Many companies realize the importance of having a website on the internet and consequently launch one. However, the website is not a permanent, unchanging installation. You or the department of your company tasked with internet marketing should be asking the following questions on a regular basis:
-Do you update the content regularly?
-Is the design more than 2 years old?
-Has your company made any changes that should be reflected in the website?
-Has anyone recently evaluated the site for consistency, functionality, etc?
-What is your competition doing on the web?
-Are you familiar with the latest web trends?
The truth is, many company website could be more effective through a redesign. The best procedure is to start with asking the questions above. If you find you need improvement on two or more areas, then you should consider a redesign (note: if your only area of concern is that your website is more than 2 years old, you should definitely consider a redesign as I guarantee more updates than just visual could be found).
Once you have determined a website redesign is immanent, the best thing to do would be to hire a professional design firm to handle the process. Look for a firm that has experience with redesigns, can also offer consulting, and is on the leading edge of what is happening with technology and the web. If a firm also offers marketing, that is an added bonus as they will also understand how your website can interact with other marketing materials for uniformity in campaigns.
Here at JV Media Design, we walk our clients through a specific process when approached with website redesigns. The purpose of the initial steps outlined below is to allow a company to explore what their needs are internally and assist us in learning how to approach the project.
A "Wish List" of Changes
We ask our clients to come up with a Wish List of what they would like to incorporate into their newly redesigned site. The best way to accomplish this is not by one person in the company creating a list, but everyone working together to determine the answers to questions such as:
-What are the current strong/weak points of the website?
-Has there been any positive or negative feedback received from customers (especially helpful with ecommerce websites)?
-Are there any functional problems or errors with the current site?
-How would you like to make updates to the new website?
-Do you need to add or modify ecommerce on your website?
Although we encourage our clients to explore options and discuss what needs the rest of the company has for the new site, we discourage seeking the advice of friends and relatives as their opinions are often biased and can be detrimental to the project timeline.
We recommend the moment you know your site will need a redesign, you begin the Wish List process. If you have already approached us and are starting the process at the same time, we recommend the process be completed within 2 weeks to stay on track with any timelines for completion.
During this time, we will also be evaluating the website and making more detailed recommendations on changes we would suggest and formulating our proposal and estimate for you. The proposal will include what your needs are, what our recommendations are (including any recommendations for hosting, ecommerce, use of flash, video, etc.) as well as cost breakdowns.
Once a project is approved, the actual development process begins.
Based on the information provided in the Wish List, we will create a site map outline. This will assist you in gathering materials for any new or rewritten page content (including photos).
The next week should be spent gathering the materials that you will need to provide us with.
In the case of adding ecommerce to your website, we would ask that you start to create a master list of your products (sku, name, price, description, photo, etc.). We would also need access to your hosting and merchant account gateway in order to set that up properly on your newly designed website.
The Rest Is Easy
Providing there are no delays in receiving requested content or information, then your site design should be completed without you having to do much more than review and sign off as major progress is completed. Before removing the old site and replacing it with the new one, we run a number of error checks as well as request a final review from the client.
In the end, you will have a professionally redesigned website that should not only function and look better than your previous one, but also server your customers better and enhance your overall business image.
Sherry Holub received her degree in design from UCLA in 1995. She is now the Lead Designer and Creative Director at Southern California firm, JV Media Design. Sherry is also a member of the NAPP, the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), and Cambridge Who's Who.