Why & How to Do a Website Redesign
It can be tough to tie marketing spend to ROI. This can make it difficult to justify the time and money needed to ditch your existing website and, like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes, create a new site.
And, once you make the (smart!) decision to overhaul your underwhelming website, knowing where to begin with a redesign can be mystifying.
We totally get it. That’s why we want to help you push that rising sense of overwhelm or fuzzy feeling of confusion away. Keep reading to learn:
- Why you might want to redesign your website
- A general process for redesigning an existing site
- Dos and don’ts for a website redesign and development project
Why Redesign A Website, You Ask?
Let’s do a little thought experiment. See how you fare on the following pop quiz:
- If someone were to go to your website, would their first reaction be, “Yeesh! Did I just land back in 1998?!”
- Are there website elements that consistently fail to load, load as fast as cold molasses, or are just plain broken?
- Was the content on your site last touched when Gangnam Style was still all the rage (c. 2012…)?
If you answer, “Uh-huh” to any of these questions — or could answer in the affirmative to any similar ones — your website is in need of an overhaul.
Website Revamp Reasons
Actually, there is a number of reasons to redo your website. Here are some common motivators for putting an existing site into the worldwide wood chipper and building something sleek and modern:
- Your site is outdated. Like woefully, irrevocably, and rather impressively behind the times. This could present itself as old and incorrect content sitewide (e.g., copy, images, videos), antiquated formatting and flow, or obsolete features or functionality. The site works — it just ain’t as pretty, helpful or enjoyable, and efficient as it could be. It’s a limping horse that’s long in the tooth.
- The underpinnings of your site are ancient. As technology rockets ahead in time, web platforms, code, etc. can become deprecated (no longer updated or supported). This can leave your site vulnerable to breaks and security probs. It can also make it incredibly labor and cost intensive to maintain the system.
- Your site is B-R-O-K-E-N! As “web people” this is just plain painful for us to see because we know how critical it is to your biz to have a functional site. In this scenario, your site is rife with dead links, missing images, buttons or forms that spit back error messages, pages that don’t load, and so on. You’ve encountered these sites — ya know what broken is.
- Your site is a beast to update. Sometimes it’s not the front-end that inspires taking your site in a different direction. Maybe your website evolved into something quirky (being polite here) and is now so convoluted that only a specialized uber-computer-expert type can make the most innocuous tweaks. Maybe you want it to be easy enough for a regular person with general computer skills to be able to manage.
- Your site is underperforming. Yah, it could be the site itself that’s sabotaging conversions. You should definitely do something about that! Understanding where the hitches are and addressing them can require such significant work that a site redo is the best way forward.
- Your business or sector changed. Maybe your company or industry has pivoted (or whatever the kewl kids are calling it these days). Point being, what’s on your site doesn’t jibe with your current mission, products, services, etc. Your site is doing you a disservice because it doesn’t properly or adequately represent you.
- You’ve rebranded. Maybe in conjunction with a biz or management change, maybe not. It’s commonplace for an enterprise to refresh its branding — aesthetically as well as conceptually — every so often. It’s imperative that your website align with your new identity.
- Just because. It’s difficult to make a case for doing a major website refresh if your sole reason is ya wanna. But, it’s your site and your prerogative! (It’s like buying a new car every 2 years. Old one works fine, but the new one is better).
YES, You Need a Legit Website Strategy
Knowing that you need a new website is the first step. A website strategy is the best way to get across the finish line with full, strong strides (as opposed to limping).
A website strategy is the culmination of a website redesign project’s pre-production steps. It can be compiled into a single document or remain a centralized collection of files. Key components of a comprehensive website strategy might include:
- A statement of your current and future business needs and objective
- Functional requirements and corresponding technical specs for your website
- The state of your existing site and how it falls short
- A list of bottlenecks, pain points, and pitfalls users and administrators of your current site face
- Test plans and protocols
- Contingency plans
- Matrices of team members and their roles and responsibilities
- Roadmaps and development timelines
Technically, you could bypass this (but not with us as your web partner). You know that saying about “only fools rush in”?
