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How to Take Control of Your Next Website Redesign

Before diving into your website redesign, it’s critical to understand why and when to initiate the project. Although the reasons for website redesign may vary from one organization to the next, there are certain signs that make it clear that it’s time for a redesign.

What Triggers the Need for Website Redesign?

You will know it’s time for redesign if your company is undergoing significant changes such as a rebrand; a change in marketing or business direction; or a merger or acquisition. Also, it’s time for a redesign if any of the statements below describe your current website:

  • The website no longer supports your business and marketing goals, does not make a good first impression, and/or might be out of alignment with your brand
  • It does not deliver a rewarding user experience – for example, it’s difficult to navigate, or it’s not mobile-compatible
  • It’s not built on a content management system, and your marketing team is unable to make ongoing updates in-house
  • It does not have a strong lead generation and conversion strategy
  • It’s not optimized for search engines, causing your company to lose the most valuable prospects – those who are searching for your expertise right now

Have questions? Contact us to schedule a free web audit.


Taking Control of Website Redesign

Now that you made a decision to redesign, how do you manage the process effectively? Follow these best practices for seamlessly navigating what otherwise can be a complicated process.

Pre-Plan Properly

Although outside consultants are great at asking the right questions, building consensus, and facilitating a smooth process, it still pays to do a little homework prior to releasing a request for proposal. Here’s what your team should do during pre-planning:

  • Agree on the goals for the website redesign and how you will define and measure success
  • Study your current analytics to better understand what visitors are looking for on your website and how they move through it
  • Put together a wish list of website features and functionality, and separate “must-haves” from “good-to-haves” in case you need to streamline the scope of work to fit your budget
  • Identify any technologies and systems that will need to be integrated with your website (e.g., customer relationship management system, accounting software, email marketing platform, HR systems) as these will affect website development and may influence your choice of content management system
  • Determine your budget, which should be based on your goals and your vision for the new website – consider coming up with a range so that you have more flexibility when finalizing your wish list
  • Determine your timeline, taking into consideration any significant events or milestones as well as a solid understanding of how much time your internal team can dedicate to the project on a weekly basis
  • Decide whether you will handle the website redesign internally or outsource
  • Choose your internal decision-making team (include the person who has the ultimate veto or approval power), keeping in mind that including a large number of people always will increase the cost and length of the project

Also read: 5 Must-Ask Questions for Getting Your Website Right.

In-House Versus Outsourced

To determine whether or not to outsource, assess your internal team’s skills in the following areas:

  • User experience and information architecture
  • Digital branding and marketing
  • Graphic interface and design
  • Content strategy and copywriting
  • Internet marketing strategy
  • Front-end and back-end coding
  • Content management systems evaluation and implementation

If your internal team has all or most of the above skills, decide whether your company also has the flexibility to dedicate that team to the website redesign project for months.


Need more help planning your redesign? Download our Ultimate Website Redesign Planning Guide.


Selecting Your Internal Decision-Making Team

Regardless of whether you will redesign your website in-house or outsource some or all of it, taking great care in selecting who will be involved internally is critical.

Ideally, you will build a “power team” for your day-to-day project coordination and management – 3 to 5 individuals typically works best. You will have a chance to collect input and perspectives from a larger team during the planning phases.

Make sure those you choose have the ability to push the project along and stay focused, and tangentially, get clear on who is responsible for all final decisions and approvals. Engaging someone from the management team who has a voice at the leadership table and a passion for the project will help to ensure that the website redesign remains a priority.

This small team will present to the larger leadership team and, if applicable, board at the end of each critical phase.

Identify Success Metrics

A website redesign is an expensive project, so you’ll want to show results. Begin by identifying key success indicators based on the goals of your website redesign and by taking “before and after” snapshots – specifically of the areas where you know your current website is lacking.

