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8 Reasons Website Redesign Projects Go off the Rails

Have you tried a meal kit service like Always Fresh or Blue Apron?

I’m not exactly Gordon Ramsay so I was a little hesitant and not quite sure what to expect when I tried Blue Apron for the first time.

However, when the box arrived, any reservations I had were put to rest. All the ingredients were there and perfectly proportioned out. It was dummy proof!

I remember thinking to myself “Why can’t cooking always be this easy?” There are always so many different mistakes that can make a meal can go from five-star cuisine to “toss this in the garbage, we’re getting McDonald’s.”

Redesigning your website can be a pretty similar experience to cooking. When all the proper prep work is done and the necessary steps are followed, the final product comes out great.

However, when you start skipping steps or adding the wrong ingredients, it’s usually a recipe for disaster.

If you’re trying to really perfect your website redesign recipe, read on to see the top reasons a website redesign projects can go off the rails.

1. Redesigning for the Wrong Reasons

So, you’ve finally decided to pull the trigger invest in a redesign for your site. That’s awesome! You go, Glen Coco!

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Redesigns require a large investment of people’s time, money, and energy so coming to the decision is no easy task.

However, before getting too far down the rabbit hole of a redesign, it’s important to identify the main pain point you’re trying to solve.

Identifying this goal early will help to make sure you’re redesigning your site for the right reasons and not wasting valuable resources.

Issues such as “I just don’t like our website anymore,” or “Our competitor just redesigned their site,” are poor reasons for a redesign and can do more harm than good.

If your site effectively attracts visitors and converts leads, there’s no reason to change it. Let your analytics be the judge rather than your own subjective opinion.

There are also many good reasons to redesign your website. Some of those include things such as:

  • Your site doesn’t provide value to visitors
  • Your site doesn’t accommodate mobile users or isn’t responsive
  • The site is difficult to navigate, and it’s not clear what certain pages are for
  • The software it’s built on makes simple updates difficult or near impossible

2. Not Clearly Defining the Goals and Priorities of the Redesign

Starting a new website redesign can give you a real surge of excitement.

You’re pumped to finally execute all those ideas and images you’ve had in your head for months. However, all that excitement can make it tempting for you to jump ahead in the redesign process and dive right into design.

Feeling excited about a project is awesome, but you need wrangle that excitement in a bit and start by setting some SMART goals. (I know, real original, right?)

But it’s true. SMART goals will give you a clear roadmap for what your new site should achieve and whether or not the redesign was successful.

Some simple tips for setting goals include:

  • Set long and short-term goals that the meet five SMART characteristics
  • Communicate those goals to everyone working on the project
  • Set benchmarks of steps you need to take in order to hit those goals

3. Ignoring Your Buyer Personas & Data

Here’s a marketing oxymoron for you – Even though your website is about your company, it’s not the place to talk about yourself or even think about your personal preferences (at least not too much).

I know that probably sounds pretty counterintuitive, but websites are no longer just a place you try to constantly sell yourself to people.

They’re an extension of your marketing and sales team to help connect you with new prospects and more importantly help solve problems for your ideal buyer persona.  

When it comes to a website redesign, put aside your own personal design preferences and make decisions solely based off of your personas’ preferences and needs.

Making changes based on data will make sure you don’t change anything that’s currently working on your site.

Ignoring those personas and data during a redesign may lead to a website that looks great (to you, at least), but it likely won’t speak to your ideal customers and, in turn, it won’t achieve your business goals.  

When considering your personas when redesigning your website, pay particular attention to:

  • How each persona will interact with every page on your site
  • What your persona would look for on your website
  • Their browsing behavior: mobile vs desktop, etc.

4. Failing to Properly Scope Technical Requirements

One of the most important steps in a redesign project is properly scoping your new website’s technical requirements.

Ironically, this is one of the most commonly overlooked steps, due to a lack of communication between all the parties working on a project.

