As a WordPress agency that provides site redesigns, you know there’s a lot more to your job than just creating perfectly-designed websites and handing them over to your clients.

Sure, you need to add headlines, images, and possibly video content to your client’s site so that it’s visually appealing. But more than that, you need to design the website to be content-first

After all, it’s the content that’s going to draw site traffic, keep visitors engaged, and convert people as subscribers or customers.

According to Prototypr, Content-First Design is: “an approach that involves the use of content to define the layout and elements in a design, rather than the other way around.” 

If you’re in the business of redesigning client websites using the current structure (rather than developing a brand new design and essentially starting over) this checklist is for you. Today we’re going to highlight the most important steps to follow anytime your WordPress agency is ready to create a content-first WordPress site redesign.

Step 1: Benchmark Current Data

The first thing you need to do before embarking on a content-first site redesign is benchmark your client’s current data and define the goals they want to achieve with a redesign. This way, long after the site redesign is finished, your client can accurately measure its success.

Here are some of the most important metrics your WordPress agency should track before redesigning a client’s website:

  • Number of unique visitors per month
  • Average monthly bounce rate
  • Best performing keywords
  • Number of inbound links
  • Average monthly time spent on site
  • Number of new leads per month
  • Monthly sales numbers
  • Number if indexed webpages
  • Pages receiving the most traffic

The best way to gather this data is to use the free Google Analytics tool.

google-analytics

It’s easy to integrate the tracking code on a WordPress website and even your clients will be able to track their site’s data long after their site redesign.

Step 2: Create a Content Hierarchy

Once you know how well your client’s site is performing now, as well as what their long-term goals are, it’s time to create a content hierarchy.

Strategically placing certain elements throughout your client’s site will boost conversion rates. A clear content hierarchy also means a lower bounce rate.

Though there are many reasons why site visitors abandon websites immediately upon arriving (including outdated web design, which is likely why your client has come to you), one of the biggest factors is site content. 

More specifically, people bounce because:

  • Content is hard to read
  • There are too many promotional ads
  • Video content is set to auto-play
  • Navigation structures are endless mazes 
  • The site is slow to load and performs poorly
  • Gated offers aren’t appealing
  • The value proposition isn’t clear
  • There are no calls to action

Adding to that, the industry you’re in will play a role in how many people bounce from your client’s site ‘just because.’

average-bounce-rates-by-industry

All of these reasons are why laying out a clear content hierarchy is necessary for improving a site undergoing a redesign. In other words, you need to answer the question: What do site visitors want to see in terms of content when they land on your client’s website?

Take a look at how Basecamp sets up their homepage content hierarchy:

Connect with site visitors: Basecamp does a great job of connecting the problem their prospective customers have with the solution they provide. They also include a clear call to action for those that want to get started right away.

connect-with-site-visitors

Social Proof for gaining trust: For site visitors that are more skeptical of what Basecamp has to offer, there’s a dedicated testimonial section. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends. This section shows new leads how Basecamp has helped people in the past.

social-proof

Explanation of solution: In a last ditch effort to give those who continue scrolling down the webpage to convert, Basecamp provides a more thorough explanation of the solution they offer customers. It is also followed by another CTA button for people to click.

explanation-of-solution

Notice too how the navigation bar is sticky, or fixed, as you scroll down the webpage. This makes exploring the rest of the site’s content simple, no matter where on the homepage a site visitor is.

Of course, this is just one example of how a website uses its content to guide people to take action. 

That said, you can apply this simple concept to any site redesign, especially because you already have your client’s content and know what they want site visitors to see and do once they arrive. The web design that comes with this content is just added visual appeal.

Step 3: Develop a Content Architecture

Again, using the content your client already has on their existing website, you’ll need to re-organize it in a way that is user-friendly and makes sense to site visitors.

To do this, start by defining the role of every page your client has on their site. Each page should have a specific value it provides site visitors. Without knowing this value, you can’t possibly know how to organize it in the most effective way.

Here are three helpful ways to create a content architecture during a WordPress site redesign:

  • Create a Sitemap: create an internal sitemap that you and your team reference when redesigning a client website. This sitemap will show how different pages (e.g., homepage, second level pages, custom post types, and even landing pages) relate to one another. It will also give you a blueprint for creating a new and easy to use navigation menu.
  • Card Sorting: a unique way to find out which content architecture will work best for your client’s website. Create different content sets on cards and hand them out to a group of target users to arrange in order of importance. If you need an online tool, try the OptimalSort online card sorting software.
  • Wireframing: create a simple, black-and-white outline of page elements, site features, conversion areas, and navigation for your website, complete with sizes and placement. This does not include things like logos, color schemes, or font styles. Instead, it’s a way to purely focus on the structure of the website.

The way your client’s website is structured will depend on many factors. However, Creative Commons can give you a good idea what a website with a solid content architecture looks like:

content-architecture-example

As you scroll down the webpage all of the content in organized into neat grids and is easy to follow. People can read more content, donate, start a search, and get in contact with ease – which is the point of developing a content architecture.

And there you have it! Your easy to follow 3-point checklist for creating a content-first WordPress website redesign. 

Of course, as a WordPress agency you know there is a lot more to a site redesign than benchmarking data, creating a content hierarchy, and developing a content architecture. But those things often go beyond the content. 

The takeaway point today is to use your client’s content to your advantage when performing a site redesign for them. Doing so gives you the best chance at acquiring a long-term client and your client a chance at succeeding in a way they never have before.

And don’t forget, if your WordPress agency is in need of infrastructure management, site performance tuning, maintenance, and all other things hosting-related, you can always check out our cloud management for agencies. We’ll help you scale your agency and optimize client websites. But more than that, we’ll give you the best ways for you and your team to work together with collaboration tools, workflow management, site design blueprints, and unlimited staging environments so you can grow your business without any worries.