At Duo, we live in the zone of redesign and website migrations every day and we're familiar with all of the things we need to plan for when working on these types of projects.
But, if you're on the other side -- say, you're the Director of Marketing -- you might find yourself in the website migration / redesign process for the first time. To help you prepare for the big move, we made a list of 5 things people commonly forget to think about or plan for preparing for a new website.
1. It's a Rebuild, Not a Move.
In very few cases are we just moving content from one platform to another.
If you’re going to go through with the effort of moving content, why not layer in a fresh design? A better user experience? Why not create more targeted content? Why not focus on making the entire digital experience better, not just different? Accept that a website migration isn't just packing up content and moving it from one location to another -- it’s much a much bigger process than that.
2. Know What You’re Building -- and Why. And How.
So, upon accepting that you’re building a new digital home, and not just moving some stuff to the garage, you need to think about the scope of the project. Are you building a cottage or a McMansion? What purpose will it serve -- to generate leads or establish your brand? Every decision about your website should fall out from how you would measure its success. If you don’t have clear business goals for the site, you’ll most likely just replicate what you had before (but with different colors).
3. It’s Going to Take Time. Your Time.
Sometimes people think that once they’ve taken the time to research and hire a firm to design and move their website, the heavy lifting is over. But it’s not. There are a lot of decisions that only you -- as the business stakeholder -- can make. We can advise (consult, if you will) and offer you good choices, but you will ultimately need to decide that the information architecture we’re suggesting makes sense, that the colors and the fonts really reflect your brand, and that all the site functionality has really been accounted for. If you don’t allocate time for yourself to make these types of decisions, the project will inevitably stretch out.
4. Content is Hard Work.
For some reason, people often think that content is easy. Either it’s being moved from one place to another (what could possibly go wrong?), and/or they think it really won’t take that long to write up 20 pages worth of new marketing content and writing new staff biographies. Neither is true.
Migrated content always needs to be reviewed by business stakeholders to verify that nothing was lost in translation, and new content has to be written, reviewed, and revised (sometimes multiple times). As soon as you know what the information architecture for your new site is, you should work with your project manager to set an editorial calendar. Trust us: you’ll be happy you did.
5. Your Website Isn’t Ever Really Done.
You’ll get to project completion (you will! we promise!), but that doesn’t mean you’re done.
In the immediate future, there are probably enhancements that you didn’t have time/budget for right away that you may want to plan for for the next fiscal year. You’ll also want to track the site’s performance over the long-term (you did remember to install Google Analytics, right?) and make adjustments based on how visitors interact with the site and your content. Your website is a tangible business investment, and you’ll need to tend to its care to get the best return possible.