Q: I’m finally ready to fully overhaul my website, where do I begin?
A: Making the initial decision – and resulting commitment – to completely redesign your website, can be intimidating. No matter how simple or complex your website is, a website redesign is a project that requires strategic planning, expert execution, and reliable project management throughout. If you’re ready to take the plunge, following are some thoughts for getting started:
- Define Your Goals:
- Why are you redesigning your site now and what do you want to get out of the process?
- What are your current website performance benchmarks (e.g., existing Organic rankings, onsite engagement, conversion rate, etc.) and how do you want them to change / remain the same with the new website?
- Outline Your Project Scope: You will need to answer all these questions – and more – to ensure you can accurately outline what your project entails and how you’re going to accomplish those tasks.
- What is the focus and scope of your redesign?
- What are you “keeping” from your present website and what needs to be redone or replaced?
- Are you refreshing aesthetic “look and feel” only or revamping the entire website from navigation through design and build?
- Are you currently utilizing a Content Management System (CMS) and staying on it? Or are you re-platforming to a new system? Have you selected the CMS yet or does phase I of your project need to include defining system criteria, researching and vetting options, and making a final choice?
- Do you have other systems that your website needs to integrate with (such as a CRM, order processing/fulfillment, online client portal, etc.)?
- What will your mobile plan be and how will you approach responsive design?
- Select Your Team: Who will be collaborating on your redesign? Whether you’re doing all the work “in-house” or hiring outside vendor(s), there are a lot of skill sets that will come into play with your project, including:
- Project Management
- Aesthetic Design
- Frontend Coding
- Backend Programming
- SEO Planning & Validation (here’s an SEO Technical Checklist to help get you on your way)
- Usability Strategy & Testing
- Analytics Setup and Deployment
- Schedule Your Project Timeline / Phasing: Once you know why you are redesigning, what your redesign entails, and who will be working on the project, you can better schedule what the phases or milestones of your project will be – and how you will approach them. Some elements of a redesign, are dependent on preceding ones. For example, you cannot fully complete your content creation until you know what pages will be on your website (i.e., you have completed the navigation plan and information architecture / site map). While other tasks can happen simultaneously – you can be writing new copy while aesthetic design mockups are underway. From a different perspective, some elements may not be “core” to the project – like adding new functionality, tools or widgets – and may be able to be phased after the initial launch in order to not hold up the entire project schedule. Understanding project dependencies and priorities will allow you to formulate a clear, realistic schedule and plan for what items must be included in each phase of the project.
For even more information about planning a successful website redesign download our Ultimate Guide to Website Redesign.