How to Avoid a Disastrous Website Redesign
If you’re an inbound marketer, a website redesign should aim to provide clear conversion paths, engage with your target audience, reduce clutter, improve readability and better reflect your brand personality. However, more often than not - companies tend to over-analyze the process, get too caught up in aesthetic details, or underestimate the actual amount of work it takes, and end up with a giant mess on their plates — too many goals, not enough planning, and nobody stepping up to make a firm decision. When developing a new website, each change should serve a valid purpose and have a plan behind it so that it gets completed. Below are few ways you can dodge disaster — and avoid pulling all of your hair out — and re-launch your website as smoothly as possible.
1. Establish specific goals and objectives.
Plan out your redesign from start to finish to avoid confusion down the road. Meet with managers and designers and discuss what you want your website to do. How will it accentuate your brand image? How will it compare to competitor sites? Will you recycle content from your current site or overhaul it? If your website can do only one thing, what should that thing be? From there, establish a project timeline and assign every team member a specific role. Be sure to schedule regular meetings and encourage communication. Too often, websites fail due to incongruent business and design perspectives.
2. Balance involvement and efficiency.
Key stakeholders, managers and designers should all have a say in the project. However, waiting for feedback from too many people at every stage can create major delays. Narrowing down your team helps ensure that your website has clear, consistent functions that match company goals.
3. Be attentive, but don’t be a helicopter mom!
From wireframes to design to proofs to web development, your feedback and knowledge is crucial to a successful new website launch. Don't sit back and assume that everything will turn out the way you want. Designers need creative freedom and often have trouble communicating why they made something the way they did - but that doesn’t mean you can’t check in with them at each stage and give them clear, honest guidance. At the end of the day, remember you hired someone else to make your website because you did not have the resources or know-how to complete this task yourself. Don't hover over their shoulder or call them eight times a day. If they send you project files, look, but don't modify. Even small changes can disrupt the flow and timeline of the project. Tell the designer what changes you'd like to see, and leave implementation to them. They're professionals who know how to transform ideas into action, that’s why you hired them.
4. Prepare for a long development process.
5. Choose the right time to launch.
After your marketing team gives a nod of approval to the finished product and your developers quality check their work, it's time for the site to go live. This process can be instant, or it may take up to two days. During this time, web browsers will begin replacing your old site with the new one. It's important to launch during the week so your team can run damage control in case the site goes down. You'll also want to test your site across different web browsers and devices and make sure all of your redirects are in place. It might not be a bad idea to incorporate a creative 404 error landing page into your initial launch for any broken links you missed.
Save yourself the headaches.
With proper planning and communication, you can help your new website launch with minimal delays and headaches. In-house or out, choose a designer who understands your needs and budget. Break down major objectives into steps and check in regularly, but not too often. Each team member should understand their role and how it relates to the big picture. A website redesign doesn't have to be complicated — all it takes is proper preparation, a little patience and gathering the information you need to make a logical decision.