A Complete Guide On Preparing Yourself For A Website Redesign Project (Part 2/2)

Posted on September 22, 2011 by
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Here is the Link to Part 1 incase you missed it: Part 1

Considering back end requirements

This is particularly important on CMS-based sites or sites that use automated content management. You should also consider back end requirements if you want to add automation in your site.

Many sites have technical requirements and features that must be customized. Some website owners forget to consider current features and requirements, which leaves them with a more complex conversion process.

To improve the process, you should write down all your current requirements, so you won’t forget any features and can migrate to the new design smoothly. Eventually, by taking enough time to organize those specifics, you can save plenty of time down the road.

A good redesign project should take into account the site development since it was first launched. You should analyze how the site was developed. Does the site has achieved any goal and if it has, do you need to set new goals?

If the goal of your redesign is to provide better interactivity, then you should consider what design elements that can help you to achieve it. For example, you may need to have a better contact form or a more attractive “call-to-action” button.

When implementing a new design, you may need to start over and take a fresh look on your website and where it should go in the future.

Establishing objectives for your site

When you’re planning to redesign a website, you should consider what your audience really wants. You may need to conduct a poll or ask people directly about things that should be improved in your website.

Other than directly asking your visitors, it is also important to understand about your audience. Even if you have a small audience, you should know things that can attract them. Your new design should always prioritize your current and future visitors,

This is also a good time to deal with your accessibility issues, if your old design has one. You shouldn’t only accommodate your visitors’ wants, try also to give them with what they need, even if they don’t realize it yet. For example, consider whether your visitors will benefit from a light or dark background. Would they benefits from resizable or larger texts? Should you use fluid or fixed design?

As your site evolves, you should make sure that your keywords can match the changes. You need to have a fresher look at the optimization effort and find out about how users can get into your site and once they enter your site, do they find what they want?

During a site redesign, you should consider changes and improvements you may need to do on the keywords and other SEO elements. A good redesign project should also be able to optimize all aspects of the website and if possible enhance them. During a redesign, you should check the loading speed of your landing pages. A good redesign project should be able to simplify things and give visitors what they want quickly.

This step can help you to assess your existing pages and find ways to improve them. Good pages can become better by eliminating unnecessary elements.

Checking the competitors

After obtaining all required information, you should consider whether you should think outside the box. For example, it is often helpful to review your competitors’ website before planning for a redesign. Of course, you shouldn’t copy them, but you should note their strengths and weaknesses. Use your imagination and creativity to have the same strengths in your website, but without the weaknesses.

Write down five (the more the better) of your biggest competitors and write overviews about their site. What their goals are and where they are lacking? What new features you should incorporate to make you better than your competitors? Study their contents and do they have specific highlights? Try to draw new ideas or concepts based on what you’ve learned. While you’re analyzing your competitors, you should note minor details that you can improve. If you have a random thought, you can write it down; perhaps you could build something on it later.

Four steps of website redesign process

After you have completed the brainstorming phase and also have written all of your ideas, you need to organize them into a number of actionable steps. After a long preparation process, you should know how to apply the information you get during the planning to the actual website redesigning process. With a good planning, the actual redesign task will be easier, faster and more reliable.

1. Brand update

Once the research phase is completed, it’s the time to begin the redesign project. First, you need to consider your current brand. During your last research, you may note things in your color scheme, tag line, logo and other elements that can be improved.

There is a huge difference between upgrading and “re-touching” a brand. Any attempt in upgrading your brand may cause more harm than good, because should try to keep your brand intact, it should still have the same message, logo and general style.

However, although your logo shouldn’t change at all, it was created years ago and trends have changed, as the result it could benefit from slight polishing.

  • * Check its details, color and general appearance. Can you improve them without changing its meaning?
  • * Check whether your tagline is still relevant with your goals? If you need to update your current goals, does it make your tag line obsolete? Each site has unique style, whether it is elegant, modern or creative. Whatever style you want to use in the next design, it should still be in sync with your current brand.
  • * Color plays an important role in the site design. It is recommended to reduce or increase some of your colors, but some colors shouldn’t change. Maybe you could add a new complementary color, while retaining others.  Since colors can significantly affect perception and mood, you should choose them carefully.

2. Wireframing

A good designer should wireframe ahead of time to get better visual hierarchy, alignment and balance. You should be able to position all elements early on without thinking too much about the details

At this point, we can safely plan about things you should change with the sitemap. You may not need to change it, but often you do need to make some changes. As you continue on your path, you should see that a redesign project is not all about the design; you also need to consider things such as organization, functionality and usability as well.

You can begin with your homepage and then move to your navigation system. At certain pages, you may need to add certain features, for example, you should add RSS link on the main page. By setting up your sitemap properly, you can visualize your contents better.

If you ignore sitemaps, it’s easy to forget about important contents as you progress through the wireframe. This could cause some problems down the road, especially if you want to fit certain new elements in the design. Mastering wireframing requires practice and takes time. Because it’s a very important part in the redesign project, you should give it due attention throughout the whole process.

When working with a sitemap, you should make sure that the initial wireframe can give you with everything you need. This can help you to improve upon any idea you come across. Always ask for second opinions to experienced people so you can improve it. Ask them about things in the wireframe that stand out the most.

3. Master Design

After finishing the planning and the redesign, you can move on to the core of the project: the actual website. Those who abandoned their redesign project might start at this stage, they opened Photoshop, choose a nice color and then forget about it.

Luckily, you’re better prepared than them.

  • * You’ve researched
  • * You’ve work with style, colors and branding.
  • * You’ve established a wireframe.

At this moment, you’ve done with the boring stuff. You can let the creativity flows without worrying about small technical details or whether you’ve done everything right. If you follow the above instructions, you have everything planned out.

You should review things that you have already gone over. If your research spanned a couple of weeks, you should review about things that you have prepared. It’s a good idea to print out the wireframe and keep it nearby for reference. Try to put everything in place and you can start from there, for example you can perform balancing, alignment and detailing. You should make your goals come true.

4. Development and testing

Finally, you reach the real thing, now you can start to develop and perform tests. You can begin to code the design and make it fully functional. If you have a solid planning, you can ignore accessibility issues and back-end requirements at this stage,

At this point everything should be quite straightforward, just stick to your original plan and everything should run well.

Because you transfer old contents into the new design, there could some unexpected errors. In fact, errors are quite likely. You should double-check all links and check them manually. Test the loading speed and make optimizations when needed. Fix any “behind-the-scene” error and double check for validation.

This is the last chance to ask visitors and professionals about things that you may have overlooked, For example, there could still be some accessibility issues or you forget to add some features. Mistakes will happen, even in the most carefully designed plan. To limit them, you should catch these mistakes, before they even have the opportunity to occur.

When everything is completed, your final test should be the most thorough. Always give your visitors the opportunity to report errors that happen in your site.

Conclusion

Good website owners should feel the constant need to improve the overall Web presence. Often, your website is already working well and you need to accept it. You should decide whether a redesign project is needed at all.

If you decide that your website must be redesigned, then you need to follow necessary steps to get intended results. Without a thorough analysis and an adequate preparation, even the greatest design guru can’t complete the task effectively. A successful redesign project requires determination and good organization skill. With these characteristics, you can effectively carry out the redesign project.

About: This Article was Contributed by Raja. He is a Web Hosting industry watcher and writes regularly on Dedicated Hosting Reviews and Reseller Hosting Reviews.

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