Yes, a redesigned website is a beautiful thing—you'll get no argument from us. (You've seen our completely redesigned site, right?) However, have you looked past the shiny new web pages dancing in your head and seriously considered all the things you need prior to beginning your big website overhaul? You need more than a vision and a laptop, and we're here to remind you of all the different components you should consider before redesigning your website.
Consider a New Approach to Website Design
A trend in website design is steadily updating your website through constant improvements. In the past, we may have advocated for a company to redesign their website every two years. That common wisdom is dying out and being replaced by ideas like Growth Driven Design or engagement-based models, rather than one big website project and one lump sum price tag. This requires an entirely new way of thinking about your website and partnership with your digital agency—and you can expect to hear more about this from us in the future.
With that in mind, let's imagine that you have a website that hasn't had a significant update in at least two years. These are the foundational steps to take before diving into a website project.
Audit Before Redesign
No fear, this is not tax related—we mean you should carefully assess your brand, determining whether or not your website is meeting your goals and your customers' expectations.
It is a simple (yet time-intensive) process, and it's vital to do this prior to redesigning your website.
1. Set Your Criteria
First, determine what you're going to evaluate. Some of the categories you should investigate are:
- CMS/Ease of management
- Marketing Effectiveness
Lucky for you, there are many tools available to assist you with your website audit—in fact, we've got a Website Self-Audit Kit that could be helpful to you, or you could also check out HubSpot's Marketing Grader.
2. Stay Organized
With something as potentially complex as an in-depth website audit, a spreadsheet can be your best friend. You can take copious notes, assign a letter grade for every page or section of your site based on your audit kit, and prioritize them based on urgency. If you need a spreadsheet that your whole team can edit, consider using Google Sheets—our Google Docs tutorial can help you walk through the process if you're unfamiliar with it.
3. Create an Action Plan
Once you've determined where your weaknesses lie, you can put together a plan to address them. Again, this is where your spreadsheet can come in handy—you can address each of your weaknesses point by point, creating a column for your plans to resolve them as well as a timeline for taking action. This is also a useful tool if you're trying to convince the folks higher up that a website redesign should be a line item in the budget; you can show them what, precisely, needs to be addressed as well as how you intend to address it.
Understand Business Motivations
What is the purpose of your website? You want to approach your digital agency with concrete understanding of how marketing and sales relates to your website. This means, you should be prepared to answer questions and provide information about traffic, leads and sales.
Expect questions like these from an agency who knows the business-side of website design:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- How many leads are you getting through your website? How many do you need to accomplish your sales goals?
- Are they the kinds of qualified leads your sales team can use, or are they poor-quality leads?
- What processes could be streamlined through improvements to your website?
- Does your website serve the needs of your customers and clients?
Before you start redesigning your site, look closely at your current site. Can you resolve your issues by simply updating your content? Have you tried doing any A/B testing? (If you're not sure what that is, check out our post here.) Experiment and see where your weak spots might be. If you're not sure how to answer any of these questions, bring the right people to the table to help you before beginning a website project.
Logo Facelift or Rebranding Project
If you are considering refreshing your logo, or completely updating your brand through a major rebranding project, it is vital to complete this project first before starting a website design. They should be two discreet projects and we give this advice from experience. We have begun website projects in the past for clients who were in the midst of rebranding; the result is typically a slow down or complete pause of the website project.
Your logo is the visual representation of your brand, so you want it to look modern, but be able to stand the test of time. Even the most recognizable brands have made tweaks to their logos that bring them up to date without changing their basic integrity— brands such as Apple and Nike have made minor adjustments that made their logos look fresher than ever.
There are a few key points to remember as you consider your logo:
- Pixel vs. Vector
- Size and Scalability
Keep these in mind, and you're sure to create a logo that effectively conveys your brand.
Assemble Your Team
You need to carefully consider who you choose to be on your website redesign committee; a too-large team can be completely unmanageable. You've surely heard the old adage, "Too many cooks spoil the broth?" That definitely applies here. Once everyone gets done adding their special projects to your website redesign, you're dealing with a wildly over-budget behemoth that you'll never get past the powers that be.
How do you resolve this? Keep the committee small, and be sure to pick people who won't be so concerned about their own personal pet projects that they're willing to harm the brand. Trust that the committee has your company's best interests at heart, and let them maintain control over the whole project. They'll be sure to impress you with their clear-eyed vision for your website's redesign.
Additionally, be realistic about your team's skill set. You wouldn't send Captain America in to do a job that's best suited to The Hulk, right? Keep this in mind as you start assigning tasks to your team of heroes. Don't ask the graphic designer to produce killer content, and don't ask your content specialist to create a new header. Sure, they might surprise you, but it just makes more sense to ask them to do what they do best.
Stick To Your Marketing Budget
Unfortunately, a killer website redesign doesn't happen for free. You get what you pay for, and you want an amazing redesign. However, you must be conscious of your marketing budget; you don't want to make plans for a website that you can't afford to bring to fruition.
According to this post, you must consider your revenue when you set your budget. When you determine whether your business is one with minor direct costs or higher pass-through costs, you will know how much of your budget you should devote to marketing.
Additionally, you need to seriously consider whether or not a website redesign is the best use of your marketing budget at this time. Do you have other needs that are more urgent right now? If the answer is no, then perhaps it's time to embark on the redesign project.