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If you are thinking of redesigning your website, a good plan should always be the first step. A website redesign can be a long and arduous process but it need not be if you take the right steps to planning. This will help take some of the pain out of unnecessary admin, avoid miscommunication and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes branding and content.

If you’re considering a redesign but not sure whether your website needs one, that’s normally a pretty good sign it needs one. If it’s already crossed your mind there’s probably a good reason for it; perhaps your business has grown, you’ve created new products that need to be marketed or your company has even entered new markets.

So before you embark on your redesign, ensure you properly review your current website and your future business plans to help inform any decisions you make. Below are the lessons we learnt through redesigning one of our own websites. These tips will also help you to carefully study your website and identify the elements that can be optimised.

  1. Expect the unexpected—always plan for changing design, branding and content
Even when you think you know what you’re planning for with a redesign, think again. Anything can happen from an acquisition, a completely new branding strategy or the decision from above to streamline seven websites into one. Scenario planning is key, understanding the priorities of the key decision makers in your company. By understanding what they have coming in the company pipeline, you’ll be able to map your design priorities accordingly.
  1. Involve decision makers from the beginning of the project
In addition to understanding your decision makers’ goals, getting their buy in from the beginning to prioritise decisions for the project is crucial. Getting their buy-in at the project’s inception will help you to get approval for content quickly, making your project management much more agile.

When we redesigned our Telerik website, we had senior management’s buy-in on our project from the beginning, and it took us only six months to visually transform and rebuild the website—a relatively short period given the magnitude of the project.

  1. Weave in “visual language” to engage your customer
We all love pictures – images that will take us, as a consumer, on a journey through a website. At the same time, we don’t want sensory overload. Your website visual story will shape your visitor’s perception of the company. Keep your visual language clear, crisp and simplified. Remove every detail that is not crucial so as not to distract your visitor from the content and create a balance between strongly contrasting elements and techniques. In terms of graphics you can balance sharp corners with ovals, as well as warm colours with cold or neutral colours.
  1. Ensure that the user can discover the content they want, quickly
When the user navigates a web page, a large number of clicks through to find content can create the impression that the website is not well organised. By reducing the depth of the website to the fewest levels possible, users can access the content they want with fewer clicks. To do this, you may have to simplify your website’s architecture. This should be done in line with how the user navigates so that you can make each step of the workflow predictable, and each element’s function intuitive.

Your website has to work seamlessly regardless of the devices and platforms used. We devoted the necessary time to make different versions of our website comply with various resolutions and other specific elements. We carefully evaluated which items to keep, what to change and what to remove completely depending on the resolution and device.

  1. Create “Rapid Response Teams”
In terms of working processes, forming “Rapid Response Teams”—teams of experts with diverse professional profiles—will enable you to quickly make the right decisions. This includes business, UX, design, implementation and technology. By activating the necessary role at the right moment you won’t waste any time.

The above steps will help you to explore and analyse the key functions and features on your current website and customer journey to understand how these can be optimised. Importantly, in doing so, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions that align with business priorities and really create results.

While a redesign is a project in itself, don’t forget about tracking the success of your new and improved website. By using clever tools such as Telerik Sitefinity CMS that easily integrates with your website and external systems, you can track interactions with users and analyse data in real time. What are you looking for? Based on our experience you should see your website visitors navigate and find the information they seek more quickly and easily.

By Svetoslava Ilieva, Senior Principal Graphic Designer, Web Presence, Progress