Are you avoiding a website redesign like the bubonic plague, a double root canal and that creepy girl from The Ring combined? Is that because you’ve had a horrific web development experience in the past? Avoid a repeat performance by preparing yourself, your team and your chosen design and development firm for a smooth process that ends with an effective marketing tool.
1. Determine Your Needs. Before you even look for a design and development firm, seek a proposal or sign a contract, determine why you need a new website. Are you currently without one? Does it need to do something new? Does it look dated? Are you rebranding? Maybe you need to start over for SEO or online marketing purposes. Knowing this will help you communicate with your designer and developer.
2. Keep it simple. Don’t add unnecessary bells and whistles that just confuse the user and make things complicated. Figure out what you need and figure out the simplest way to accomplish that. Just like everything from toys to cars, the more working parts, the more problems.
3. Set goals. Depending on your needs, these goals may be internal or they may be in conjunction with the web design firm. These should include everything from what you want the website to do to what messages you want to convey.
4. Research other sites. See what’s out there! Take a look at what your competitors are doing. Look at sites across all industries and be specific about what you like and what you don’t like.
5. Make MUST-HAVE and MUST-NOT-HAVE lists. Love the color blue? Hate left-side navigation? Make a note of these things and let your designer/developer know what your site absolutely needs to have or do, plus it absolutely must not have or do.
6. Sketch out the structure. Work with your firm to layout the navigation of the site in a wireframe. Answer questions like how many pages will there be and what will each do, how will the navigation be laid out and what kind of content will go on each page.
7. Develop all your content. Before anyone even starts a design, you should have gathered all of your content for each and every page. This means every picture, every testimonial, every document, all the copy, etc. If you’re an e-commerce site, this can be a daunting task but if you don’t do it up front, you’ll hold up the entire process and waste a lot of time.
8. Make a (reasonable) timeline. Determine how long you have to gather content, how long it will take to design, how long it will take for revisions and how long it will take to develop. It’s also important to set a timeframe for responses. For example, should each party be responsible for responding to revisions within 48 hours? Three business days?
9. Dedicate a team. Find some people within your company who will focus on this site and see it through to the finish. The ideal size is 3-5, depending on the size of your company. If you have too few or too many people, it’s much more challenging to get things done.
10. Ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask! It’s probably not a good idea to bombard your firm with daily questions about every little detail, but you should feel comfortable with what’s happening. Be willing to do a little research yourself (just Google it!), but ask questions if you truly don’t understand something.
What other tips would you add? Share your story about a website redesign experience – good or bad! Comment below to share your thoughts.