Are You Ready for a Website Redesign?

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Guest Post by Carrie Hane, Tanzen

It’s inevitable. Websites need to be redesigned every few years. Design trends change, the site becomes packed with content that makes it difficult for visitors to find what they want, brand identities change, a new device comes along.

When it’s time to redesign your website, make sure you’re ready. If you prepare well for the redesign project, you will find yourself with a longer-lasting solution. And just maybe this time, you’ll have a redesign project that is on-time, on-budget, and gives you a great return on investment. The following six tips will help you prepare for your redesign.

Focus on a problem to be solved

Define the symptoms of your problem instead of a prescription for what you think needs to be done. Would you walk into your doctor and ask for a specific medication, procedure, and recovery plan before describing your symptoms? No? Then don’t put that into your RFP for a new website (or anything else for that matter).

Consultants are natural problem solvers. They can find the right solution to your unique challenges when given the chance. Instead of saying you want a “clean, interactive, modern website” (who doesn’t?!), state what has led you to decide you want a new website. Understanding the symptoms helps you get a better diagnosis and plan for helping your organization meet its goals.

Provide use cases or scenarios instead of requirements

Providing multiple pages of requirements for a website or content management system (CMS) will not get you the best outcome. When shopping for a new system or website, issuing a requirements list turns into an arms race among vendors. You’ll get a bunch of proposals that all look very similar and each vendor will tell you they can do all those things and more. A slick salesperson will talk to you and give you a demo that works perfectly. But only for a fictional company that looks nothing like your organization and doesn’t have your business rules.

Instead, provide scenarios or use cases about how the website will be used by your site visitors, as well as staff who will be maintaining the site. By doing this, the potential partners will be able to tell you how their process will lead to the best outcomes for you. The pricing will be more accurate. Find out early where you fall on the complexity spectrum and set expectations accordingly.

Send RFP to vetted agencies

Posting an RFP on a forum “to share with anyone you know” shows you haven’t done your homework. Much like dating, there are only a few consultants or agencies that are a good match for your organization. Sending out an RFP for anyone to respond to means you’ll get a bunch of proposals from agencies who are good (or not so good) at responding to proposals. The best probably won’t respond at all. You’ll have to wade through more proposals than you have time to handle. And chances are you’ll pick someone who has a good sales pitch, not the best solution.

You need a way to discover who these potential partners are. Use your network to get recommendations. Talk to those agencies before you write your RFP (or skip the RFP and go straight to hammering out a solution). Having conversations about your needs and their process will get you much farther down the road than a bunch of documents being sent around.

Consultants would rather spend their time talking to you and gaining a real understanding of your challenges and opportunities than writing a proposal that is a bunch of guesses about what you want to hear. Get questions answered right away so you can decide whether they are a good fit. You can still get multiple proposals, but now you’re comparing apples to apples and everyone can compete on equal footing.

Match your budget to the solution

You have a budget. Or at least a budget range. Understand what you can get for that amount. If you were shopping for a car, you wouldn’t walk into a Porsche dealer and test drive the 911 Carrera and then tell the salesperson you only have $25,000 to spend on a car. You can still get a perfectly fine car for that amount, but it’s not going to be a new Porsche. Similarly, when you issue an RFP for a new website that includes multiple integrations, complex functionality, and needs to be done in 3 months, you must expect to spend more than $50,000 (and probably adjust your timeline). Talk with potential partners about what you can expect to get for a certain amount. In other words, do your homework.

Being upfront with your budget helps everyone. It sets expectations for whether you can get a Porsche or a Focus. It creates trust and helps consultants provide a realistic solution for what you can spend. You will get a better return on your investment and have a better chance of staying on budget. Good partners would rather establish a long-term relationship than get a quick buck now.

Focus on process rather than ideas

Each combination of an organization staff, its mission and goals, and its audience is unique. Trying to guess what will work for your unique combo risks getting you excited about something that may not be feasible or desirable for your situation or budget. An agency with a solid discovery process will lead you to the best outcome.

Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens after a lot of failures. The a-ha moments happen in the midst of working on a problem. Find the right partner and together you just might find them.

Consider breaking up the project

Instead of looking to do the entire website redesign project in one fell swoop, consider breaking it up into several pieces:

  • Discovery – A project roadmapping session with a consultant and your leadership team can determine the appropriate direction of your redesign project.
  • Content – The content on your site is the reason it exists. You can get your content ready before designing the website interface.
  • Design – Determine the best way to present the content instead of tying the content to design.
  • Development – Not every agency can do design and development with equal finesse. Consider hiring the best developers to implement your solution

It will take some extra work on your part to see things through a multi-stage project, but it will not necessarily make it more expensive. In fact, it might lower your overall cost because you won’t spin your wheels or go down the wrong path. Each step leads into the next and can overlap.

Or you could hire a consultant who specializes in RFPs and selection process or project management. Wouldn’t you rather spend a small fraction of your budget to make sure you do the right project? If you don’t, you might get half-way through your budget and timeline only to discover you’ve gone down the wrong path.

Ready to redesign your website?

Do one last check before you start looking for your redesign partner.

Download a checklist for website redesign RFPs