Why redesigning a website is like moving across the country…

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I’m getting ready to make a big move across the country and as I read tons of moving “how to” articles, I’m amazed at how similar the “to do” lists are to what you should consider when building a new website:

  1. Plan, plan, plan! Before you make the very first step toward a redesign, start making lists… What is the budget of the project?  Who are the stakeholders of the project?  What is the purpose of the redesign?
  2. Inventory–  Take good stock of everything on the current website.  What works?  What doesn’t?  What needs to be enhanced?  Are there any dynamic or interactive applications that need to be ported to the new site?  Are there any existing back-end integration points that need to be evaluated?  Beacon can help you with a current site “content matrix”, which will track all current pages and where they will reside on the new site.
  3. Find a good partner– Most people can’t make a major move (or build a great website) without help.  In addition to a company that does excellent web development, consider whether you’ll need assistance with graphical design, web marketing and hosting.  A great thing about Beacon is that we are a one stop shop for all this and more!  Also be sure to check references– we’ll be happy to provide you with a list of our happy customers…
  4. Decide on a single point of contact– Even if you hire a web development partner, you’ll need a dedicated internal resource to serve as the primary point of contact to handle all questions and decisions as they arise during the development process.
  5. Decide if your current vehicle can make the move– Is your current website platform robust enough to support today’s technologies (video, social media, interactive features)?  If not, you may want to consider starting with a new, more sophisticated platform and moving the existing content to it, rather than just changing the face of the existing site.
  6. Consider what you’ll need in the transition– Most redesign projects require at least a little time where the current site has to be “frozen” (no new updates), so that content can be moved from the live site to the new design.  Consider how long it is feasible for the site to be unchanged, whether there is an ideal time of year/month for this to happen, and if there are any areas that absolutely must be updated daily.  Inform your web development company of these items as soon as possible (ideally at the outset of the project).
  7. Make sure you haven’t forgotten anything! I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to test your website before it goes to Production.  Our project plans usually leave at least two weeks for the client to test the website and sadly this step is often overlooked or rushed due to the client’s busy schedule.  Although we pride ourselves on our careful system testing process, there’s just no substitute for the client carefully evaluating every single page of the new site.  Take the time, it is worth it!
  8. Announce it to everyone! Just like you shouldn’t forget to tell friends and family about your move, be sure to have a communications plan to announce the new web site release to your customers, distributors, associates, partners, etc.  If there will be any change in functionality, be sure to prepare them for this change and give precise directions on its impact to them.

Best of luck with your “move”!