How to plan a website redesign

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Why should you redesign your website?

It’s been a while since you’ve updated the look and feel of your website. And you’re ready for a change. Maybe you want to get more leads, maybe you just want to modernize your website. Whatever the reason, you’ll need to make sure your planning, and research set you up for success.

But what do you need to do in order to successfully redesign your website? It may seem like a lot to unpack, but if you follow the simple steps below, you can break down the problem into smaller pieces and make it less overwhelming.

There are 3 basic phases to a successful website redesign. Planning, execution, and evaluation.

Planning

Strategize before planning

In order to successfully plan your redesign, you need to think about what you want to accomplish by redesigning your site. Think less about how and more about why.

Do you want to add a more modern style to your site, are you looking to add additional functionality, or are you only really wanting to update the structure and content? Answer these questions before venturing into design or development.

Without a clear idea of why you want to redesign your website you won’t be able to properly organize how you are going to redesign your website.

Audit Your Current Website and Assets

Take inventory of what you already have on your website. You most likely will want to keep some of the content that’s already there. So decide what can stay, what needs to go, and what needs to be re-done.

Create a list of all the pages, articles, forms, images, videos and other assets on your website. This will help you avoid doing rework in the future, and could also give you an idea of areas where you need to create more content, or improve upon existing content.

Look at what is currently popular with other websites

Look for inspiration. Before you decide on your redesign, make sure you’ve seen what’s ‘out there’. You might discover some good ideas for your website, and this is the best time to make sure you’ve got an idea of what you want. Before you start the expensive redesign and development.

Check out websites like Awwwards, Dribble, or Behance for ideas and inspiration.

Brand guidelines and styles (wider strategy?)

If your company has a brick and mortar store, or physical and print advertising, you’ll want to make sure you are aligning your website redesign with those as well. Use this opportunity to develop a brand identity and maintain consistency with your website and other representations of your brand.

If you don’t have any brand guidelines this would be the perfect time for you to think about creating them as well.

Create a plan

Now the planning can begin. Plan out your website redesign using the insights you’ve gained from considering your strategy, goals, and existing content.. You’ll need to account for the two most important variables. Money and Time.

You’ll need to decide who is going to do what. Do you have a development team? Do you want to outsource design or development? Do you want to use 3rd party tools to avoid doing the work yourself? This is where you can decide.

You can save money by using third party tools. When deciding in-house vs. third party tools, take an honest look at the features you want and whether or not you and your team can develop them. If not, you’ll need to use a third party resource or outsource development work. You can also use services for things you could develop yourself to save money and time.

When you’ve decide what is going to be done yourself, or outsourced. Define roles and responsibilities. Decide who is going to do what, or what they are responsible for. By making sure each aspect of your project has an owner you can ensure that nothing falls to the wayside during the course of your project.

You’ll also want to organize things so you can track your progress. Use something like a Gantt chart to track what needs to be done, and a basic timeline of when it needs to be done for other things to advance. Update this as you execute.

Execution

UX and Content

Consider from your website strategy what users need to do on your website and think about what kind of content they want to see. You’ll need to work with your team to create forms, content, and other media on your website.

Walk through what you want your user journey to look like, and begin creating the content to match that experience.

Create a sitemap

When you’ve decided on your user experience and content, you’ll want to assemble your sitemap. By creating the content, media and forms before you design and develop your site you are able to create a ‘map’ or sitemap of what exists on your site, making both design and development easier.

This will also be a positive for SEO after you publish your site (although you will need to create an XML version after your site is designed/developed).

Track your progress

In the planning phase you created systems to make sure you are on time and on budget. Use these systems in tandem with your developers and designers to make sure the complicated website redesign project doesn’t get out of hand.

If you encounter obstacles or delays along the way, adjust your plan accordingly and keep everyone on the project informed. Long delays cost you money.

Web Design

This is where your web designer can start to make your website a reality. Let your designer use the brand guidelines you created and implement them into the final design of your website. This is where you’ll start to be able to see how all your details and content fit into the redesigned website.

You’ll want to make sure your designer is creating mockups and working with best practices in order to make things easy for the next step, development.

Development

It’s been a long process and a lot of work so far, but there’s still the final step of assembling the pieces you’ve placed into their final form. A functioning website!

Your development team will most likely have a prefered technology stack that they prefer to use. But you’ll want to make sure whatever is chosen, it can accommodate the content and forms you need for your users, as well as being able to follow development best practices and SEO guidelines.

You’ll also want to make sure that your website works on both mobile and desktop, which is essential these days, and may be one of the major reasons you wanted your website redesigned in the first place.

Evaluation

Measure your success

Now that your website is ‘complete’, evaluate how you did. Start analyzing your user data on the new designs using a tool like Google Analytics. Measure your visits, clicks, conversion rates and other factors, and plan A/B tests to see how different factors affect your website.

If you see areas to improve you might want to walk through the execution phase again to small changes and help improve the performance of your website.

Sit Back and relax (for now)

Once you’ve redesigned your website you can take a moment to sit back and admire the hard work you’ve done. But keep in mind, the internet is always changing, and although your website might feel brand new today, you’ll most likely be doing another redesign in a couple years.

Take the lessons you’ve learned from this redesign and think about what you would want to improve next time around. Keep cataloging your content and user journey, and keep records of your websites performance.

Have these available for future redesigns so you can continue to iterate and improve with each project.

Conclusion

A website redesign is a big undertaking, but if you make sure to plan ahead and think about your biggest goals, you can make it easier on yourself.

Don’t rush into a redesign based on just the latest trends alone. Think about what you want your website to do for you.

About the author

Matt Naus

I have been building web applications and other digital products for more then a decade. Currently on an exciting journey discovering the ins and outs of content marketing while growing my newest business. Dedicated to helping digital agencies and entrepreneurs around the world succeed!

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