success or failure

The notion that an enterprise website needs to be completely overhauled every few years is no longer as commonly accepted as, say five years ago. As we explored in our last webinar, we’ve observed organizations nowadays looking to maintain the freshness of their websites through continuous, incremental improvements over time.

But for this approach to be effective, you have to start with a relatively strong web presence. Your company won’t benefit from only minor incremental adjustments to a digital strategy that desperately needs a major overhaul. If you are in need of a major overhaul, and you plan to work with an agency or consultant, keep reading.

We’ve delved into our deepest memories to relay some lessons learned from hundreds of digital strategy and website redesign projects over the past decade. I won’t waste your time by telling you how important it is to have a creative designer, a skilled developer, or a clear understanding of your business objectives. Rather, the following are four logistical musts for embarking on a website redesign project that runs smoothly, on-time and within budget:  

  1. miscommunicationPractice explicit (even excessive) communication: of course, communication is a two-way street. As the buyer, you have to clearly describe your organization, your challenges and your objectives; alternatively, it’s the agency’s responsibility to thoroughly explain project tasks, costs and assumptions. Throughout the project, you must be able to keep all internal stakeholders in the loop around progress, and it’s critical for the agency to clarify and resolve any risks or unforeseen circumstances. Better to over-communicate and annoy than to under-communicate and be blind-sided.
  2. Involve executive approvers early: this seems so obvious, but if your brand new digital marketing strategy and website are going to be subject to the feedback and approval of a few executive stakeholders, doesn’t it make sense to solicit their input at the beginning of the project? Not doing so creates the possibilities of misunderstood objectives and wasted design and development efforts. Insist that executive approvers have the opportunity to share their views and requirements at the beginning of the project.
  3. Employ adequately skilled project managers: as critical as it is for your consultant to have a skilled and experienced project manager, it is almost as important for you as the buyer to designate a seasoned point of contact for a website overhaul effort. Inexperience on either side can lead to general miscommunication, misunderstanding of tasks and responsibilities, and a much higher likelihood of “rookie mistakes” that could derail the project.
  4. Develop a clear plan for content (before and after launch): this tends to be one of the most frequently forgotten and disregarded facets of a website redesign project. When scoping out a site redesign project and trying to estimate the timeline, make sure you have a plan for your content that accounts for improvements to existing copy, new copywriting, new imagery/video, SEO and on-going content maintenance responsibilities. In addition, make sure you have adequate staff in place to support your digital strategy post-launch. Too often this is overlooked, and content gets stale in the weeks and months after site launch due to lack of bandwidth to support the generation and maintenance of content, social media channels and other facets of a digital strategy.

Clearly, there’s more to a successful digital marketing and website overhaul project than these four items, but these tend to be common pitfalls that often plague projects that were otherwise bound for success. Speaking of common pitfalls… Check out our next webinar! - Over Budget and Out of Time: Common Pitfalls of a Website Redesign Project and How to Avoid Them

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