A website redesign can be an exciting upgrade for your organization, but that same refresh can feel overwhelming. Your current website connects to important systems that keep your business operational—what if they break in the new website transition? What if the company you work with turns out to have a flaky web developer? With overambitious timelines to a project that consumes all of your time, what happens if after all of that, the site looks bad?
What if you look bad?
All of the fears about what might go wrong along the way can stifle the excitement of a website redesign and potentially make you abandon the project altogether. But don’t fret! It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve helped hundreds of businesses redesign and launch successful websites over the years, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep your sanity and create a beautiful site to match your brand’s aspirations.
Before you start researching web developers and diving into web templates, you need to do as Simon Sinek says, and “Start with why.” Why are you undertaking this project? The answer to this question will provide you with a true north as you embark on what is likely going to be a complex project.
Make a list of objectives that are most important to you to achieve from this project:
The answer to your “why” will most likely be some combination of these reasons, but prioritize your objectives to help you make good decisions later.
The most overwhelming detail of a website redesign is all those pages that have accumulated on your old website. Don’t wait until you’re mid-project to figure out what to do with all of that content. Instead:
This is for your own sanity. If you are going to agree to lead this project, ask other stakeholders / leaders to empower you to lead and make decisions. This will keep the project focused and on schedule. Talk to other leaders to understand their goals, expectations, and constraints, and then demand that they let go so you can do your job. This will keep your project moving forward on time.
A practical way to approach this is a concept Seth Godin talks about called thrashing. Seth defines thrashing as the “productive brainstorming and tweaking we do for project as it develops…” (Linchpin, Seth Godin)
Seth recommends thrashing early. Allow lots of thrashing’ up front from all the stakeholders. After all the voices have been heard and a direction determined, fewer and fewer people should be speaking into the project to avoid “late thrashing.”
When there’s second-guessing, rethinking, and last-minute tinkering – especially on something as significant as a website redesign – this ‘late thrashing causes disruptions, delays, and even complete derailment of the project.
There are many flashy web developers out there that can spin up a beautiful site, but what you need is someone who will partner with you to create the parts of your site you don’t want to do, can’t do yourself, or simply don’t have time to do. If you don’t like to create content or don’t have the time, then don’t commit to doing that part of the project. Hire someone that knows how to ask the right questions and can complete the parts of this project you dread.
Before you sign on with a web developer, make sure you are both on the same page about the timeline and anticipated workflow. Web design projects are a back-and-forth process between you and the designer, but without a clear understanding of how you and your developer work, your eight-week-long web project can quickly spin off into a six-month-long headache.
Our team at Spire structures every project in two-week-long sprints that clearly define the work we anticipate completing during those time periods so that our clients know what we’re delivering to them and when they can expect to see it.
Your website redesign doesn’t have to come with a side dish of migraines. Take time before you start your project to follow these tips. They will provide you with a clear roadmap for a successful site redesign. But let me give you one more simple tip that will supercharge the planning of your website redesign.
When it comes to assessing your website for needed improvements, you’re likely at a disadvantage. We all get too familiar with our own sites and miss out on small changes and easy improvements that can be made. And, if you know it’s time for a full-on website overhaul, that outside perspective is even more crucial.
Our Spire team can be that outside perspective – whether your site needs a minor cosmetic facelift or a full rebuild. We’ve built (and rebuilt) thousands of websites over the last 20 years. We can assess your website needs quickly and won’t sugar-coat what we find, but we also won’t sell you what you don’t need.
Schedule a call with one of our team and we can talk about what your website redesign objectives are — and, how we can help you keep your sanity during the your redesign project.
Since 2006, Spire has helped hundreds of businesses redesign and launch their websites. Learn more about our process to see if our team might be the partner you are looking for to redesign your website.