Consider a few valuable “before and after” metrics, including these:

  • Time and cost of updating the current website versus the new site that has improved content management tools and administrative workflow
  • Bounce rate on most important pages (the percentage of visitors that leave your site from that page)
  • Page load speed (a major influencer of bounce)
  • Internal and external stakeholder perceptions
  • Search engine rankings for top keywords and phrases
  • Leads captured

Maintain Momentum

Once your pre-planning is complete and you’ve selected the metrics that your company will measure, it’s time to get started. Whether working with internal teams or outsourcing, many companies struggle to keep a website redesign project moving forward.

These tips will help to make sure that your website redesign doesn’t come to a dead stop:

  • Treat your website redesign project like any other project – with real timelines, task schedules, review and approval process, and tracking of costs against budget
  • Ensure that the internal web team uses its decision-making power to keep the project moving
  • Make sure that everyone understands how missing deadlines will affect the established budget
  • Should your organization become stalled at any point in the process, talk to your agency – they’ve done hundreds of website redesign projects and will be able to help you get unstuck

Still have questions? Contact us to schedule a free web audit.


Finally, Avoid These Mistakes

Even if you have full control over the website redesign project, there’s still room for errors – including making decisions that hold things up or that result in an inferior final product. Here are the most common website redesign mistakes we see companies make:

1. Neglecting to look beyond your own backyard. Examine what others in your industry and outside your industry are doing. This not only will give you ideas for your new site but also will help you feel confident in the choices you ultimately make.

2. Skimping on your upfront strategy. Jumping into design and development without putting sufficient time and thought into overall website strategy and information architecture almost always result in significant cost increase due to changes in direction later in the project.

3. Setting an insufficient budget. Your budget needs to be big enough to achieve one thing: your website goals. Invest enough to get what your company really needs – it will pay off in results in the long run.

4. Setting an unrealistic timeline. Build in appropriate time for each phase of the project. Most agencies you hire can move as fast as you let them, whereas your internal team may not be able to set everything aside for the web redesign project. Most importantly, remember that this is a substantial investment and getting it done sooner should not be at the expense of doing it right.

5. Allowing too many decision makers. Internal stakeholder input is critical and should be built into your initial website strategy and site architecture phase, but if you want your website to ever see the light of day, you should select a small and decisive group of people to participate in the ongoing review and approval process that cycles throughout the project.

6. Exploring design before content. The days of designing a website first by filling it with “greeking” placeholder copy are long gone. Today, content drives everything. In fact, design’s role is to present your company’s content in a meaningful way that creates a rewarding user experience and drives action. Therefore, you absolutely must design around content – not the other way around.

7. Forgetting about lead generation and capture. If you simply aim to make a good impression with your company’s redesigned website, you’re going to miss out on significant ROI. Today’s websites no longer are merely validation of a company’s existence. They are proactive marketing machines that guide visitors along a strategically architected path (based on each buyer’s journey) with the goal of generating and capturing leads.

8. Ignoring SEO. “Nobody buys our services from the website!” We hear this refrain from our professional service company clients again and again. Even though that may be technically true, today’s buyers are savvy and self-directed and rely heavily on the internet to find and evaluate services companies. While getting your site on the first page in Google may be too lofty a goal, you should at least make sure that your website and its content are optimized for your specialized expertise.

9. Assuming your website is done. A website is not a “set it and forget it” one-time project. It’s a continuous process that requires tracking, measuring and refining. Even if you conduct complete redesigns somewhat frequently, you should not ignore the need for ongoing adjustments and improvements in between. Make sure your annual marketing budget includes time, money and staff resources allocated for ongoing website projects. Also read: You’re Right to Think You Need a Different Website.

Certainly, there are many decisions to make when it comes to redesigning your company’s website, as well as many pitfalls to avoid. Understanding the process, your company’s goals, and its audiences’ needs plus what’s possible with today’s marketing-focused sites will set you up for success.

Free Download

Your Ultimate Guide to a Website Redesign

Navigating your company through a website redesign is not an easy task, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. For more detailed information on the entire process from planning through post-launch, checklists and tips on avoiding common mistakes, download this e-guide.

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At Substance151, we assist organizations in developing powerful brands and translating them into websites that carve out a competitive edge. Contact us at brand@substance151.com or call 410-732-8379 and let’s talk about taking your website to the next level.