If you’ve decided that 2017 is the year to redesign your website, congratulations!

Making the decision to redesign a website is a big deal, but when done well, it can have a huge impact on your business.

We’ve helped dozens of businesses build their website, and we’re happy to share these five key steps to a smooth website development project.

  1. Pre-planning: Before you dive into the design of your new site, it’s important to step back and ask yourself a few questions:

    1. Why are you redesigning? Is it simply because your site looks outdated? Or is it something more functional, such as not being mobile responsive or the lack of leads/business that’s being generated?
    2. Has your business or customer changed?
    3. What is the key purpose of your website? Do you want it to generate leads? Drive in-store traffic? Educate consumers? Understanding what you want your website to accomplish will drive the layout, content and performance expectations.
  2. User Experience and Design: Once you understand why you’re redesigning, now it’s time to consider the look and layout.

    1. Create a hierarchy of your content. What pages are most important and what sub-pages need to be created to support each section?
    2. Who will be coming to your website, and is there a content and a pathway of information for each type of visitor (consider new prospect, returning client, community partners, etc.)?
    3. What look and feel are you hoping to achieve with the redesign? We recommend reviewing local and national competitors as well as industry sites and compiling a list of what aspects you like about each site.
  3. Content: The content of your website is one of the most crucial elements. Do a thorough analysis of your content and imagery to decide what stays, what goes and what needs to be added.

    1. Consider the tone of your content. Is it driving visitors toward the desired action you determined in the pre-planning process?
    2. If content needs to be written or reworked, establish up front who will be responsible and create deadlines.
    3. Good images can be extremely powerful on a website. Consider hiring a photographer or at least investing in good stock imagery.
  4. Integrations and functionality: This is a crucial part of website development because it often requires the most work (read: added costs) from the developers.

    1. Integrations: Does your new website need to speak to your client data tool? Your appointment scheduler? Even if it seems easy or minor, make sure to list out every integration as well as the system that needs to be integrated.
    2. Functionality: Do you want your website to be able to collect donations or provide an instant quote? Even simple things such as maps and downloadable content should be included.
  5. Key factors: And don’t forget these considerations…

    1. Do you need to launch your site by a specific date? A website build takes time, so if there’s a hard deadline for launch, establish this up front and consider launching in phases.
    2. Do you already have a budget determined? Website development costs can vary greatly depending on the level of customization, integrations and size. Having a budget range in mind up front will guide what items are a “must have” and which belong on the “wish list.”
    3. Lastly, who are the key decision makers in this project? Determining up front who needs to sign off on the different milestones of the website build will help keep things on schedule.

There is of course a lot more that goes into a website redesign, but by following these steps you will be off to a really great start.

Ready to get started? Request a copy of our Website Development Workbook.