I recently spoke with a colleague who helped a neighbor launch a website for their retail shop as a freelancer. This was 10 years ago. The shop succeeded, but the website hasn’t been updated. Internet technology and design has changed a lot over the past 10 years. While the website was still functional, it didn’t look modern. The graphics looked stale. It wasn’t responsive as you scrolled through the site.
Even if your website is still working for you, there are a number of reasons to modernize it. Your website may be older or underperforming. These key steps for a successful website redesign will help you get the most out of the process.
Here are key steps for a successful website redesign.
Have clear objectives.
If part of your problem with your current website is that inventory management is difficult, put that issue right up front with your developer. If you want easier and more robust social media integration, you might prioritize a page on your site for user generated content, such as sharing Instagram photos, or posting videos. You might want an easier way to upload, change and manage photos. Think carefully about your goals and prioritize them.
Designate a decision-making process.
We’ve worked on numerous website development projects over the years. One of the issues we’ve seen repeatedly is project delays and mismanagement due to a lack of decision making. If you want approval power yourself, then set aside time to make the key decisions in a timely manner. If you are in a situation where you have to make decisions by committee, clearly set out when and how those decisions will be made. Determine ahead of time who will make the final decisions about copy, images, colors, fonts, and timelines. Will someone have veto power?
We’ve worked with people who fiercely protect their days off. We agree and know that time away from work is important. But if you plan to be away from the office for any length of time, designate someone who can answer questions and make decisions in your absence. Delays along the way mess up the timeline for everyone working on the project.
Decide on a way to communicate.
Our office uses Google Docs. This system allows everyone who is shared on a document to view it and make changes. It’s a great way to communicate steps and timelines in one place. There are many ways to communicate and share materials: thumb drives, Google Docs, FTP, email, Dropbox. Pick one primary way to communicate with everyone on the project.
We’ve had delays on projects due to some material being placed as a comment in a document, some being shared via thumb drive, some via email, and some over the phone. It’s hard to keep track of it all and some of it can get lost, which brings confusion and delays.
Organize your assets.
Take stock of what assets you are already using on your website, before making any changes. Locate your high-resolution logo files, customer testimonials, videos, and anything else you have on the website that you want to use again. Gather materials you know you want to add to your new site, such as employee photos and bios. Put all of the new and old material in one place and give someone else access to that content.
Empower a responder.
We’ve experienced project delays due to the contact point at the company not fully understanding what to do. For instance, the company receptionist may be the one fielding incoming calls and emails with questions about where materials are or who to get them from. He or she may be asked to send a document via Dropbox, but he or she doesn’t know where the material is or who has it. They may not know who originally sent that email with the really important document you now can’t find.
If you’re communicating via email and requests are going out that are cc’d to a number of people, the people on that email may not know which of them should take action. Or, someone may respond while another person is off seeking the information. Confusion and delays like these are avoidable if you designate one person to manage the project. Requests for materials or information go to one person and they have access to all of it.
You will want to monitor what kind of improvements in traffic, bounce rate, cart fulfillment and other measures your new website gives you. Document your current statistics before any changes are made to better measure your return on the investment. Measure your current standing on search results so you know what gains you are making and how fast.
Work closely with your developer to monitor what pages on your current website are performing well, so those stay in place. When your new website is rebuilt, you will want to be sure that no one is getting “Page not found” errors by clicking on old links that go nowhere, or redirects that may cause loss of traffic.
The more you plan, the better.
The more you plan for a website redesign, the more successful you will be. Yes, a skilled developer will be able to guide the process and ask the right questions along the way, but the more prepared you are up front with these strategies already in place the easier it will be for everyone. These key steps for a successful website redesign will help your project get off the ground in an organized and efficient manner before you even have the first conversation.