Thinking of Redesigning Your Website? Read This First.
Web design for small businesses makes up a good deal of our business here at 342MAD. And perhaps not so surprisingly, correcting others’ web design also makes up a good chunk. When it comes to redesigning your website, here are some things you should keep in mind so that you only pay for it once and don’t require a cleanup crew to fix a bunch of problems with a bad build. (PS - calling us first tends to fix that issue! ;) We’re here to help you come up with the perfect website redesign if now is the right time for you!)
When you take something apart to fix it and you put it back together, pieces get lost.
TEN THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU REDESIGN YOUR WEBSITE
ONE: Do you have a good business reason for a redesign?
Many people think that they need a fresh new site every couple years. With more frequent turnover of professionals in corporate businesses (marketing professionals have an average turnover every 18 months), are you just considering getting a new site because a new person is in your marketing advisory chair? Or is there major scope or utilization that you desire to change? Refreshing an existing site with modern features like paralax scrolling, video banners, etc. can be a great option if you just want a fresh look.
TWO: Get customer input in the building stages.
Web designers and marketers are looking at your site for visuality and usability as we understand it, but who is your user? Let’s talk to them, let’s beta test them on the usability they need, let’s make sure we are putting them first.
THREE: Think about who your audiences are.
Who are your users, apart from the customer? Do you have need of a “backend” structure accessible by your employees, or a search function that people need to log into so you can track the homes and areas they are searching? A website is oftentimes more than just the “front page.” Anything with a log-in accessible portal has secondary audiences whose needs we need to consider.
FOUR: What do you have to work with in this redesign?
And we’re not just talking about budget, though that is an important aspect. What is your existing platform? Do you have integrations set up, like mailing list sign-ups or portal accesses or a shopping cart, that we need to make sure function in the new design? Do you have multiple sites? We, as web designers, don’t know what we don’t know. So a clear picture of all the integrated aspects that are at work in your current site is necessary to ensure a productive rebuild. Yes, we know this doesn’t sound like fun, but trust us — it’s imperative.
FIVE: Who are you working with in this redesign? Is there a political landscape we’ll have to navigate to get the website approved?
For our audience, part of this answer is simple: “I’m working with 342MAD!” However, we are but a cog in the machine, my friends. Who are we going to have to talk to in your business? In third-party businesses that have a function with your website? Is there a Board of Directors or Shareholders whose opinions and concerns we will have to address and/or remediate? We need to know not only the decision makers but the rest of the pieces on the chessboard as well.
SIX: What resources do you have?
What’s your timeframe? What’s your budget? Are you prepared to increase that number should something unexpected arise? Is there functionality you want to add that you don’t currently have? We can help you figure out what extra costs you may incur so that you have a realistic budget and timeframe expectation.
SEVEN: What kind of site to do you have & want?
Content, commerce, archival? International or just nationwide? We need to build your site on a platform and in a template that fits with your purpose. We can help you hone this in by an in-depth discussion of many of the items on this list. It frequently happens with clients in the early stages that the websites that catch their eye (that they then send to us - “I want something like THIS!”) doesn’t actually match the functionality they need in a way that will be helpful to their clients/audience.
EIGHT: How is your SEO going to be affected?
When you are making significant changes to your website, special care and attention is required to keep your SEO in line.
NINE: How does the website express your value proposition to your customers?
Don’t get lost in aesthetics — these are tremendously important — but if your website doesn’t say who you are and what you do for your clients, you’re missing the key starting point. Your website, your brand, your site’s structure & functionality need to support the value you bring to your clients.
TEN: Define the scope of redesign.
What are the must-haves and timeline for each phase? Are there off-the-shelf solutions or do you need custom-developed functionality? What tradeoffs are you going to have to make to get your must-haves? What is the purpose? What does success look like on this project? Clearly defining goals and expectations allows your support team to create the benchmarks necessary to get there.
If you are interested in rebuilding your website, give us a call. We’re happy to talk you through many of these difficult topics. But always be prepared to be flexible. Think of a website rebuild like a home renovation: you get the walls off and suddenly realize there are more issues than you thought. The work before was shoddy, or there is something that was always missing that is critical to this area functioning well for you. So be as patient as you are when your entire kitchen is ripped apart and some plumber tells you the pipes are rusty and need to be completely replaced. 😇 And don’t forget: we’re here to help!