It’s a scenario we hear over and over again: your website is old and tired. Its design and development issues are probably a source of heartburn. There’s a good chance you weren’t happy with the site when you completed it the last time, but it is certainly better than nothing.
Now, it’s a new day and you need to improve and redesign a new generation of the website that communicates the business of today. It needs the look, function and brand-centric elements that your company, product or department deserves. You probably have a vision for what you want to see in the end, and that’s great. Hopefully, with this post we’re adding to your success by giving you a few things to think about for your upcoming project.
1. Avoid Generic Themes
Themes are great for a “starter” site. (Let’s be honest: you’re never going to be fully satisfied if you’re haphazardly rushing to get a site up for the first time, so it might as well be inexpensive.) However, a theme’s rigid constraints can significantly limit what you can do. For a redesign we’re not talking about an initial, beginner-type site. You are trying to redesign a brand-centric website that is going to help you move the needle. (And who’s looking for a second round of heartburn?)
On the other hand, a custom website design is going to allow the creative process to really capture the brand and purpose of the site. From imagery and fonts to textures and functions, the site is built from the ground up with hyper focus on your goals and needs. Your site can look and work great in a way that lasts. This might be kind of an odd statement, but we’ve actually built custom sites that are pushing five years old and are still light years ahead of their competition. Do it right and be happy. 🙂
2. Require a Design Process
No themes, now what? Wireframes are the way to really know what you’re going to end up with. Wireframes are non-functioning digital images of the page. Complete with buttons, shading, and textures etc., wireframes should be made for all custom pages and templates. Each of these wireframes will require its own process, including some revisions as all the pieces begin to take shape. In the end, they will give you a site that looks the way you really want it to.
3. Assemble your Team
Clients in larger organizations might have stakeholders or people within the organization who are interested in the process and use of the website. Identifying who these people are is the first step. Once you know who they are, it is best to specifically hear each of their concerns, desires and goals. Finally, keep them informed and involved. Design and/or function concerns after the ship has sailed can cause issues. Being proactive with your team will limit these sort of interruptions.
4. Plan for the Future
Technology is moving quickly, but so is the growth of your company. Think about requirements 2-4 years down the road. You certainly may redesign your site sooner than that, but there are many information architecture, SEO and content considerations that a mindful development company will be able to plan for. Planning like this can help avoid more costly development solutions down the road.
- Will you be adding new content sections to your site in the future?
- Is your site a candidate for decoupled CMS?
- Will your content need multi-channel capabilities in the near future?
Also be mindful of what you might not be able to accomplish. Are you thinking about case studies or a blog that is front and center? Make sure that you have the resources to keep an area like this fresh internally, or know that you have a dependable content creation partner that can help out with your copywriting, photography and video production needs.
5. Allow for Time
A good website redesign needs time. There is no two ways about it. Ideas need to marinate, solutions often need to be discovered. While we’ve done websites in weeks, the best websites take three months plus, and it’s not because there are three months worth of hours! Thought-marinating and discovery in the creative process is crucial. In the end, it’s well worth having some margin with your redesign project.
By avoiding generic templates, requiring a design process, assembling your team, planning for the future and allowing time for the design and development of your redesigned site, you are well on your way to creating a great website. If you’re looking for help, we’d be happy to chat about your project. Drop us a line and let the collaborative creativity begin!