If you’re thinking about redesigning your membership site, this guide will help you prepare and successfully complete the project.
As web design trends come and go, it’s important to keep the design of your membership site up to date. Doing so will help your website stay relevant, appeal to your target audience, and continue to work on the latest devices.
However, there’s a lot to consider before starting work on redesigning a website. But by the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you should be ready to successfully update your membership site without running into any surprises along the way or negatively impacting your members.
Ready? Let’s get started….
Get Help or Go it Alone?
One important decision to make when planning a website redesign is whether you want to do it yourself or hire someone to help. If you’re using WordPress for your website, then you can choose from thousands of themes, including some impressive themes that have been built specifically for creating membership sites. This means there’s no need to be a professional web designer in order to carry out a successful redesign.
However, even if you choose an off-the-shelf theme, depending on your level of WordPress experience or experience of website management in general, you might want to find a freelance developer you can turn to if something goes wrong or you need some custom coding carried out on the theme. You can find freelancers to suit a range of budgets on sites like People Per Hour and Upwork.
Another option is to sign up with a WordPress maintenance and support service, like WP Buffs or WP Site Care. For a monthly fee, these companies will take care of any small problems that arise on your website.
Even if you’ve got a handle on the design and development aspects of redesigning your membership site, there are other areas to consider. One example is search engine optimization. So maybe think about hiring an SEO expert to check that your new website design won’t cause any problems with search engine visibility and a drop in organic traffic.
Planning the Site Redesign
When it comes to redesigning your membership site, planning is vital. Planning is probably even more important for a redesign then when creating a brand new site from scratch.
This is mainly because you'll have your existing members and audience to consider. Without a plan, the chances of something going wrong are higher, so if you don’t want to lose members, you need to have a solid plan in place before getting started on your membership site redesign.
Some points to consider when planning the redesign include exploring your analytics data to find out how your visitors are interacting with your current website and which pages are the most popular. If you find there are a few pages that attract a lot of visitors, or there’s some content with higher conversion rates than other pages, be sure to find out what’s so special about these pages. Then try to integrate the features of those pages into your redesign.
As well as using services like Google Analytics, heat map tools can help you get a good insight into how your visitors are interacting with your website. By viewing where your visitors are clicking and scrolling on your website, you can see if anything needs changing, such as images that look like buttons, or buttons that no one is clicking on.
Other points to add to your plan include making a list of which plugins you’re currently using as well as any that you intend to install, as well as checking the availability of anyone who will be helping you with your membership site redesign. If your membership site is busy at particular times of the year, try to avoid scheduling your redesign for these periods.
Choose an Approach to Site Redesign
Another point to consider is whether you want to do a complete site redesign or implement gradual changes to your site over time.
Maybe if you have a small website that doesn’t require much custom coding, you could quickly carry out the full redesign in one go, over a short period of time. Alternatively, you might have a large website with lots of bespoke solutions and integrations that would suit a more gradual approach to being redesigned.
Test Your Backups
Before you get started, it’s vital that you test your website backup system. Hopefully, you’ve been backing up your website on a regular schedule. However, you must test that you can restore those backup files without any problems.
If something goes wrong with the new version of your website, you need to know that you can quickly revert back to the previous version without any problems.
Our guide to the best WordPress backup plugins can help you find the right solution for your membership site.
Keep Your Members In the Loop
Before you start your membership site redesign, you should do all you can to let your audience and members know what to expect. Some options include sending out a message to your email newsletter subscribers and putting a notice on your site or inside your members area.
You should also think about putting up a coming soon or under maintenance page while you’re redesigning your site. If you’re using WordPress, there are some maintenance mode plugins that can help with this.
Something else to think about is enlisting some of your members to help with testing and providing feedback on your new design either before or after you’ve launched it.
Although you should definitely test the new version of your website before you launch it, you should also carry out rigorous testing after its gone live.
In addition to testing the user experience, and making sure that everything is working as it should, you should analyze the data collected by a service like Google Analytics to monitor key metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, and your conversion rates.
Your new site might look great. But if it’s not resonating with your audience or isn’t performing as well as the old site, you need to take action. In some cases, the redesign might’ve gone so badly you have to revert back to the previous site. However, it’s more likely that you’ll need to make a few adjustments after it goes live, based on feedback from users and the data from your tests.
Don’t Stop Monitoring
Once your new site has gone live and you’ve implemented any necessary changes, you should still be monitoring your membership site. There are many tools you can use to monitor the performance of your membership site, including its loading times and ability to handle multiple visitors at once.
Redesigning your membership site can be fun and exciting. However, it can be a risky process if you don’t sufficiently plan the project.
Although testing isn’t as fun as working on the design aspects of a website refresh, it’s just as important.
So before you start, make sure you have a realistic plan in place and some before and after data to help you evaluate the effectiveness of the redesign. Also, don’t forget to read our checklist for launching new membership sites for some tips on creating your new website.
Do you have any questions about redesigning your membership site? If so, please let us know in the comments below.