Guides

Nine things you may not expect from a website redesign

1. It’s easier than you think.

It’s tempting to avoid a redesign and redevelopment of your website because it feels too daunting. You may feel like it’s going to cost too much or it’s going to be too disruptive to your business, but new websites are launched every day. The right partners reduce the risk and make the work not only possible, but comfortably achievable. They do this kind of thing daily so you don’t have to. Once you find the right resources, that momentum will keep you going.

2. It’s harder than you think.

Yes, this seems like a contradiction of the first point, but it isn’t. You can do this. But, you might think some tasks are easier than they really are. Just be prepared that some elements will take more work than you thought (while others will take less).

Most of a redesign is the research, strategy and prep work. This should be the hard part (not the designing and building). It’s connecting the work to your business strategy; it’s making sure the plans are set and double checked.

The last 10% is the actual graphic design and development work of expressing all of the new insights and decisions. Think of it like this: A good house painting job is 90% prep work. Taping, measuring, covering the windows, etc. Once all that’s done it’s really just passes with a roller or sprayer at the very end to finish off the job.

3. It’s a set of business decisions, not just technology or design decisions.

Those business decisions we just mentioned? This is where those come in. It’s easy to think that a new website is mainly a technology issue. But, your website is a revenue generator, and that’s a business issue.

Get a partner that can understand your business needs. These business decisions aren’t pretty picture decisions. If you're obsessed with the color scheme or the font of your current site, you're focusing on the wrong things. It’s a tool that motivates customers to flow into your business. (Though be careful about redesigning purely on objective measures like Amazon does. You do want beauty and elegance. Just don’t rely on those to do the strategic work.)

4. Your vendors want you to win

If you’ve been burned in the past it can feel like an “us vs. them” situation. We get it. At Solspace we’ve heard about plenty of bad relationships and bad breakup stories when working with some agencies.

But most agencies and experts (the good ones) want you to be successful; that’s how they’re successful. Their advice and work is for your benefit, not merely theirs. The good ones want to practice their craft to your benefit. They want to be excellent on your behalf. Let them be the experts. Good agencies love doing successful work as much as you love receiving it.

5. The right decisions before aren’t the right decisions now

Change is hard. You spent a lot of time making key decisions about your current (outdated) website. But, needing to change your CMS now doesn’t mean you chose wrongly in the past. It may have been the best one for you then. And a new site structure or look & feel doesn’t mean the previous approach was a bad choice.

Technology and best practices are moving targets for websites. Expect to discover how new developments can make your site even better than before. And expect your vendors and partners to be the ones who’ve spent quality time learning about them.

6. Nothing is sacred (unless it is)

Love your current layout? Be willing to scrap it. Everyone knows how to use the current CMS? They’ll learn the new one too. Let go of the idea that some things must stay the same. This can be tough. Sometimes the aspect you’re most excited about is still the wrong decision. Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner has his famous quote, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” He meant that merely being “in love” with an idea doesn’t mean it’s the right one. In fact they can get in the way of a balanced work.

The same goes for your next website. It helps to think of the project holistically. Let go of your special aspects in case they’re not going to fit your strategy. But, be willing to accept that some things might need to stay as is, too. The right experts will help you determine which is which and still be successful in the midst of these boundaries.

7. Your vendors want to work with you, not for you

The best agencies and experts aren’t waiting for you to tell them exactly what to do. The attitude of “Just build it and don’t ask questions” leads to poor work. A collaborative arrangement makes the work faster, easier, and more successful.

You’re paying good money for their expertise as well as their process. Let them be worth it. This doesn’t mean you’re not in control. But, it does mean that every decision isn’t your burden.

8. You can’t see most of the work

It’s easy to think of a new website as what the new homepage looks like. In reality, complex businesses with revenue-generating websites do most of the work in the background. A new paint job won’t fix the car or even keep it running reliably.

Be ready to give your experts time to do the background work the right way. This takes time and effort and is hard to see. Making sure the inner workings are sound and reliable keeps your users happy and the revenue flowing.

9. No, you can’t do it “in-house.”

The big temptation: Couldn’t it be cheaper or easier to do a redesign with your own team? After all, they already work there, right?

Just because you hide the costs doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The process of planning and building a new website takes your in-house team away from their current work of keeping things moving and flowing well. They’re already working full-time on that, right? Even agencies (like Solspace) seek outside help and expertise when redesigning their own website.

And no, your sister's uncle's brother is not a good alternative for your redesign. This revenue generating tool is too important for that. You’ll be glad you asked for expert help (and so will your in-house developers and designers).

Merely keeping these things in mind puts you ahead of your competitors. Let them make the mistake of being unprepared and unaware. You’ll be several steps ahead of them.