Having a formal website strategy is just plain smart operating procedure. It lends legitimacy, clarity, and organization to what can be an otherwise soft and squishy project. A website strategy keeps everyone on task and rowing in the same direction. And, when unexpected issues come up (they will), you’ll be better prepared to deal with them swiftly and optimally.
Website Redesign Strategy Best Practices
At this point, you should be well versed in why you should bring your creative and commercial vision into fruition in the form of a sparkling new website.
But what about how to go about it? We thought you might like some sensible dos and don’ts. Keep these bad boys in mind as you’re contemplating or amid a website project. We promise they’ll blow away lots of friction!
Yes, DO These Things
- DO be prepared to spend some money. A high-quality website that ticks all the boxes and is produced by expert professionals will require some budget. It’s a fair and reasonable exchange.
- DO allocate people resources to the project. Probably not a newsflash, but if team members aren’t dedicated to the project it’s either not going to progress or it’s going to be a confusing mess (who’s responsible for what again?).
- DO brainstorm and articulate your needs and preferences. The best results come from projects that have aired all the requisite info, been collaborative and participatory, build consensus, etc. Have and use your voice, come to the table, and all those other applicable adages.
- DO document everything. Because projects can be done in discrete parts and extend over a months’ long horizon, writing stuff down can jog memories, facilitate staying on track, and be a great reminder of scope and expectations.
- DO expect hiccups. You know what “they” say about the best-laid plans. Anticipate that there will be snags or delays, often caused by things outside of your or Intuitive’s control. Sometimes, it’s new information that comes to light that puts a zig in our zag. These bumps or uncertainties may or may not be substantive or shift deliverables or timelines.
- DO consider possible scenarios. On the heels of our “hiccups” comment, it’s also smart to try being proactive and thinking ahead to possible website project snafus. Prepare some contingencies, just in case, to prevent the project from stalling out or going sideways.
- DO remember that websites are living documents. Even though you now have a beautiful, functional site today — you will need to maintain, refresh, and redo it in the tomorrows that are ahead. It’s important to keep your web presence aligned to your current business, audiences, market, regulatory, cultural, and technological norms.
No, DON’T DO These Things
- DON’T skimp. On time, attention, or investment paid to your website. This is often the world’s first impression of your biz — make it a favorable, effective, memorable, and useful one.
- DON’T get bogged down with the elusive idea of perfection. There will always be things you want to tweak. Likewise, there will always be tradeoffs for continual, unending fine-tuning. Sometimes done is better than perfect. Avoid tinkering to the point of needless delays and paralysis, which lead to your site not progressing.
- DON’T lose sight of the overarching goals. Letting your gaze drift from the prize can cause you to deviate in undesirable directions or have you getting so bogged down in minutiae that you aren’t actually helping you hit the milestones en route to your finish line.
- DON’T forget your other marketing, sales, and PR activities. Your website is one piece of the pie and should dovetail nicely into your complete portfolio of collateral. This means that poking around your site and perusing your print brochures should feel the same for customers in terms of messaging, voice, tone, and so on. If you’re addressing the same audience, trying to mobilize them towards the same action, you probs don’t want them thinking your brand has split personalities. Everything feeds into everything else and should reinforce your identity and mission.
OK, so How Do You Redesign an Existing Site?
We get it — that’s a lot of dos and don’ts. But, here’s the good news: Redesigning a site can be waaaaay easier than starting from net-zero, scratch. How do we figure this?
It’s like trying to write an essay. Staring at a blank page seems to somehow further erase your mind. But, if you begin with notes, an outline, and some examples — the words just tumble onto the paper.
If you have a website already and are committed to a redesign, this means you have experience with your site. This informs and facilitates the strategy and process.
Speaking of process…
Website Redesign Process
The exact process is going to vary for each company — everyone’s a unicorn. So, this is intended as an overview of a generic website redesign for which an agency like Intuitive has been hired to run the project and build the new site.
