for customer service calls. The ultimate website refresh box ticker.

Keep in mind your users’ vocabulary, use responsive menus, prioritise spacing and contrasting colours and always follow WCAG guidelines to ensure your website is navigational for all. Reviewing your navigation and overall UX will stop users from abandoning your website before they’ve got to the useful content.

6) Update core information

Last but not least, we want to stress the importance of updating core information. We’ve found that pages with continuous traffic that rank outside of your top 10 will often be overlooked and not visible within your usual reports. 

Imagine you’re a local authority and ask yourself what information your community needs from you? This could span contact details, opening times, local COVID updates, parking information or when the bins are getting collected.

Is this information easy to find and, most importantly, is it accurate? Believe us, our customers have uncovered significant blind spots with our reactive feedback tool. Double-check the details, then check again.

AFTER you’ve completed your website refresh:

We know you might want to call it a day, head to the pub and never look back after your website refresh. We would too. But don’t forget to keep an eye on the metrics and measure how successful your efforts have been.

James explains:

“As for what metrics are important, it’s generally based on what you’re trying to achieve, but broadly speaking you’ll be wanting to look at bounce rates, conversion rates, and ways to map user journeys. If people are finding what you want them to find, and taking the actions you want them to take, you’re likely doing something right.”

And, after you’ve actioned all of the points above, it’s important to check in with your audience – you know, the ones actually using the website – to see if the changes are working for them.

Finally, in James’ words, “better is preferable to perfect. You can keep tinkering forever – but getting an improvement live on your website is better than languishing in developmental hell, just because it’s not perfect”.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.