Before a website moves over to development, everyone involved needs to understand what platform your website is being built on, what integrations you want and need, and where your domain and hosting credentials live.

Nailing down this information early in the process will help you save time, avoid unnecessary revisions, and ultimately help keep your project on track. Nothing will stop a project dead in its tracks quicker than finding out a key piece of functionality you need on the website is out of scope or budget.   

5. Setting an Unrealistic Timelines

Creating a realistic timeline is something that a lot of companies struggle with. It can be easy to underestimate the amount of planning and strategy that typically goes into making a truly remarkable website.

Setting deadlines that are too tight always leads to a decrease in quality, as it’s common to overlook little things when you’re rushing.

When it comes to estimating a redesign project, plan on spending AT LEAST 3 hours every week working on the website.

This includes dedicating time for things such as giving feedback on design, weekly progress meetings, and content creation.

While every website redesign is different, you can generally plan on the typical redesign taking about 2-5 months, but obviously, the more pages and advanced functionality the site has will increase that timeline.

For example, if you need to turn around a website in two months, but you’ve just started talking to agencies and don’t know what you need, that’s probably not a realistic timeline.

6. Sacrificing Functionality for Aesthetics

One of the biggest redesign struggles that hits close to home for me is not letting functionality come second to aesthetics.

As a designer, I want every page I work on to be a piece of art with a sleek design, big beautiful images, and colors that really stand out. Focusing solely on the look of your site, however, makes it easy to overlook the functionality aspect of the site.

When moving into the design phase of your redesign, it’s crucial to remember that a site’s good looks must come second to functionality.

You need to find a happy medium of a site that looks well done but still remains functional. The latest and most popular design trends won’t always work for your buyer personas. Even if the site looks beautiful, if it doesn’t do what users and your business needs it to, it wasn’t worth the time.

7. Selecting the Wrong Redesign Partner

Unless your company is one of the few lucky places to have a fully functional website redesign team (including a front-end designer, developer, copywriter, etc.), then you’re going to need to consider hiring an agency for your next redesign project.

Choosing the right agency partner is a huge decision and involves more than finding one with the right price tag or a convenient location.

Agencies come in many different shapes and sizes. Some pride themselves on their outside-of-the-box design work, while others specialize in developing on a specific platform such as HubSpot or WordPress.

Once you know your goals and needs, you can do your research and find the right agency that really aligns with those things. A few things to ask yourself when looking at agencies include:

  • Consider what skill sets you’ll specifically need – do you need copywriters, designers, developers?
  • Don’t judge a company based on how pretty their portfolio is.
  • Have an understanding of your own timeline and budget to help you in the negotiation process with potential agencies

8. Having Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Deciding on who should be involved in your website redesign, and at what stages, plays a major role in keeping your project on track.

It’s important to include key decision makers such as members of the marketing team or a high-level executive in the C-suite, however, including too many people or the wrong people can lead to a mashup of design opinions and personal preferences. This inevitably will lead to major delays.

For example, utilizing a small team of diverse members from different departments instead of involving the entire company during the design phase will ensure the site is being built with the end user in mind and not personal preference.

Who should be involved in a web design process?

During a redesign project, it’s important to appoint one person who has ultimate approval power during the entire process (such as a CEO).

Avoid any type of “committee” in which more than one person has these responsibilities. Having more than one person with this power usually leads to more conflict and delays.

Additionally, you’ll also want to put together a dedicated team that will work alongside the agency to provide instant feedback throughout the process.

Your team should about 5-7 people and include individuals from different departments (i.e. client-facing roles, marketing team members and C-suite executives.) Doing this will help you ensure that you are considering all the needs of your business, and not overlooking anything.

Wrapping Things Up

While you can’t always follow every recipe by the book, knowing some of the major mistakes to avoid can save a lot of time and headaches down the road.

The biggest takeaway from these mistakes is to make sure you’re doing the proper planning before diving into a website redesign.

Make sure the goals of your new site are clear, involve the right people, and let the data be your roadmap for the project.