Ten Sure-Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Next Web Redesign (Part 2)

  • Brad Ettinger
  • December 10, 2014

Last week, we brought you lessons 1-5 of this post. Now without further adieu, 5 more common mistakes to avoid in your next web redesign:

6. Bring customers in at the end to make sure everything makes sense.

You had the best intentions. You were going to develop a test-proven, user-centric, persona-driven humdinger of a redesign. Then Reality stepped in – and with it came things like budget, schedule, and resources limitations. User testing had to take a backseat to these other priorities. Now you've got three weeks to launch and, hey, there’s a little time and money left! Why not spend them on some usability testing for the final product, just as a sanity check. Better late than never, right?

Well, yes. But much better early than late. While it’s never a bad idea to get customer input on a redesign, it’s always better to do it as far upstream as possible. That way, even if the feedback is directional or broad in nature, at least you’ll have some user-generated data points to base everything upon downstream. By waiting until the last minute to involve your users, you risk spending lots of time and money developing a solution that doesn't necessarily meet your user’s needs. If you discover that you are on the entirely wrong path, or you need to make major changes to make the site more usable and effective, it may be too late and too expensive to recover. So plan to incorporate user testing early and often. And stick to your guns.

7. License a whizz-bang new CMS and take the load off staff resources.

At Velir, we love content management systems (CMS). Love, love, love. It’s been a core part of who we are and what we do for over a decade, and we take great pleasure and pride in helping organizations design, build and operationalize websites and publishing platforms. There are many reasons why a great CMS, like Sitecore, for instance, makes good sense for an organization: dynamic, scheduled content publishing, powerful workflow tools, efficiencies, editorial capabilities, and the ability to make changes to the site without technical development. You may be tempted to justify this cool new toy by claiming efficiencies in staff costs as well.

But saving on overall staff time really isn’t one of the key benefits of a CMS. You need to support the engine that generates the content. In fact, you may actually need to increase staff if you change your publishing process, or to help with ongoing maintenance and support items. If you are managing a large web property without a CMS, you may also see a shift in operational resources from technical to editorial skill sets, but probably not a significant reduction in overall resource needs. A sophisticated CMS is a great investment; the more time you spend with it, the more you can do and the better you can do it. But once you get your new engine up and running, you’re going to need the right amount of resources to keep it running.

8. Launch the site first, then worry about governance and publishing models.

If your website redesign includes setting up a CMS, it can be tempting to put off detailed discussions about how the system will be used until later phases of the project. And often “later phases” means “never,” as the project team becomes entrenched in the gritty day-to-day efforts of keeping the project on track. (We know…we do this for a living). After all, once the system is setup and the new site is live, you have all the time in the world to figure out publishing processes. Except that you don’t.

To design, setup and test a CMS for your organization, the content and publishing workflows need to be well mapped out in order to use the CMS to its full potential. Do you want automatic updates pushed to the site in some areas, but not others? Do you require layers of review and approvals before content gets published? Will there be a set schedule for content publishing? How do you want to define or limit access, if at all, for editorial roles? Will all editors have access to common libraries of graphics files? Thinking through questions like these is time-consuming work, but it’s necessary to take advantage of the full power of your new CMS – and to avoid reworking things post-implementation.

9. Whatever you do, don’t change current business processes.

Change is hard. And change for the wrong reason is bad business. As part of a web redesign project, you almost certainly will need to reconsider your current content workflow and publishing processes. If your project entails a new CMS, e-commerce, or customer management system, you’ll likely need to document the broader business processes as well, which are often cross-organizational and complex. Almost as a rule, organizations default to business as usual hoping current business processes and minimal operational changes will be good enough. Let’s just keep the scope under control and everything else will take care of itself.

The reality is, new systems almost always require some operational changes. These changes will often result in great efficiencies, a better product, or improved customer satisfaction. A web redesign is a great catalyst to evaluate and improve how things are done, to the benefit of the organization and the customer. Don’t let this opportunity slide on by.

Let’s say your organization publishes an annual compilation of data, just like it has for the past thirty years. Using a CMS to publish this data to the web does not require any change to those processes. Then again, it sure as heck would be great to examine ways that you could use authoring and collaboration tools to streamline the process, make it easier on reviewers, and improve the end product for customers. And, by the way, don’t you market that product to your customers? Depending on your CMS, you could revolutionize your marketing tactics to be more targeted, more personalized and far more powerful than direct mail or bulk email. Current business processes were probably developed based on then-current technologies; new technologies should influence new processes.

10. Push everything off onto your vendor.

A website redesign is a huge undertaking for any organization. But while it’s underway, someone still has to make the donuts. We know that you are an efficiency machine and, before this project was even conceived, your staff was probably 98% utilized. Why not bring in a company like Velir, hand over the reins, and let us do our thing until we ride off in the glow of your beautiful new web site?

Well – there’s no easy way to put this – but that ain’t gonna cut it. If a web site redesign project is going to succeed, it’s going to take significant participation from across the organization – before, during and even after the project is complete. It doesn't have to be a huge team, but you need internal champions participating throughout the project, from kick-off to implementation. We can guide you every step of the way, including design decisions, optimizing the user experience, implementing your new CMS and helping you get as much out of it as possible. But we need you by our side, as our partner, providing corporate history and perspective, subject matter and content expertise, and taking ownership of content publishing processes once the new site is up and running.

And when it works, amazing results are achieved:  you contribute your organizational knowledge and skill sets, and we round it out with our expertise and experience in digital strategy, design, and technologies.  More than anything, we've found it’s these trusted partnerships that pave the way for web redesign success.