Staring down the barrel of a website redesign can be a daunting proposition. Between conceptualizing a vision, getting company principals on-board with that vision, and communicating said vision to whomever is designing your site, there is a lot of planning, organization, and cooperation involved in the process. And as any business owner knows, the more complex a project becomes, the greater the potential for things to just plain go wrong.
But as any savvy business owner also knows, a little bit of extra preparation before undertaking a large project can go a long way toward preventing any ‘hiccups’ along the way.
So how do you prepare for a website redesign? By asking the right questions!
1. What does your website need to do?
Before you even put pen to paper and start jotting down ideas you need to very accurately define exactly what you hope your new site will achieve. Are you looking to convert visitors into customers and move product? Do you want guests to leave their contact information, fill out an application, or subscribe to a newsletter? These questions matter!
Designing a site without a clearly defined objective is like going on a road trip without a GPS (or map, for you dinosaurs in the room). Even if you start out facing the right direction, you’re going to get turned around at some point; often sooner rather than later.
The sheer scope of varying objectives a website can achieve are staggering. Websites can turn strangers into life-time customers and expose entirely new audience segments to your product or service. The better planned out your new site is, the more effective it will be at achieving whatever goal best supports your company’s efforts, be that closing deals or opening doors.
2. What’s the deal with your old site?
Building a new site is no lean undertaking. It’s a long, involved, and often costly process. It would be unwise for a business owner to decide on a web redesign if their current site is already operating effectively.
So if you’re looking to build a new site, you need to ask yourself, why?
Is your site outdated or ineffective or simply in need of a facelift? Do visitors complain about your site’s appearance or functionality? Do mobile users struggle to navigate your site? Are you failing to reach the top of search results despite SEO efforts?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then not only should you consider a website redesign, but you already know where to start!
3. What do you want v. What do you need?
If there is one thing modern web design is not lacking in, it’s bells and whistles. Parallax scrolling, full video backgrounds, custom fonts, interactive slider buttons… there’s a lot a clever web designer can do to make your site really ‘pop’.
But do you need all that? The more clever functionality and smart features you toss onto a website redesign, the higher the expense, and it’s important to strike a balance between spending money as a smart investment and spending money just to spend money.
Before you go looking to add any ‘web-jitsu’ to you new site, focus on correcting the issues of the old site. A parallax stroller on an ineffective ‘call-to-action’ page does not make the ‘call-to-action’ any more effective!
4. Am I using a content management system? Should I?
A content management system (CMS) is the flexible backbone of modern web design. A CMS affords you, the owner of the website, the ability to easily update your site without requiring you to learn complicated or cumbersome coding techniques. This will allow you to make changes on the website without having to rely on the developer. And most CMS platforms, like WordPress, are so intuitive to control that if you can handle a word processor, you can handle a CMS.
If your site is not currently running on a CMS, you may want to consider having it added. And if you’re looking to build a new site from the ground up, the smart and forward-thinking thing to do would be to build with a CMS right out the gate.
5. Outsource or DIY?
Redesigning a website in house can seem a very attractive option; until the reality of the project sets in. Website design and redesign are tasks of no small magnitude, and you, as the business owner, need to decide whether dedicating the time, effort, and money into handling your web design needs in house is the best use of resources or if it makes more sense to seek outside help.
Contracting an outside web design company to handle your web design needs will not only free you up to focus on what you do best (running your business) it will also provide you with a much more polished and effective finished product. There are plenty of web design hobbyist out there, but only a handful of vetted pros, and the difference in the quality of work these two groups produce is striking.
We want to hear from you. Have you ever experienced the painful joy that is website design? What lessons did you learn? How will you handle future web design projects? What would you have done different? Drop us a line in the comment section!