Preparing for a Website Redesign
So you’re ready to get started on a website redesign, you’ve hired a designer or agency you get along with, and you’re excited to get started. What now? We’ll walk you through some of the steps to help you prepare so that the process is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. We love this stuff, but we know it can be overwhelming!
Set your goals.
- By setting measurable and realistic objectives now, you’ll be able to ensure that the whole project is successful. If your overall goal is to increase sales through your website, maybe a more measurable goal is to increase traffic to a certain section or page on your website.
- The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to track results. Increasing sales is a fine goal, but knowing your current traffic, and previous growth numbers, will allow you to decide by what percent you would like to increase traffic, which will help you create steps to reach that goal.
- Some of your goals may be interconnected and related; ordering them by priority will help organize the project.
Review your content.
- A good place to start is making a list of things you think do and don’t work well on your existing website. This could be visual, but also have a look through the content. The more familiar you are with your own site, the more effective our kick-off discussion will be. Does the site reflect the state of your business and branding, or where your business and branding is headed? Does the navigation make sense, or is there content that is difficult to find? Have you received any feedback from your website users that could be useful? We will also help you examine these things in more detail through a website audit during our in-depth Discovery process.
- Is your content up-to-date? Now is a good time to get rid of that page you don’t need anymore because it describes a product or service you no longer offer. Do you have time before the project starts to read through the whole website and make a plan for changes? The content doesn’t have to be perfect before the project starts, but it might be a good use of your time to work on content updates while the designers get started, so that your new website will be fully up-to-date and look great when it launches! If you don’t have time for this step or are interested in using this website redesign as an opportunity to look at your overall content, we also offer content strategy, information architecture, and copywriting services.
- Have you looked at your analytics lately? We usually ask to see this information in advance of the kick-off, and if this is something that’s outside of your comfort zone, we have the expertise to glean important information from these reports that we can explain to you in detail. If you don’t have Google analytics installed yet, you could install it now before the project starts. While a year or more worth of analytics is the most helpful, having a month or two is better than nothing, and still gives a snapshot of how people find you, where they linger on your site, and what path they take. If Google analytics aren’t an option for you, you could also look into your current hosting program’s internal analytics, or a more visual alternative, like Crazy Egg (www.crazyegg.com).
- Before the kick-off meeting it’s also a good idea to have a look at some other websites, both your competitors and any other websites you come across. Take note of elements you like and don’t like, things like layout, colors, imagery, and navigation. We will walk through examples during the kick-off meeting, but if you have some time to think about what you like and don’t like (in the context of your brand, market, and goals) ahead of time, it will make the design gut-check an even more in-depth and helpful exercise.
Know your audience.
- Who visits your site and what do they do there? Who do you want to visit your site and what do you want them to find there? User Personas is a user experience (UX) design exercise that we will guide you through during the kick-off meeting, to help us gain a full understanding of your audience(s). Knowing more about who visits the site and what actions they need to take helps guide our information architecture design, content strategy, and overall visual design. Here are a few questions to help you prepare:
- What are the people who visit your site looking to accomplish?
- What do they need to do on your site? Looking at your analytics can help give you some insights: How long do people linger on pages, and what’s the order of pages they visit/the path they take?
- Here is a little more information about the user persona exercise we will lead you through to help you prepare: https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/personas.html
Build your internal team.
- Determine who the project point-person will be on your end. The project manager needs to be available for weekly or bi-weekly check-in calls, and to schedule review meetings and milestones, and sometimes for emails in-between the check-in calls. This person doesn’t have to be the ultimate decision maker, but it should be someone who has access to the decision maker(s), and who has the authority to manage the project. The majority of the communication will move between our internal project manager and your internal project manager.
- Do you have a website committee? This committee should include the decision makers and project manager. If you have other staff who frequently use the site, you could also invite them to be on the committee. It’s best if this committee is between 3 and 6 people, too many more than that and reaching a consensus may be difficult. Are there any board members who would like to be on the committee? If the board has a marketing committee, it may be a good idea to invite those members. Alternatively, you could also ask the board to elect a representative who can serve on the website committee and act as go-between to report back to the board.
- Once you have the committee assembled it would be good to also identity a decision maker. A department director, President, or CEO would be a good option, unless they will be too busy to participate in meetings. The decision maker doesn’t have to attend every check-in call, but they will be needed for key review meetings. We use approval forms at crucial steps along the project, and the decision maker or project manager will need to sign these forms.
Review your schedule.
- Are there any important dates or events coming up that may impact the project schedule (conferences, product releases, etc)?
- Is there a certain date by which the new site needs to go live?
- Are there any dates throughout the project during which the decision makers are unavailable (vacations, holidays, other travel, etc)?
Familiarize yourself with the tools.
- Every good design team uses project management and organizational tools. Now is a great time to familiarize yourself with these tools and ask any questions that may come up. We here at Ciampa Creative use Trello and sometimes Slack. We often hop on a call to walk through how we like to use these tools to simplify project management and make communication more efficient. The more comfortable everyone involved is with the tools and processes, the simpler the project will be.
- Make sure to read all materials carefully and ask any questions. We usually schedule a call or meeting to discuss every step along the way, and any important documents. The earlier we can answer questions, the better. We would always rather take an extra few minutes to clarify any uncertainties as soon as they come up.
Remember: While this is a big project and will take lots of work, it should also be fun for everyone involved! We’re excited to get started, are you?