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Project Management

Website Redesign Strategy - Tips From A Design Agency

Tim Davidson
7 min read

Redesigning a website can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s critical to map out how you will go about the process. This article will detail how to plan and execute your website redesign strategy to achieve all your business goals.

The web moves fast. If your site hasn’t had much attention over the past five years, then chances are it’s going to look dated, even if it was designed by a professional.

A more likely situation is that you designed your site, and your business has grown to the point where the lack of digital professionalism is impacting your brand. If that’s the case, it’s time to impress potential clients, customers and partners with a website redesign.

Unless you work in web design or development, the following steps you should take may not be clear, so that we will shed some light on the situation.

Planning and executing a website redesign is a reasonably linear process (unlike application development). If you follow these steps, you’ll dramatically increase the chances of your project finishing on time and within budget.

These steps assume that you’re busy doing your job and don’t have time to design and develop the website yourself; however, they’re still relevant even if that’s the case.

Feel free to skip ahead by using the navigation links below:

Figure out your sitemap

If you’re redesigning your site, are you also planning to extend the resources or content you offer to visitors? Maybe you want to add a set of landing pages tailored for Google ads. Or your business may be offering a new service? Or, more simply, everything is already perfect, and you don’t need to change anything.

Plotting your sitemap is the first thing to figure out because it will broadly define the budget and schedule of the project. Turning a 10-page website into a 30-page website requires more thought than simply “reskinning” the same website without changing the internal structure too much.

A well-organised sitemap is vital for SEO and Google’s page rankings. To use a metaphor, it’s kind of like organising the arrangement of a lengthy essay. For the paper to be easy to read, it needs to have well-organised chapters that don’t repeat too much and take the reader on a structured journey.

There are a handful of friendly tools that can make this process easier. We use FlowMapp at the start of every new redesign project. You can upload your site’s XML sitemap into FlowMapp, and it will generate a visual flowchart of the pages. From here, you can add, remove and restructure your sitemap.

FlowMapp diagram of the clean commit website's sitemap

FlowMapp is free if you’re only using it for one project. It also brings the benefit of listing any of those orphaned pages that you may have forgotten!

Prepare your content

If you’re planning to rewrite the content on your website, get this done first. I can’t stress this enough. Content should always precede web design.

There may be some discussion between the content writer and web designer to ensure the way the content flows will fit nicely into the intended structure. This conversation is a million times easier to have when the site hasn’t already been designed. It’s surprisingly hard to write copy that fits nicely into an established design.

On average, about half our clients don’t have their content prepared before the project starts. We usually work around it by adding lorem ipsum (placeholder text). This placeholder text can be a pain to clean up later in the projects for larger sites.

Great content takes a long time to write, so get it done early.

We find the best way to write content for a new website is to create a wireframe in Figma and add blocks of text roughly in the places you think they should go. The trick here is to ignore the “design” of what you’re building. It should be rough to avoid prescribing the design approach.

screenshot of a wireframe with written content

The image above is a good example but could even be a few degrees rougher and still be incredibly useful.

Gather your images, video and assets

We wrote an article a while back that details the 11 things to prepare for a website project. To save you clicking the link, these are the things we mention:

  1. Images and video to be used on the site
  2. Website content
  3. Privacy policy
  4. Terms of use
  5. Social media links
  6. Google Tag Manager installation snippet
  7. CRM or email service provider forms
  8. Stripe and PayPal permissions
  9. Logo
  10. Branding guidelines
  11. Domain credentials

We’ve already covered the importance of website content, but the rest of these assets are critical to the project. Get them ready ahead of time to make your website redesign smoother.

We strongly recommend you read that article if you don't understand how to prepare any of the assets mentioned above. We've provided a great breakdown of what each asset is and how it can be quickly prepared.

Research your style

Researching your new style is the fun part of the process!

Assuming that you’re working with a web designer, they’ll want to draw inspiration from other great websites. You want a unique design, but it’s important to remember that there are 1.7 billion websites. Users mentally categorise the kinds of websites they come across. While your site should be unique and well presented, it should also roughly follow the best practice trends of other successful businesses.

Researching the web is an art form, and we couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface of approaching this task. Regardless, here are a few ways to find cool example sites:

  • Google “my industry” + “web design examples”
  • Search on Reddit for “my industry” + “website examples”
  • Browse the Awwwards sites. Although, these sites are often over-designed and perform poorly.
  • Use keyword tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to analyse your site’s competitors and check out their web design
  • Browse web design projects on Dribbble or Behance

screenshot of Clean Commit's Dribbble portfolio

Another great way to find design inspiration is to browse big brands like IKEA, Microsoft, Github, Stripe, and pretty much any successful software as a service company. These businesses have strong incentives to optimise their web design and online presence. They often employ the world’s best web designers and spend millions of dollars streamlining their websites. Take advantage of their efforts.

Define any special features

If your website developer is worth their salt, they’ll set your site up with a content management system (CMS). The CMS lets you create, edit and delete content. If it’s a monolithic system like WordPress, it will often allow you to add plugins to achieve additional functionality.

Adding plugins to a website is fraught with danger. Plugins are essentially packages of code that extend your website’s codebase. They can cause performance issues, expose your site’s security and damage the user experience.

Rather than randomly adding plugins, a better approach is to write down all the functions you would like the website to perform. For example, if you want the site to pull pictures off Instagram to display on the home page, your developer can build this functionality directly into the codebase. There’s no need for a clunky plugin that could break or cause performance issues.

You may want some features that need to be coded from scratch. Jotting these features down will ensure your developer creates the website you want.

Communicate milestones and deadlines

This tip sounds obvious, but communicating when you need things done is essential to keep the project on track. Your developer can only achieve a deadline if they’re aware of its existence.

The websites we build usually take about two to three weeks to design and around four to six weeks to develop, depending on their size. If our clients have hard deadlines they need to hit, we can shuffle the project around to build the website in stages.

Communicating deadlines doesn’t mean that the development team will complete the entire project quicker than estimated. However, it means that you can keep in a level of control over the project’s progress, which can be difficult if you’re not working directly with the team working on your website.

One of the first steps we take when working with clients is understanding their deadlines and milestones and mapping them out onto a simple GANTT chart. This approach is overkill for a simple project, but it’s better to be clear and expressive than miss a deadline that negatively impacts our client’s business in some way.

Wrapping up

If you’ve followed these steps to the tee, then you’re ready to kick off your web redesign project and chances are it will be a huge success.

The only thing left is finding the right web design and development partner to do your brand justice. Reach out to us today to see if we’re the right fit for your project. Feel free to check out our recent work and approach to web design and development before contacting us.

Tim Davidson
Tim Davidson
Tim is the face of the company. When you want to kick off a new project, or an update on your existing project, Tim is your man. With a background in project management, Tim specialises in managing the chaos around the company.

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