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What to consider before a web site redesign.

June 8th, 2011  |  Published in Website Design, WordPress  |  2 Comments

Approach website redesign with cautionWhen approaching the significant task of website redesign, it’s not an overstatement to say that there’s a lot to consider.

Mike Volpe, VP of marketing at HubSpot , attempted to construct a comprehensive list of what this undertaking might entail. However, one glaring item appeared to be missing and should not be overlooked.

Align your expectations with reality.

For those considering the significant undertaking of website redesign, they should be prepared to align the compensation of a professional services provider to all of the value that this list outlines. It therefore makes sense to seek professionals with experience who have demonstrated success in your business category. They should also have a hands-on track record of investing in, understanding and applying their skills to address all of the continually changing dynamics of the Internet.

In addition, they should know how to maximize the potential of the most important component of marketing that you must have to succeed—your website.

Like never before, you get what you pay for. And there has never been a greater inventory of low cost providers who cannot meet all of the requirements outlined in this list.

Digital marketing requirements you can’t ignore.

Before you dive into a redesign or development effort for a new site, look this list over to get up to speed on how many digital, strategy and content components you’re going to have to address and successfully connect. It may expose a number of dimensions and requirements that you may not have considered.

  1. Find someone to advise you on SEO, social media and marketing, in addition to the actual design.
  2. Know the basics to have an intelligent conversation with a designer and ask good questions.
  3. You really need to be able to commit to the website redesign process fully.
  4. Get referrals for agencies from companies who have websites you like.
  5. Do it for the right reason: that you want to improve performance.
  6. Don’t do a redesign because it’s been a while and you want a new look.
  7. Don’t do a website redesign for redesign’s sake.
  8. Know who your buyer personas are, and know your current stats so you have a benchmark.
  9. Don’t think you know what your customers want… Ask them!
  10. Understand what your website is doing (or not doing) for you now. Then think about how to improve.
  11. Make sure to measure existing stats so you have a benchmark for post redesign
  12. Plan for it to take longer than expected.
  13. Do your research to find how an average user behaves and interacts with websites.
  14. Get a copywriter involved in the project.
  15. Plan, plan, plan. These redesigns need to be planned down to the wire or they will never maintain the initial launch dates and project milestones.
  16. Combine marketing, social web activities and overall business goals. Make the site “conversational”, don’t do a static, electronic brochure.
  17. If you change web page URLs, use a 301 redirect for each page!
  18. Get input from as many people informed of the user experience. What Marketing thinks people will do is often not what happens.
  19. Get your objectives, priorities in order & don’t forget to add ways in leading more people to your website by lead generation.
  20. Do usability testing before and afterwords.
  21. Assure that all stakeholders are on board and that the vision is unquestionably clear.
  22. Don’t get bogged down by internal opinions of the site – at the end of the day, only the opinions of your customers and prospects matters.
  23. Make sure it is easy to navigate through and offer high value content for download.
  24. Focus on the user experience.
  25. Be sure you understand the limited effects of redesigning an already well-designed site.
  26. Your site will / should never be “done”, so start small and iterate.
  27. It’s not a “release and forget it model.” Websites should be organic, iterative.
  28. Take your time – but don’t take so much time that your “look” is already dated
  29. Measure before and after
  30. Have more reasons than “want a new look”.
  31. Whatever you think you know, you don’t. To reorder your universe, redesign the web site.
  32. Establish metrics up front and measure them at the back
  33. Test, test, test!
  34. Test the new website thoroughly to ensure a successful user experience
  35. State specific goals. Phase the project. Designate a re-design team from within your company, be sure to include sales, marketing and technical representatives.
  36. Have a realistic web strategy and solid content generators.
  37. Do not use flash.
  38. Understand that the majority of the work will be done before the first line of code or graphic layout is begun: it’s all about content!
  39. Know what you’re getting into.
  40. Make it easy to navigate.
  41. Perform usability testing and get feedback from real users, not employees or agencies.
  42. Don’t just focus on aesthetics, remember your pages already have SEO juice and not to change the URL.
  43. Keep an open mind to change.
  44. Set the objectives up front and constantly refer to them to prevent straying off-course.
  45. Prepare for it to take several months.
  46. Use testing to see how easy it is for your users to achieve their goals.
  47. Host several planning meetings in advance.
  48. Find out if it is necessary. Sometimes, the website may just need some items rearranged for best results as well as lead generation featured added in.
  49. Get the strategy right first.
  50. Be sure to work with a vendor that is good at project management, or have someone extremely competent on your side lead the project. don’t forget all the little things.
  51. It takes longer, and costs more, than planned.
  52. Launch it and then fix the holes.
  53. Always plan for more review cycles than you think will actually happen.
  54. Begin at the end – be GOAL oriented.
  55. Focus on the desired business results and work back.
  56. Have deadlines for smaller, broken down goals as you start the website redesign.
  57. Plan well, communicate well, make adjustments as needed (because change happens).
  58. Consider all those affected. Not just the end user. Marketing, Sales and other departments may have valuable input and have not shared it.
  59. Design for optimization and for leads!
  60. Align website redesign goals with business goals prior to a website redesign.
  61. Set realistic goals and plan, plan, plan.
  62. Be aware of what your ultimate goals for the website are before you start your redesign.
  63. Review contractor progress daily or weekly; monthly is not enough.
  64. Research your web site designers carefully! Think outside of the box when choosing one. The one with the most experience in your industry is not always the best choice.
  65. Find a good developer, never pay up front, ensure that they work across timezones if you need to, and that they implement every change, every time.
  66. Do as much internal as possible and still have a good looking, functional site.
  67. Be realistic about how long it will take.
  68. Know your audience and the message in order to drive an effective strategy.
  69. You’d better have your ducks in a row before starting. Know what you expect the outcome of the project to be before you engage with a firm.
  70. Plan SEO in advance.
  71. Call to actions are key! Eliminate any extraneous content that does not serve the purpose of furthering next step toward sale.

What else?

Share your thoughts on other considerations that may have been left out. Looking forward to hearing from you.


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  • Jim Boyer

    Evidently the better the ‘pre-planning’ the more efficient and seemingly simple web design.

  • http://www.teamworkscom.com Pruneau

    Thanks for the comment Jim.
    I’m not sure that web design and simple always go hand in hand. As the post discloses, there is a lot to consider, design and ultimately build to end up with a solution that meets today’s web site requirements and customer needs.
    Somehow, I don’t think that web design will ever be as simple as the good old days of DTP.

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Paul Pruneau, and Teamworks Communications, Inc., develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create integrated online and Content Marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. Follow Paul on Twitter, connect on Google+, send an email or just call 415.789.5830.

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