The moment has arrived. Your website needs an overhaul. There’s a great deal at stake and if you’ve never gone through the process, it can be overwhelming. However, if you take the right approach, it isn’t that painful. Done right, it can even be exhilarating.
Either way, there are sure to be surprises. Nobody likes surprises. The small ones take care of themselves but the big ones, well that’s another matter. Consider this a heads-up. It’s your insurance policy against a costly mishap.
1. Understand the Full Scope of Content Issues
Content is one of the most important things to consider in any website redesign. It is also the part of the project that is most often underestimated. Content consists of old information that you’ll want to carry over as well as new content. This new content includes video, photography, and social media.
There’s more there than meets the eye. Here’s why.
User habits have changed. Attention spans are shorter so you’ve got to create easily scan-able pages. If someone cannot find the information they seek at a glance, they won’t hesitate to move on to a competing website.
Google’s algorithm has changed. Once engineered to emphasize written content, the algorithm has changed to reflect the habit of today’s users. Engagement and user experience are big factors, hence a new emphasis on video and other engagement tools. You’ll want to consider who you’re presenting information to, new and old.
Accessibility is a hot button issue. Not only has accessibility become part of Google’s algorithmic changes, it has become a legal consideration for schools and companies. You’ll need to make sure that your content – new and old – meets compliance requirements.
Step one is to thoroughly assess your content situation. Place your pages into categories so that you’re working with manageable groups. If you’re a college website for example, a few appropriate categories may be admissions, programs, news, and alumni. Some of these categories will require that you update or rewrite the information. Typically, this is the case with your program pages. With your news pages, you may wish to carry the more recent ones over while eliminating some that are so old they’re no longer relevant.
You’ll also want to review your admissions content as that information may need to be newly created or updated. The same may be said for student life pages. By now, you get the picture. Before you begin the redesign process, make sure you have a realistic accounting of the total pages you’ll want to carry over, which ones require updating and which are to be newly created.
2. Maintain Consistency Throughout the Redesign Process
This problem is particularly acute in cases where there are many stakeholders, such as a college or university. The marketing or admissions office may be driving the bus, but there are deans, professors, administrators, athletic directors, and students who all want to tell the driver where to go.
If you’re spearheading the website redesign project for your school, don’t get hung up on pleasing every stakeholder equally. What may be ideal for one school or department may not work as well for another. Try to maintain a singular vision throughout the entire website redesign.
The stakes are high so try to keep all interested parties on point. Managing the expectations of deans, administrators, and other interested parties can be paramount to the project’s success. Your redesign firm’s project manager will do their best to give the website redesign the momentum it needs. But it works best when all parties involved adhere to a singular vision. Otherwise, you run the risk of a delayed launch and cost overruns. Or worse. If everyone gets what they want, you may have so much clutter you may wish for the old website back. Imagine having to redesign your redesign just a few months later!
3. Adhere to a Hierarchical Strategy
Earlier, we spoke about decreasing attention spans and scan-ability. Your hierarchical strategy needs to consistently follow this same principle. Information must be organized so that the content that’s important to your audience is simple to find. This should be reflected in the organization of your content as well as its visual design. In order to develop a sound hierarchical strategy, do your homework in advance. At Beacon, we perform a user engagement analysis early on to identify the ways in which your audience uses your website. We strongly suggest you do the same. After all, good data makes for sound decisions.
Once you’ve reviewed the data, you’re ready to develop a hierarchal strategy based on user behavior, increasing your chance of success exponentially.
Breathe easy with Beacon.
If you’re looking for a new website, talk to me. I’m here to answer any questions you may have regarding the process and how Beacon can make it easier for you. We know a thing or two. We’ve been redesigning Higher Ed websites for over 20 years. Contact me any time or call one of our team members at 1.855.467.5447.