Website Redesign and Launch: Starting Off Your Project on the Right Foot

Occasionally, a company needs to scrap its old web design completely in favor of a fresh start. While many companies dread this process, it does not have to turn into a logistical nightmare. Step-by-step planning, organization, and patience can improve development and launch the success of a new website.

website-under-constructionWhen Should I Redesign My Website?

For many years, web designers extoled the benefits of a complete redesign every few years. The idea was that a new website would help a company seem more current and creative. However, many websites today use flexible design principles. Consider a full website redesign if you plan to make a major change. You may want to commit to a complete redesign to:

  • Transition to responsive web design from a traditional design to improve mobile friendliness;
  • Improve poor performance caused by usability or taxonomy, content, and back-end issues;
  • Facilitate your brand’s movement in a new direction; or
  • Improve tools to keep up with competitors.

 Planning and Organization

Any time a company starts a new project, it must create a case for the investment based on existing and future needs and the budget.

Needs Assessment

Do you think that something isn’t working but don’t know what it is or why it isn’t working? Before you start a campaign for a redesign based on a subjective idea that your website is stale, look at the facts. What kind of traffic is your site currently generating? How much of the existing traffic converts? What do you want your new website to accomplish? Know exactly where you stand and where you want to go for a redesign to work.

Too often, companies start a redesign project because management asked for it or because the competition did the same thing. These are valid reasons to redesign a website, but the overall business should always look for why management is unhappy and pinpoint how a competitor site changed. Use data to make the case for a website redesign and highlight how your new site will help you reach those goals.

Budget

Unfortunately, most companies can’t look at a pretty website template and say, “I want that.” Successful web design requires a customized, methodical approach, and high-quality web development costs money. With luck, a company can use its existing framework to build a new website, but some need to start from scratch. When creating a budget, consider the following:

  • Domain hosting changes that may need to take place
  • Which website attributes will change
  • The number of, type, and cost of graphics
  • Mobile usability
  • New content creation and types
  • Additional SEO, ecommerce, or portal functionality
  • Content management tools
  • Product management tools
  • Database structures

A full redesign may cost a few thousand dollars or as much as a Tesla Model X, depending on your needs. Look at functionality and usability needs first, and then start adding material to enhance the redesign and always remember that some changes that appear small won’t be and some that appear large may actually be small.

 Discovering Your Best Website Yet

Patience is a virtue, and it is particularly so in website redesign and launches. To maintain your time frame and launch the website you’ve always wanted:

  •  Focus on communication – As you start exploring your opportunities for a new website, communication is key. Your redevelopment team will look to specific individuals for answers. Put business goals front and center and revisit them often throughout the project. Complex projects, such as website redesigns, can move off in a wholly unintended direction without clearly defined goals set from the beginning.
  • Look at your company’s existing strengths, not its potential – Reflect honestly on your company’s commitment to the new site. While it sounds nice to have a rolling newsfeed cranking out new headlines, site visitors will notice if the revolving headlines never change. If you want to add functionality with future growth, let your designers and developers know. Preparing for growth may make more sense than adding functionality that your company isn’t prepared to handle yet.
  • Empower your team to get the job done – Most website redesign projects get waylaid because several individuals need to sign off on every decision. Instead of governing the project by committee, create a set of guidelines and empower the project manager to make meaningful decisions. Focus on getting the core functionality and content assets live. You can always nitpick about minor problems later.
  • If you change your website significantly, prepare your audience – People, in general, are averse to change. Consider some of the major operating system changes in the past. Many users had a hard time adopting Windows 8 because it was vastly different from previous versions (among other reasons). If you do change your website functionality in a major way, let your audience know what to expect. Consider changing the live site in small, incremental steps that allow your site visitors to acclimate to the redesign intuitively. Also, never be afraid to test new enhancements to see if they resonate with your visitors, after all, it is better to release a redesigned website that you know works great late than to release one that negatively impacts your users.

With some preparation and planning, a web design does not need to cause the company emotional or financial stress. Take time to explore your opportunities before you begin, and then enjoy the return on investment that a new website can deliver.