Even when an organization knows they need a new website it can still be a daunting undertaking. Depending on the size of your website it can take anywhere from 12-24 months to complete the project from kick-off to launch. To help set you up for success, we believe there are five important steps to the process that will ensure the best possible outcome for your project both internally and for your site visitors.
For project success, there must be an internal project manager. This person will be responsible for overseeing the entire redesign process from start to finish. Throughout the project, this could mean anywhere from 1-10 hours a week. The project manager will also be your main point of contact with an agency like Do Big Things. It’s important that this person has the confidence of leadership and can make decisions related to any conflicting feedback. If a project manager doesn’t have ownership and authority over the project, it typically causes the process to slow down as they need to wait for feedback and approval for each small step of the project.
We need a clear roadmap of what we hope to accomplish with the website redesign in order to ensure that this project supports other strategic goals and supports your digital ecosystem. We will work together to understand what you hope to achieve with your new website. What are your top priorities and who are you trying to reach? This step is important because it will help guide all of the subsequent decision-making during the project.
This step can be difficult for many organizations. There are years worth of content on the site and it’s difficult to prioritize what should stay and move to the new site and what needs to be archived. There will inevitably be a need for new content to be written as well. To help organizations make these decisions, we review your data analytics to help highlight any content that can easily be archived.
After we have trimmed and updated your content it will make the process of creating a new sitemap much easier. The sitemap provides a high-level overview of all the different pages and sections that will be included on the new website. This process helps internal stakeholders understand the new site structure and where different content can and will live together. The sitemap will not necessarily list every single page of the website but it will give a clear picture of top-level navigation and so of the most important pages that live beneath it. The sitemap is a key stop in our redesign process where stakeholders should review and sign off. They may have questions or concerns about content hierarchy and it is much easier to address them during this phase of the project rather than later on in the process.
This is a critical stage in determining where things live on a page. As we being to create wireframes for our main pages on the site, it is important for us to balance competing priorities. For instance, this is the time to determine how we handle two calls-to-action on the homepage or how to best highlight success stories or partners. While wireframes don’t have the glitz and glitter of full-color mock-ups, they are the blueprints of our website and deserve lots of time and attention. This is the second stop that will need stakeholder sign-off. To avoid costly changes or time delays later on, it is critical for stakeholders to weigh in and raise any questions or concerns at the wireframe stage. Once we move into design and development it requires us to double back to make changes and updates.
Finally, if we hit the above five items out of the park, the design and development phase will move incredibly quickly. By the time we reach the design phase, we will have completed the most difficult part of the project. Now is the time to take a quick breather before we get ready to launch. While we know a website redesign requires a significant time commitment it is always worth it in the end. Your website is the calling card for your organization and when a site visitor arrives directly, from social media, a digital ad, or earned media it will be there to do its job of supporting your digital ecosystem and providing users with a clear call-to-action which is exactly what you want it to do.