It seems that no matter how proactive, interactive or innovative your overall marketing is, a website redesign project will need to happen at some point in your company’s marketing life. As a veteran team of web redesigners (strategists, developers, designers and interactive project managers), we all agree that these projects are tough. They take work.
But they don’t have to be painful.
As a team, we’ve come to embrace three truths of website redesign projects that help make them more more effective, efficient and enjoyable.
#1: Planning: Create a foundation, then expect change.
The spectrum of website redesign plans looks something like this:
Both are equally bad and can end up causing more pain down the road.
“Website planning isn’t a linear process. Yes, you need to get the foundation down to make sure the whole team can get going, but understand that things will evolve and shift as you uncover more insights throughout copywriting, design, development and content population,” says Ashley Bails, Marketing Strategist.
We’ve adopted an iterative approach to planning. While we don’t budge on defining some things like core functionality, high-level navigation and overall objectives, the whole website redesign team (both agency and client side) should expect and embrace change.
The best approach is to have frequent and candid communication about what is in/out for the initial launch, what ideas are being tabled for a future release, and how to keep the project moving forward.
#2: Objectives: Sometimes making a site more attractive is enough; most of the time, it’s not.
“A common website objective is ‘I just want it to look good,’ or ‘It needs to be a better representation of my brand online.’ And those are important objectives. But more often than not, when the project is underway, we’ll hear things like, ‘Yes, I definitely want people to be able to find my site!’” says Beth Huffaker, Senior Account Executive.
The catalyst for starting most website redesign projects is dissatisfaction with how the site looks. The challenge is that this thinking creates a knee-jerk reaction of “make it look better” without considering what is really broken about the site in the first place. If a site isn’t showing up in search, isn’t getting great traffic and isn’t helping produce leads/close sales, the problem isn’t just design.
The good news?
Every business’s site can be beautiful. And tell a story. And help drive leads or sales. Great sites do all three. According to Leanne Prewitt, Creative Director, the trick is not to sacrifice one objective for another:
- Don’t be tempted to make the site so cool looking that people can’t figure out how to use it.
- Don’t focus so much on lead generation that you leave out the story that will compel people to engage with your brand in the first place.
It’s about balance. It’s about art and science. And to build a great site, you have to do both.
#3: Timeline: A website redesign doesn’t need to be perfect to launch.
Give up on perfect. Trust me. It will save you a lot of heartaches and headaches.
This doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be good—or great even. And it doesn’t excuse broken links or typos. But giving up perfection means that there are always going to be more, better, greater things that you can add to your site. If you continually add to your scope and timeline with the goal of building a perfect site, it will almost certainly be outdated by the time you launch.
“Websites are a living, breathing aspect of your brand that require ongoing maintenance. Part of that is understanding that it doesn’t have to be perfect at launch while also understanding that work on the site will continue even after it’s live,” says Beth Huffaker, Senior Account Executive.