I recently rebuilt the Ragon Creative website from the ground up. Here’s a quick outline of my process—with a few tools and quick tips that came in clutch.
You’re going to want a clear end goal on paper before you get started. How much will this website project impact your bottom line by growing sales or reducing expenses? Or, will you be simplifying and saving time that you can reinvest into your business elsewhere?
My purpose for this website redesign was two-fold:
- Establish myself as a helpful marketing consultant for small business owners hungry to grow their business.
- Communicate my SEO services in a clear, understandable format for clients ready to grow using a digital marketing strategy.
2. Pick Your Marketing Strategy
Everything gets easier if you can pin down your marketing strategy from the beginning. After all, it’s not worth building out a blog post layout if you don’t plan to write any blog posts (save that for later). If you have tons of strong video content, then you want to build a website platform that will enable you to showcase those videos well.
Don’t forget to consider your audience first. Do a little research to find out what problem your ideal customer needs to solve. Where do they look for that solution and what terms do they use? What type of content do they prefer?
Simple Marketing Promise
Seth Godin shared this simple framework in This Is Marketing. This is where I guide clients at the beginning of every SEO project we tackle—and Ragon Creative is no exception.
3. Benchmark Your Current Website
Document your status at the very beginning of the project—so you can mark your progress and evaluate it later.
Here are some free tools I recommend:
- Google Analytics – the foundational website analytics tools
- Google Search Console – search stats and analytics (set this up ASAP)
- GT Metrix – website speed
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test – mobile website user experience
- Brokenlinkcheck.com – find broken links on your site
4. Gather Inspiration & Ideas
Every great website redesign starts with a strong inspiration board.
5. Wireframe Each Page
Once I had gathered some solid inspiration, I sketched the basic layout I was looking for.
Never forget the value of pencil and paper—they’re cheaper and faster.
6. Outline Written Content
Website projects always move faster when you already have your written content outlined as a draft. So, that’s where I started. Take notes as you progress through your research, the outline for each page will nearly write itself.
Jot down what your favorite sites include and note which sections of text are most effective.
If you want to go all-in on perfecting your written content (I recommend you do), then go check out Copyhacker’s guide to copywriting formulas. It’s extremely in-depth but easy to scan and find what writing approach fits your business best.
At the end of the day, words are your best communication tool. There is no replacement for a well-written sales page, so don’t skimp here!
7. Choose Your CMS
In other words, what platform (content management system) do you want to build your future website on?
WordPress is my weapon of choice, but Squarespace is another good option. Over 39.5% of the internet runs on WordPress because of its industry-leading security, mobile usability, speed, and SEO capabilities.
8. Chose Your WordPress Theme
Ok, so hopefully you took the WordPress route.
You don’t want to pick from the bottom of the barrel when choosing your theme. I always head to Studiopress to grab a premium theme because of their modern design styles and superior speed. Ragoncreative.com runs on the Authority Pro theme.
They usually run $80-130 but are included FREE if you set up hosting with Flywheel.
The Astra theme from Elementor is a great free option if you’re just getting started.
9. Set Up Hosting & Staging Site
There are numerous hosting options for WordPress out there. I’ve tried several that ended with terrible experiences. Your hosting company holds your website in its hands. Make sure you choose one with great customer service, fast speeds, and a proven track record in the industry.
Flywheel manage hosting is the ONLY plan I recommend to businesses and organizations.
The security, daily back-ups, and testing ability I get from those guys are unbelievable. And, they’re always ready to help with a quick chat on the phone—in non-technical language.
You can grab a basic, small business plan for only $150/yr.
10. Write Final Content, Build Forms, Etc.
Once I set up the new Studiopress theme, I got to work refining the written copy on my main pages—home, about, SEO services, contact, etc.
There’s something about seeing words in their actual location that will give you even more clarity on what you want to say about your business. Be careful not simply slap words on the page and move on.
This is also a great time to refine your hidden thank-you pages, confirmation messages, and other “micro-copy” sections of the site. These are too easily forgotten but can be your best opportunity to connect and build trust with your potential clients right out of the gate.
Why stick with the default text when you don’t have to?
11. Choose Colors & Fonts
I’m far from pro-status in the world of colors—so I learn from those farther along. I knew I wanted to choose a bright color, that wasn’t overly alarming or painful to read. So, I set off doing some research on Brandcolors.net.
They provide color palettes from hundreds of name brands in a simple-to-view format. I’ve never seen something so simple and so helpful at the same time.
12. Prep Images
Photos can make or break a website. Thankfully, there are several great places to grab stock photos to carry you over until you have time for a professional photo shoot.
I’ve found a few key images tools to make your life easier:
- Step 1 – Choose images (Unsplash is my go-to for free stock photos)
- Step 2 – Crop images (Canva is a great tool for this)
- Step 3 – Compress images (TinyPNG.com is free, easy to use, and makes your website load super-fast)
- Step 4 – Upload & place images
13. Refine Written Content
Always keep refining your message on the website. I bet you’ll have better insights every day you open the site. Just keep talking to your customer. Learn how to speak their language, understand their pain points, and focus on reaching them with every sentence.
Writing tools that make life easier:
14. Review & Test Staging Site
Now, after your written copy is mostly finished, it’s time to go back and test everything.
Read every sentence. Click every button. Submit every form. Then, ask someone else to do it all over again.
Leave no rock unturned, this is your golden opportunity to keep from embarrassing yourself before the site goes live.
15. Publish Live Site
Once you and another person test every page on the site, it’s time to go live. If you let it sit too long, you might fall into perfectionism and find cobwebs on the site 4 years later (as it sits in draft mode).
Parkinson’s Law is right to warn against perfectionism.
16. SEO Basics
Now is the time to implement some SEO basics on your site.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be an expert to take a few steps in the right direction. However, if you don’t tell Google (and other search engines) to re-scan your site then you’ll be fighting an uphill battle for a long time.
Here’s a shortlist of immediate SEO steps to take on your new website:
- Redirect any key pages to the new URLs
- Write page titles
- Write meta descriptions
- Submit an updated sitemap to Google via Google Search Console.
All of these above steps can be done using Search Console and the Rank Math plugin (for WordPress).
17. Connect Email & Other Tools
Don’t forget, the main function of your website is to capture online sales or gather contact info from leads. Now is the time to add any lead magnets or free offers you provide, with an email capture form.
You want to develop low-pressure ways for people to interact with you—so you can nurture them toward the right solution for their situation.
ConvertKit is my email tool of choice for nearly every type of business. They offer exceptional landing pages, forms, and personalized segmenting—all on their FREE plan.
I’ve used Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and others. Nothing compares to the quality experience and customer service of ConvertKit.
If you run an e-commerce site, then Active Campaign might be a better choice.
18. Review & Test Live Site
Now is the time for one last review!
This is a great time to run Brokenlinkcheck.com once more.
That’s A Wrap
Thanks for reading. Send me a message if you have any questions or ideas you want to kick around.
This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. However, this does not impact my reviews and comparisons. I only suggest products I’ve reviewed, and use, in order to help you make the best choices.