These are all the tasks like getting management buy-in, securing the necessary funding, and assembling an internal project team. It’s something you’d do in-house, prior to engaging an agency’s services. (Though you’ve likely already started chatting with agencies to solicit proposals and bids.)
In Partnership with Your Web Dev Agency
You’ve got all the ducks in a row internally and have signed on with an agency to do the web project. You’re on your way!
- Needs assessment. In this step, your project team will discuss what works and doesn’t with your current site, things you’d want to change, how the site fits into overall business goals and flows. By the end of this stage,you should have a consensus on things like the new site’s purpose and KPIs, key stakeholders, and so on.
- Site review. The agency will conduct a thorough audit of your existing website and site management process. This provides a beginning benchmark to move forward from.
- Gap analysis. This piece is where the agency discerns how far apart the current site is from the stated needs/goals. It can help guide the team on what next steps should be and how to proceed. It may reveal additional capabilities and inputs needed to accomplish the desired outcomes.
- Brainstorming and problem-solving. Armed with qualitative and quantitative info and data, you reach the part of the program that involves finding solutions to the challenges unearthed during the discovery phases. Collaborative ideation is the order of the day! The aim here is to determine and prioritize functional requirements, user flows, calls to action, etc.
- Creative design and technical planning. In this phase, the agency takes the outcomes of the previous step and translates them into design concepts and technical specifications. As you exit this part of the process, you should have a complete website design and an actionable website build plan — you know what your site will look and feel like, how visitors will move through it, and all the front- and back-end technical inclusions.
- Development. This is all about implementation! It’s definitely a rolling, iterative process — at least that’s the norm — but basically talented, hard-working web devs are creating the shell of your site and then filling in the framework. Style sheets are coded, infrastructure is set up and configured, any custom work is done. Content like webpage copy and images are loaded in. Everything’s taking shape.
- QA and testing. Your site is built. At this point it’s in a development (DEV) or user acceptance testing (UAT) environment so it can be reviewed in a non-public space. Usually, a site will go through multiple rounds of agency-side and client-side review. Each round rounds out rough edges — aka resolving bugs, fixing typos, filling content holes, and the like — and inches the site closer to completion. Once it’s ready for prime time, you’ll approve and sign off on the site, which signals it’s OK to push the site into a production (PROD) environment so it’s live on the WWW.
- Launch prep. You’ve blessed the new site so now your agency is getting everything set for that push to PROD. This usually involves creating Week Of, Day Of, and Post-Launch plans that lays out timelines, activities, and roles and responsibilities and includes any other relevant need-to-know info.
- Site launch. It’s Go Day! Your site is published and all the necessary redirects and needed domain adjustments are done. A period of downtime will occur during the switchover, which is why site deployments are often done during off-peak hours. Once all the behind-the-green-curtain activities are finished, a comprehensive sweep through the newborn site should be done — to make sure the rollout was perfection (and remediate problems if it wasn’t).
- Graciously accept kudos from management on a job well done! Amble around the room giving each other pats on the back. Everyone celebrates in their unique way…. The next day, as you’re coming down from Cloud 9, you’ll probably want to do a soft announcement — colleagues, family, and friends — of the new site. After a reasonable grace period, once you’re sure it’s A-OK, you can feel free to make a grander broadcast about your swanky and fresh website.
A #winning Website Redesign
There are many reasons to redesign your website. These can range from it being outdated or broken to your business or operating environment changing.
The process for redoing an existing site is actually rather simple when you boil it down. At the most basic level, it involves assessing current needs, reviewing the old site and doing a gap analysis, determining the most appropriate ways to achieve stated goals, and then building the new site so that those goals can be met.
Among other dos and don’ts, bear in mind that any website project requires an adequate budget and people power to be successful. It’s an investment in your business that can reap huge, ongoing rewards in a number of ways.
Luckily, you don’t have to do all this alone. Intuitive is here to help you navigate the ins and outs of redesigning your website. Just holler and let’s get shaking!