Has anyone here led a complete website redesign before? If so, I’d love to learn best practices on your process especially in the beginning stages

Valerie:
Website redesigns are an exercise in managing expectations and to that end requirements gathering from each and every department that has a vested interest in the website’s new design is imperative. This is a step that is frequently overlooked and that can lead to a lot of issues down the road including the much dreaded “scope creep”, where your original plan for a simple site can quickly metastasize into an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink site. By requirements, I mean both technical and business – the focus is too often on technical, but you should have clear business goals for your redesign – not just “make it nicer.”

My best advice is to:

  1. Define a list of all stakeholders
  2. Define decision-making rights (who has the final say?)
  3. Set an initial project meeting with all stakeholders
  4. Set expectations – best to come armed with a requirements template to share with each stakeholder so you can get requirements in a consistent format.
  5. Set a timeline for requirements
  6. Gather requirements
  7. Review requirements

At this point you should be thinking about prioritizing requirements based on business goals and budget and sorting them out into “must have” and “nice to have,” but the best way to solve for this is to ask what is a must versus a need in your template. Ideally you can review this with a technical partner to get a sense of the effort (financial and time). This will help you build a project plan and then start working toward development and then release.

The thing that often throws most website redesigns off is not understanding what the main goal is beyond just providing a public face to a company. If you plan on using your site to host multimedia content, conduct e-commerce, and so on the need for a content management system will be high and this can be a huge component of the project (and requirements).

It’s a really good idea to work with a technical project manager on website redesigns, in my experience, as they can help you stay organized while you focus on making sure the original goals and objectives are in full view of every decision.

Hope that helps!

The best advice I can give for a complete website redesign is focus tremendously on organization and set pretty strict deadlines. Figure out the timeline in which you can complete the project, ie. how long will it take to write content for each page, how long will it take to code, can you use the same layout for multiple pages, etc. and set realistic deadlines for the completion of each step. It’s helpful to work this way because it can be overwhelming thinking of each thing you need to do and by breaking it down piece by piece, everyone knows what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed by. Create a high level outline of your homepage, menu bar and each subpage, then a more detailed outline of your individual pages and break down by order of importance.

Hope that makes sense and helps!