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Redesigning your website: A content-first approach

By Karthikeyan Kumaran
Published March 16, 2023

It takes less than a second for users to decide whether they like your website or not.

And that is a solid reason to consider some drastic measures like, you guessed it: website redesign.

Not convinced? Here’s something else to consider.

88% of your website visitors won’t come back after having a poor experience with your website.

By performing website enhancements to your government website, you will help improve user experience to engage more with your residents thanks to decreased friction. For example, when your organization redesigns your website, focus on making changes in the most visible parts of the user interface (UI), like visual elements and the color schemes, and in more functional areas like usability and accessibility. 

Remember the purpose of your website

Starting with the launch of the website project, a proper content phase continues throughout the complete reconstruction. Consider the main goals of your website: to inform visitors about your city services and provide easy access to information about your community. Reaching these goals still comes down to content, despite all the bells and whistles that modern website technology offers.

If a user cannot locate the content they are looking for it right away, no matter how attractive, innovative, and technologically advanced your site is, they will drop off or become frustrated. Your website's design, sitemap, and content should serve as a guide to fuel a technology-driven content management system so you can boost customer service satisfaction and happy residents.

Downfalls of starting with design

Many organizations start their website projects with design and technology, filling in the spaces left for content at the end. They do this because the content phase is daunting, complex and time-consuming. And let’s be honest, images and design are just more fun! However, when you leave the content phase for last, it can lead to:

  • mismatched or irrelevant content
  • web pages that are too long or short
  • the need to redesign or redevelop later to meet content needs
  • sites that are visually appealing but difficult to navigate

Although the content phase is not as glamorous as the design phase, it is where all website projects should begin – and end. Although you may believe that a picture (or flashy graphic) is worth a thousand words, images should never replace content on a website for a variety of reasons, including accessibility, user comprehension, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Audit your existing content

The steps you take to prepare and plan for a website redesign ultimately define how successful your redesign project will be. One of the most beneficial things you can start with is a complete an in-depth audit of your current website. However, many organizations either overlook or rush this critical phase because it is often too time consuming.

The most fundamental content audit scans your site and generates a list or spreadsheet inventory of each page, creating a big sitemap of everything that exists on your site. This will be the first building block for your team to understand the size and organization of your current website and what your goals are for your website redesign. Typically, we’ve found many municipalities have copious amounts of webpages, which can lead residents down a rabbit hole when looking for information. We recommend pairing down your content so it’s creating the shortest search journey for your residents.

To take your audit one step further, you may also want to include:

  • traffic to the page (if website analytics are available)
  • basic description
  • author
  • department that owns the content page
  • attached files (i.e. PDFs)
  • news, articles, FAQs, basic pages, calendars, interactive forms, etc.
  • website accessibility (for both users and responsive design)

Following that, a web writing expert should review, comment on, and even grade several pages from your website in relation to web content best practices. This will assist you in identifying specific ways to improve the content on your website so your content is clear and concise.

Create a new sitemap

With your website audit complete, you are finally on your way to creating your new site. Your next step begins with your sitemap, which serves as a blueprint for where each content and pillar page will fall under which menu or submenu.

If your content is designed to your internal departments like operations, human resources, purchasing, recreation and road maintenance, you are not considering the searching journey of your residents. You need to create a strong menu that aligns with topics they know and care about like local government, residential services, explore and enjoy, and business and growth.

With a navigable and intuitive sitemap tailored to your audience needs, your residents will be able to find information quickly and easily and be more happy to return to your site for future information and services.  

Make your content work for your community

With the help of these quick tips, you can begin to evaluate your content, rebuild your website, and make sure that your users have a positive web experience.

Schedule a call to know more on how Govstack can help you to create compelling content with a dynamic content management system that resonates with your audience.