13 Tips to Make Redesigning Your Website Less Scary

13 Tips to Make Redesigning Your Website Less Scary

Eric Martin, former Interactive Media Specialist for Vision Maker Media, worked at Vision Maker Media from 1996-2015 and is currently the Content Media Strategist for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications.

Date Posted: 
2012-04-17 00:00

Blog Series:

  1. Design for Mobile First. This is a good idea not only because more and more people are accessing the web from mobile devices, but it will also force you to pare down your site to its core essential functions.

  2. Create a Site that Uses Responsive Design. No one can make a single site that looks good on a 27" monitor and a handheld phone, so set up your site so that it changes depending on how it is being viewed. Good examples of responsive design can be found at mediaqueri.es.

  3. Move to a CMS (Content Management System). Here are a few open source ones Content Management Systems, that we've either had a good experience with or have heard good things about: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. WordPress and Drupal also have options that will host your content so you don't have to set-up your own server.

  4. Integrate Social Media Tools into Your Site. Social media is a cheap and easy way for people to spread the word about your site. Giving people the tools to connect with and share your connect is a great way to increase user satisfaction and drive traffic to your site. There are several different ways to add social media to your site including widgets from sites such as Facebook or twitter, a third-party widget like ShareThis, a CMS module and Google Analytics code.

  5. Create User Profiles or Stories. Figure out what your users want to do at your site by either looking at your website analytics or asking them through surveys. We like surveymonkey for online surveys. Creating stories will help you work through the way people tend to interact with your site and will help your developer get a clear picture of what you want.

  6. Speaking of analytics, if you don't already, you should start to Use Analytics Software. Google Analytics is great, because it is powerful and free.

  7. Get a Graphic Designer who has designed themes for the CMS your site will be created in. If your graphic designer can create something stunning that works, it will save you money when the coders go to build the actual site.

  8. Check References and make sure if references speak well of the group that their site was built using the same technology you will be using.

  9. Identify a Project Manager within your organization that can talk tech with your developers or make sure that someone on your development team is well versed in what your organization does. Think of this as the translator between the people that know your organization and that know how to build your site.

  10. Start Getting Your Content Ready to Move Over as Soon as Possible. Remember when the shell of your site is done, you still need to add content. There have been many sites that have been delayed months because they waited to get the content ready for the new site until the site was 100% done.

  11. Build in Some Additional Funds and Time in Your Budget and Timeline, so you can handle overages in both. Most projects go over budget and time. Be prepared and plan for it.

  12. Test Your Site on your users or those who you hope to be your users. You don't need to spend a bunch of money. Don’t know who your users are? Look at the demographics of your Facebook Insights or ask in your survey mentioned above.Go to a community center or public place and bring a laptop and tablet for people to surf your site and give you feedback.

  13. Don't Let the Great Be the Enemy of the Good and Remember that a Good Plan Today is Better than a Great Plan Tomorrow. The web is ever changing. Custom coding takes a while and maybe you can reach your goals with an existing module. Perhaps there is a theme for your site that already exists and that can look great with just a little tweak here or there. By keeping costs low and timelines short, you can create another iteration of you site based on real-world feedback from your users.

There are way more tips one could give, but these are the ones that are either new, really important or often overlooked.

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