Embarking on a redesign of your website can be equal parts exciting and daunting. Often the hardest part is finding the correct individual or agency to help you, and then there’s always coming up with the budget to hire them. What comes next can seem just as hard, but I’ve broken it down into five things to keep in mind if your organization is thinking about redoing your site.
P.S. For the sake of first person narratives, I am going to discuss these points as if we’re the ones doing your redesign. Wishful thinking? Maybe.
1. Your organization’s mission
You need a clear mission. This doesn’t necessarily mean a “mission statement” but more of a firm grasp of the underlying purpose of your organization. We want to build beautiful, functional sites that communicate your story. To do so, we need to know what you do, why you do it, and why people should care about it. For us to know most definitely starts with you knowing.
Need some help defining your brand? Resources like Brand Deck (from the creators of Cards Against Humanity) can be surprisingly ingenious tools to help you figure out who you are.
2. Redesign goals
Why are you redoing your site? Two of the most popular reasons are technology and trends.
Technology PSA: If your site isn’t mobile friendly, then it absolutely needs to be. Google’s Mobilegeddon became a real thing as of April 21, 2015.
Design trends: Is your site so 2000? If it’s time for a makeover, then it’s helpful to find examples of sites you like (or don’t like). Keep in mind that the latest and greatest trends may not always be the best solutions for your site (example: obvious drop shadows).
The third most popular reason for a redesign is to generate more online traffic. Some helpful insight: There’s a difference between boosting traffic and boosting user engagement. A redesign alone isn’t going to bring more traffic, but upping user engagement – increasing online donations or more newsletter signups – is a task that a redesign can realistically tackle.
You need to have quality content. What does this mean? It means that you can have the most beautiful site on the web but if you’re not articulating your work in a concise and digestible way, the user will bounce (hence, bounce rate). We want to create sites from a “content first” perspective, so for us to design all your pages, we need content to build from. Take an in-depth look at the current state of your website and determine if you need some help rewriting or reorganizing your content. Consider going with an agency that has on-staff writers and content strategists to help you (we’re one of those agencies).
A final push: Content is one of the easiest ways to generate organic SEO so don’t underestimate the importance!
Also, you need to figure out if you want your new site to feature videos, background images, parallax effects, etc. If so, then you need high quality videos and images. If you don’t have those, then you have two options – use stock photography that doesn’t suck (Picjumbo, Gratisography, Little Visuals) or hire a photographer/videographer to help visually convey your organization’s story (we have stellar recommendations in mind).
4. Your team
Who from your organization will be managing the new site? Who will be creating pages/posts/content and who will have the final say? You should get these people involved as early as possible.
Also, if you’re putting your new site on WordPress and no one from your team is familiar with the platform, then you’ll need some guidance. We will train you as much as is required in order to ensure a smooth handoff.
Do you have a hard deadline for launch? Will the world end if that deadline gets pushed back? A lot of clients want their launch to be concurrent with a major event – yearly fundraising events, a new product, etc. Since these events are time-consuming, you’ll want to be sure that your team has enough time to commit to the redesign on top of regular obligations. Things like weekly meetings, content migration, and training may take longer than you think. If #1, 2, or 3 need some work, then you already need to allow more time.
Staying on schedule is a high priority and controlling what can actually be controlled will help move it along at a consistent pace. But sometimes the process just takes longer due to unforeseen circumstances (see Crackpoodle vs Iceberg Effect).
Once you’ve taken these things into consideration, a website redesign may seem like a less daunting task. Don’t be scared! We’d love to help prepare you for your 2015 redesign. Let us know if you’d like to chat about it!