Redesigning a site is not a trivial task. It occurs in different critical situations: if your company has changed priorities, your brand image has changed, your most profitable pages are not the ones you initially had on your site, you want to increase conversions through better positioning in Google, etc.
After determining the goal of your site redesign, you will need to decide what elements need to be changed on your WordPress site. Then, starting from this reflection, you can begin to imagine the new site you wish to have and then carry out the site’s redesign using a technical solution adapted to your needs.
Although you will find some ideas in this introduction to redesign a WordPress site, we advise you to read the rest of this article to know the key steps for a successful redesign of your site.
Before the Website Redesign
A site redesign will look different depending on your initial goal. You will not change the same elements of your site if you want to adapt your site to a new image or if you want to improve the SEO of your site.
Typically, a site redesign means the site gets a makeover – perhaps with different colors or different font types. It may also indicate that parts of the site are modified to make them easier for visitors to find.
Some websites are entirely overhauled: everything is changed, from the layout to the color scheme to the writing style.
Before embarking on redesigning your WordPress site, you must decide what elements to modify on the site.
- Will you modify the administration of the site?
- Will you optimize positioning on search engines, or do you want to keep the current SEO?
- Do you want to add new features?
- Or will you only change the design of the WordPress site?
Other reasons may be used for an overhaul, and other elements may be impacted. You will need to consider the reason for the redesign and what you want to change and keep before you start redesigning your WordPress site.
Realize the models of the new site
When you are finally ready to start redesigning your WordPress site, you will need to make some mockups of the new site you want to get. In most cases of a redesign, you can hire a professional Graphic Designer or a Web Designer to make a mockup.
If you want to optimize your site’s SEO, you can create a schema to simulate your site’s pages’ new structure and hierarchy.
Suppose the objective of the redesign is to add a feature. It will be interesting to create a functional model (wireframe) of this new feature to help you integrate it on your site as you imagined it, especially if you delegate this task to a developer.
And, of course, if you want to carry out a graphic redesign or a complete redesign of your site, making several mockups of your new site is essential for a successful site redesign.
Nowadays, there is a multitude of free and paid software to create tree diagrams and site models:
- To simulate the structure of a website, you can use sites like GlooMaps or Octopus.
- Balsamiq, MockFlow, Sketch, Figma, or Adobe XD software will be perfect for creating a wireframe or functional model of the site.
- And to create complete mockup mockups of your WordPress site, you can use Sketch, Figma, or Adobe XD software.
Implement a Technical Solution
There are several ways to redesign your site without visitors seeing changes live.
None of these solutions is better than another, and you must choose the one that best suits your needs.
Put the site in maintenance.
You can put your WordPress site on maintenance if you want to notify that your site is being redesigned while performing the site redesign.
Putting your site on maintenance will redirect your site visitors to a single page, informing them that the site is unavailable and will be available soon.
While visitors are redirected to the maintenance page, you can complete the site redesign worry-free and without the risk of visitors being disturbed by any changes due to the site redesign.
To create a maintenance system on your WordPress site, you can install a maintenance plugin. The most popular WordPress maintenance plugins are “Maintenance” by WebFactory, “WP Maintenance Mode,” and “Coming Soon Page, Maintenance Mode & Landing Pages by SeedProd.”
Use a Page Builder
One of the solutions to redesign your WordPress site without impacting it is to use a page builder that will allow you to create new pages for your site without disturbing your visitors.
The best-known page builders are Elementor, Divi, and BeaverBuilder. They will allow you to create pages easily with their pre-designed blocks, put your pages in the draft and publish them later when they are finished.
Create a copy of the WordPress site
The most drastic solution, which has its advantages, is to create a new copy of your WordPress site in a subdomain or subdirectory of your host if this one allows it.
In this site copy, you can start from scratch with your site’s configuration if you wish and thus clean your site of old files, useless extensions, or unused data.
This solution requires technical skills to create a copy of WordPress, which will have to be transferred to the site in production or replaced.
Using a staging site
Staging sites are test sites copied from your WordPress site, where you can make significant changes without impacting your leading site. When one or more changes made on the staging site are complete, you can send them to the top WordPress site without putting them in maintenance.
The process is transparent to visitors to your site, who have no access to the staging site or any changes made to it until you validate them to appear on the leading site.
This solution has significant advantages since it does not require advanced WordPress or programming skills, it is easy and quick to set up in most cases, and everything is transparent for your site users.
However, the disadvantage of this solution is that only a few web hosts offer the staging site functionality for WordPress. WordPress extensions exist to overcome this problem. However, these also have some disadvantages, such as the performance of the staging site or the confidentiality of your data.
Carry out the redesign of the site
Once the WordPress site is ready to receive the redesign, there are a few site elements to consider for a successful redesign.
Make a backup of the current site.
When redesigning a site, the first thing to think about is to save the site in question before performing the redesign.
It is less necessary to use a staging site or a development site (copy of WordPress). However, it’s always nice to have a backup on hand if something goes wrong during the redesign transition or implementation of the technical solution allowing the site’s redesign.
If, during the site’s redesign, you had to delete extensions to install them again later, remember to save the settings of these extensions from restoring them to the same on the site that will have undergone the redesign.
Watch out for SEO
After backing up your WordPress site’s files and database, you’ll need to think about preserving your site’s SEO.
If you complete a site redesign, make sure you recreate a correct site structure that will be suitable for search engines.
But that’s not all; you must also make sure to use the right keywords, reintegrate the images of the pages and articles, and all the site’s content unless it must be optimized for better positioning on search engines like Google.
Finally, if you have modified the URLs of your site’s pages, it is imperative to create 301 redirections to the site’s new pages. Otherwise, 404 errors may occur and impact the experience of your visitors as well as the SEO of the site.
You can redesign a WordPress site for different reasons and various purposes. However, you must follow some steps common to each objective to achieve this redesign.
Before a redesign, you must know its challenges and prepare it with diagrams or models of what the site will look like. Then, you can put in place a technical solution so as not to impact your current site with the redesign and finally carry out the redesign of the WordPress site.
A site redesign is a big job; even for minor redesigns, you must ensure that your WordPress site will come out better than it was. Feel free to contact with OrixLab to get help redesigning your WordPress site.