Does Your Website Need to be Remodeled/Redesigned?
The good news is you have a website; the bad news is that you haven’t done much with it in a while and it needs to be redone. Part of the problem is that many businesses think of their website the way they do a brochure. Once it is written and printed, they don’t change it until the supply is used up. Unfortunately a website can’t be used up—it lives on and on. The internet is littered with out-of-date sites and many abandoned ones. To keep yours from embarrassing you we’ve compiled a list of things to consider as you review your existing site with thoughts of improving it.
1. Why do I want to remodel this site? Is it the look, the functionality, the difficulty of editing, or all of the above?
2. Who is going to use the site and how? What is each constituency looking for when they come to the site?
3. Is there anything you need to add to your site to better facilitate your marketing efforts such as a blog, lead generation support, resources or surveys?
4. Who is going to keep the site up-to-date and what skill set do they have?
How to Get Started
The first step is to plan out what you want to do. Just like building a house you need to sit down with an “architect” and talk through all of what you want on the site and how it is going to be used. The architect is someone who has managed website remodeling projects before and understands the potential benefits and shortcomings of particular choices. Unless you have been through a similar process before, be cautious about taking the architect job on yourself.
The next step is to assemble your team. You will need a writer/editor, a graphic designer, an HTML programmer, an SEO specialist and a marketing person to help you build your site. Some of these positions you may be able to fill yourself, but you need all of them. Be careful about hiring just one of these folks and expecting them to fill all the positions.
Before you complete your plan, test it on key members of your executive team or even a trusted customer or two. Now is the time to find out if you have missed something important. Don’t think you have to incorporate every request or idea. Some things need to be put off and implemented as additions to the site once it is live.
Next, Build It
Once you have your plan developed and you’ve tested it and you have your team assembled, plan out the execution and develop a realistic timeline for completion of the site. It is important to decide what to include in the first iteration of the site and what to leave to the first revision. With this in place develop your timeline with milestones that everyone is aware of. Make sure that you get started on the content early in the process. You want all of the text and images you will use to be available when the platform and template choices are complete so you don’t slow down your programmers.
Build your site in a test location so you can look at it as it is being developed. Use this location for you and certain key personnel to review the site before it is ready to go live and replace your old site. During this period, train your personnel who will be updating the site in the platform you have chosen so they are ready to make edits and post new information shortly after going live. (This is a key consideration in choosing a platform).
Go live with the new site and take down the old site. While you will try to think of everything, this is when you will find out if you haven’t. Be sure your team is available and ready to respond with any needed quick fixes. During the design phase make sure you installed the analytics tools you plan to use so that in this post-live phase you can monitor visitors to the site and pages visited. Schedule your site with the search engines for indexing and begin monitoring your position for various search terms. Be patient as this will take some time. Record your results so you can measure progress.
The process isn’t rocket science, but there are a lot of moving parts. Plan, plan, plan before you jump in and start programming or designing; select the right team and give them the information and tools they need to do their job and you are much more likely to be happy with the results.