By: Marc Acton, Associate Creative Director
There isn’t just one right way to pull off a website refresh. But, there sure are a whole lot of wrong ones! And, unless you do this kind of thing regularly, there are some pretty easy pitfalls to get trapped in. So, whether you’re managing a huge marketing team or you’re hiring the job out, these four tips will help you stay on budget, on time, and on target.
Put one person in charge.
A website refresh is made up of literally hundreds of micro-decisions. Usually your designers will make most of them. Sometimes, whoever is directing your content will steer decisions. But, ultimately, an indecisive team is going to struggle with the nuts and bolts of building. If you’re performing a big redesign, you’ll probably benefit from empowering some lieutenants, who can make some of the smaller choices. But, building a website by committee will not be efficient or effective. So, while you might have multiple stakeholders, you should ideally have only one final decision maker.
Aim to change less than half of your content.
One of the easiest areas for scope creep in a website refresh is moving towards a full site redesign. If you’re going to redesign the site, then do so. But, giving the old site a fresh coat of paint is a much easier operation—if you let it be. So, don’t get caught up in the excitement of building something new and decide to change everything. Instead, set some realistic goals, recognizing that you are not starting from scratch, nor should you. Because consistency isn’t just appropriate here, it’s going to save you time, effort, and money.
Make noticeable changes.
Whether you’re trying to attract new clients, develop a new business vertical, or you just want to impress your boss who put you in charge of the project, adding at least a little wow factor will go a long way. While some might want to tackle too much in a refresh, others—especially if you’re trying to do too much redesign with too few human resources—will lean towards not changing enough. Imagine your potential customers. How often do they come to your site? Once every couple of months, maybe? Now, decide how much you’ll have to change in order for them to notice. Maybe it’s just completely redoing your homepage. Maybe it’s adding a major interactive section (like we’re doing with our latest website refresh). Whatever your splash factor, make sure it’s big enough to make at least a few waves.
Prioritize substance over style.
It’s really easy to let your designers take your website and run, especially when they’re some of the best in the business (like ours!). Your designers are excited about what they do, or you wouldn’t have hired them in the first place. But, it’s also extremely important to balance out your artistic hands with your strategic thinkers. Letting your designers run wild is a great way to come up with unique solutions to your problems. But, it’s also like hooking your wagon to some wild stallions—they’ll take you places you never knew you could go, but arriving at your ultimate destination often requires discipline and proper steering. And, what looks pretty isn’t always what sells. Finding the sweet spot is the key.
1. Don’t forget to track your data after your new changes go live.
2. Pick one or two business dials you’d like to move with your new content, and let those drive your creative choices.
3. Have fun. If your team is enjoying your work, they’re going to crank out a better product.
In the end, a website refresh should be exciting, it should enhance your brand by aligning it with current design and web best practices, and it should pair your most valuable data with results-oriented content.
But, for some, it might be easier to just bring in the experts, even though a redesign feels like a small job. Fortunately, we know some of the best in the business.
Marc Acton was born at a very young age in a moderately old town in Florida. Some other stuff happened, and then he became iostudio’s Associate Creative Director. For us, he proudly pokes and prods projects for the Army National Guard including social media and web, writing and strategizing content that converts. He is a fan of the Oxford comma, saying more with less, and helping write bios for extremely talented iostudians. He also flies helicopters for the Army National Guard. Which reminds us, how can you tell if a helicopter pilot is at your party? (He’ll tell you.)