New years bring new budgets, which may mean you’re considering a new website. Before you start, here are a few things to consider so your redesign is set up for success.
“So you’re not going to redesign our website?” A prospective client sat across the boardroom table from us with a bewildered look on her face. It was clearly not the answer she was expecting after coming to us with what presented as a straightforward website redesign project.
Her organization had launched a new website just six months earlier, and they were already unhappy with the site’s performance. This seemed to them like a simple overhaul, but after a deeper conversation about their challenges and frustrations, it became clear that a new website wasn’t going to solve their underlying problems.
From our position as a branding and digital agency, this is a misperception we see all too often. Organizations come to us thinking they have a website problem, when in reality the challenges they are experiencing are actually symptoms of a broader brand and communications problem.
As organizations race to stay ahead of the digital curve, many end up in the same place as our prospective client, confused about the true purpose of their website. At the end of the day, a website is a communications tool. Arguably, it’s your most important communications tool, but it is still only a tool. Beautiful design and animations may grab your audience’s attention at first, but your website will only truly deliver value if your brand position is strong, your messages are clear and your target audience has been carefully considered.
We often tell our clients that they don’t just need a website, they need a communications tool that’s going to meet the needs and expectations of their audience. Yet so many organizations aren’t clear on what those needs and expectations are before undergoing a website redesign, and this is often why their projects stall and sometimes fail all together.
Before beginning a website redesign here are three core principles you should be crystal clear on:
- Know Your Brand – What is the one big idea you want to own in the minds of your audience? Can you sum it up in one sentence? Your brand, or how you position yourself with your audience, is your North Star. It defines who you are and what you stand for, and without it you lack the foundation for intentional, informed decision-making.
- Know Your Audience – Who are you talking to? A website has the unique ability to appeal to multiple audiences at one time. By developing a clear content strategy that allows users to self-identify and easily find the content they’re looking for, your website can attract and retain the audience you want. However, this is only successful when you know who you’re talking to and what they need to hear from you.
- Know Your Purpose – What are you trying to achieve with your new website? Every successful website has an agenda, a master plan that guides decision-making as you move through design, development and copywriting. Crystallizing your will prevent “seat of your pants” decision-making that comes from not knowing what you need to achieve.
Before making an investment in a new website, consider whether you have the strategic brand foundation to ensure success and funds well-spent.