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How To Approach A Franchisee Website Redesign

Franchise website redesigns can seem like a daunting task.

After all, they are a lot to take on. There are multiple stakeholders (each with their own design preferences), folders full of brand assets, and the pressure to create a website solution that caters both to individual franchisees and the brand as a whole. At SpaceCraft, we've helped multi-location businesses build their web presence by creating eye-catching, functional franchisee website templates that can grow as their business expands.

Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to overhaul your existing franchisee website structure, there are a few key items to keep in mind. Read on to see the top considerations for a successful franchise website redesign, and tips on how to prepare for the design process.

1.) Website Hierarchy: Microsite vs Subdomain vs Subdirectory

First and foremost, think about the hierarchical website structure you want to use for your franchise locations. There are pro's and con's to each type, and the solution you choose should consider your unique business needs and goals. A breakdown of the main website structures are below:

Microsite

In this setup, each franchise location will have its own domain. For example, if you own the pet boarding franchise "Penny's Pet Boarding" with locations in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas, each location would have its own website and unique domain such as:

  • www.pennyspetboardingsanantonio.com
  • www.pennyspetboardingaustin.com
  • www.pennyspetboardingdallas.com

Subdomain

In this setup, you'd have a subdomain for each location based on the city/area:

  • san-antonio.pennyspetboarding.com
  • austin.pennyspetboarding.com
  • dallas.pennyspetboarding.com

Subdirectory:

In this setup, you would use one main domain, and have separate subdirectories for each location (these are typically nested in a main /locations subdirectory):

    • www.pennyspetboarding.com/locations/san-antonio

    • www.pennyspetboarding.com/locations/austin

    • www.pennyspetboarding.com/locations/dallas

So, which do you choose?

Think about the level of website access you want your franchise owners to have, and how much time can you devote to updating your franchisee websites. If you want owners to have control over their web presence, a subdomain or microsite would be the best option. If you'd rather own the web presence for all your franchises, choose a subdirectory setup.

If you go with the latter, you or your marketing team will be responsible for making all website changes across your organization including hour changes, address changes, new blog posts, etc. This can be time-consuming, especially as you grow and add more locations. On the other hand, this gives you complete control over your brand and design, so you don't need to worry about franchise owners breaking brand guidelines or using old assets.

Luckily, there are some franchise website builders that allow branding and design consistency while giving franchise owners control over their individual websites. By choosing a franchise website builder with predesigned templates and multiple user access levels, you can give owners access to their own microsite or subdomain while maintaining control over the design of their website. Predesigned templates can use predetermined logos, colors, and content, while allowing owners to edit blogs, team member pages, and update other information as needed.

But what's best for SEO?

Many professional SEO Specialists have debated which setup is better for SEO, and there isn’t one clear answer.

No matter what option you choose, SEO is an ongoing task and there's not one single tactic that can make or break your online presence. We recommend choosing the franchise website structure that will grow as your franchise expands and that enables your franchisee owners for success.

That said, there are a few main SEO factors to consider implementing on your franchise websites:

Location-Specific Content:

No matter what structure you use, incorporating location-specific content for each business location is important for SEO.

NAP Consistency:

NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency is especially important when you’re managing multiple location’s web presence. You'll want to make sure each location’s hours, address, and contact information is consistent not only on their websites but throughout local online directories. You can attempt managing local listing manually, but it takes time and is often unsuccessful. Investing in a NAP solution can save you valuable time, and gives your locations a solid foundation for their local presence.

Links:

Links are still an important part of SEO. Think about how to create both internal and external links to your website that help users find your most important content.

Analytics Tracking:

Last but certainly not least, it's important to set up tracking on each website property. This can provide insight on what locations are performing well, and which may need extra support to get their web traffic up.

2.) Think About What Functionalities You Need Before You Start Designing

Before you commit to a specific website builder or website hierarchy, think about the functionalities you'll want your websites to have, and make a list of all the tools you’ll need on your sites. For example, a gym franchise may want to feature each location’s workout class schedule on their own page or domain. Or, a Mortgage lender with multiple locations may want to gather online applications for each separate location using an online application form. Take the time to list out the existing apps, software, or online tools you’re using for your business, and make sure they are compatible with the website builder you choose.

Once you have this list, start scheduling demos of content management systems (CMSs) and ask specifically about integrations with your current tools. Make sure they have the necessary integrations or know-how to embed your important online solutions before you start the design process.

Examples of Common Solutions for Franchisees Include:

  • Gyms and Spas: Appointment/Class Booking and Scheduling. (MINDBODY)

  • Restaurants: Reservations & Online Ordering. (OpenTable, GrubHub)

  • Mortgage Lenders: Online Loan Applications

3.) Think About What Content You’ll Need

Determining the types of content you’ll need will give you a better idea of how to layout your new website navigation. Take a look at what content you currently have, and what content will need to be written for your new website(s). Oftentimes, getting all the content and website assets together can become a bottleneck in website redesigns, so planning ahead of time can make the redesign process smoother and more efficient from the start. Our Website Content 101 guide offers tips on how to craft useful, high-quality website content.

Examples of common webpage types include:

Text-based content examples:

  • About Page

  • Service Pages

  • Contact Pages

  • Blogs

  • Team Member Pages

  • Testimonials Pages

Non text-based content examples:

  • Logos

  • Videos

  • Product/Service Photos

  • Icons

Learn More About Our Website Builder for Franchises

Now that you’ve thought about the structure, content, and functionality your websites will need, look for a website provider that can help you achieve all your franchise website goals. You’ll ideally want a solution that will grow with your business, so ask about any ongoing support or marketing services that may make it easier as you add locations down the line.

At SpaceCraft, our skilled designers can create a perfect franchise website template for your business. Our multi-site website builder provides managed access, branding consistency, and stunning design all within one easy-to-use CMS. Schedule your demo today to learn more.