So it’s time to update your website and refresh your brand (check out more on this subject here). How do you make your website redesign process smooth and successful. Since we have extensive experience updating websites over the past 20 years, here are some lessons learned that we would like to share. Keep these in mind as you approach your website refresh.
IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF A WEBSITE REDESIGN
- Goals: What do you want your new website to achieve? Get very clear on your objectives to help maximize your redesign effort and outcomes. Make sure that your new design aligns with your vision and priorities. When defining your layouts and capabilities, it can be helpful to know whether you are focused on lead generation, brand awareness or content creation.
- Design: What elements of your brand are important to emphasize? Make sure your new design and layout captures your company’s personality. Does your messaging have the right tone? Are your brand values accurately reflected in a way that will speak to employees, customers and prospects? Too often websites are created as separate entities that don’t closely correlate with other marketing elements, which can actually be counterproductive. Your website is like your store front and it should be an extension of your overall branding that is closely integrated with all other aspects of your sales, marketing and communications strategy.
- Functionality: Does your site accomplish what it needs to? If you want to drive client engagement, are you creating opportunities for interactions with customers? For lead generation purposes, do you have sufficient calls to action that are easily identifiable and aligned with your marketing and sales funnel? Be sure that in addition to incorporating the right site components, you allocate sufficient resources to maintain any new features to support your growth. An under-resourced site may not be sustainable and will reflect badly on your brand. Better to have less features that are well supported than snazzy functionality or news that is not kept current.
CHALLENGES TO ANTICIPATE
Consider these issues before you get ready for your redesign:
- Insufficient Planning: Many underestimate what is needed to create a new website. A complete website includes not just the design, but relevant content to convey your value proposition, testing to ensure the functionality works, hosting to keep the site active, SEO/SEM to optimize search engine visibility, usability to enhance the navigation experience and performance measurement to track usage. Have you considered and addressed all of these important components of your site.
- Site Specifications: Have all your design requirements been clearly identified? Do you understand all aspects of your design proposal so that you’re not surprised by any additional charges that weren’t anticipated? Did you conduct due diligence on your agency? Make sure that all the features you require are clearly stated so you understand what is, and is not included.
- Scope creep: Define all your needs up front to stay on budget and to launch on time. If you want to add additional functionality, consider the cost/benefit of changing your current plan to incorporate new elements vs. planning a second phase in the future. Changes may complicate your launch, resulting in increased costs and additional work that may impact your delivery timeline.
- Content requirements: Have you prepared all the information that is needed for your new design and optimized the messaging for search engines. Putting in place a content map can help you clearly anticipate all the new writing that will be needed. It can be helpful to identify what is staying and what needs to be modified or created from scratch. Does your writing have a consistent voice so the whole site looks and sounds consistent? If you are having multiple sources contribute content, make sure to have one person editing the whole for continuity.
- Timing: Do you have a clear sense of the required deliverables and the best time to launch? Can you introduce your new site over a weekend or are you planning to coordinate the timing with a news announcement or event? Does your content management system let you schedule new site cutover or does someone need to manually manage this process and then validate everything? Are there other dependencies to take into consideration? Create a comprehensive project plan that includes any other communications that need to be coordinated.
- Testing: Make sure you have a test plan in place and dedicated resources to review the site before going live. Validate that all your links are working and all elements of the new site are functional.
Keeping these elements in mind will help you prepare for your website launch. Here is some perspective on when it may make sense to refresh your website. It can also make a difference to have the right partners supporting your website – from the designers to the site developers and SEO specialists to the content specialists. If you are looking for a reliable, experienced resource, we can help with your brand vision, website redesign and launch and content development. Contact us if you would like to arrange complimentary Strategy Session to review your current site and whether now might be a good time for a refresh.