Visually pleasing, descriptive, and easily digestible with clear yet engaging navigation - your website needs to encompass all of these features. After all, your website is your firm in the online world. Often it is the first interaction potential clients have with your firm. With short attention spans and constant competition for consumers’ attention, your firm website must provide a positive and seamless user experience. In this 3 part blog series, we will cover useful tips and insight on navigating a website redesign (or refresh) project from beginning to end, and then some. Part 1 takes a look at the initial steps of website redesign and provides tips on how to jump start your project.
Channel your inner five year old and ask “Why?” Though this may seem like an obvious first step, it is often overlooked and rushed when embarking on an exciting project. Know the “why” before you delve deeper to ensure that you fully grasp the scope of your project and stay on track with your goals. We discovered our need for a new website because in the three years since our last major overhaul, consumer search habits had shifted dramatically to the use of mobile devices and tablets. We needed a responsive site to make it easy for consumers to navigate our website with whatever device they were using. Other reasons to redesign or refresh your website may include dated design, functions that have lost usefulness, outdated messaging or branding, and change in customer needs.
Define Your Scope
Is this a refresh or a rebrand? These are two different things. In a refresh, “companies typically keep the logo, shift the look.” A brand refresh include updates that “add messaging and update colors, expand the design system (colors, infographic, etc.), and update and retain a visual connection.”  On the other hand, a rebrand is a “complete redesign” which can include a new logo, messaging, marketing program, etc. To determine which path your company should take, think about how the new website will affect other marketing materials and branding. Talk to your marketing team, developers, tech team, and management to determine the scope of your website project (refresh or rebrand).
Website analytics provide valuable market and business insight into your consumer’s experience.
- What are the most popular webpages?
- Who is visiting your site?
- How are they finding you?
- How long do they spend on your site?
- How do they navigate it?
The answers to these questions have a huge impact on your website design approach. They provide insight on how best to tailor your website to potential clients, current clients, vendors, colleagues, etc. For example, make sure that the most visited pages offer a seamless customer experience and also think of creative ways to make your less visited pages more inviting. In addition, use your analytics as a starting point for reviewing and selecting strategic keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. Keywords play a vital role in increasing your website rank in search engine results (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and in turn drive targeted traffic to your website.
Do Your Research
Pay close attention to the websites you visit. Look beyond the legal field and explore how different companies and industries communicate their services online. Write down the website URLs and take detailed notes of features you like and don’t like, such as design, colors, functionality, size, transitions, etc. After looking at site after site, your brain may feel like mush. Websites begin to bleed together and you may not remember the site when you try to refer back to it later. Also as an added bonus, it is much easier to send a link of the website and show the actual feature than to try to describe it to your team or web developer later on.
Select a Diverse Team
It is simple. A diverse team achieves better results. Why, you ask? (Channeling your inner five year old). Each person is unique and has a different perspective, different point of view, and different background. Your website visitors are equally varied. Having a diverse team, including your website design/developer team, work on the project from beginning to end gives you greater insight into how different people will approach, navigate, and digest your website. Thousands of people will be visiting your site. While you cannot satisfy everyone’s wants and needs, you will be much closer.
Create a Realistic Budget and Timeline
One of the most important things to do before embarking on your redesign journey is to be realistic about your budget and timeline. A well designed and well thought out website takes time. Think of it like doing construction on your house. In a perfect world, the timeline would be six weeks, but it rained four days, the appliances ship-date was delayed, and your contractor got sick. Life happens and that is why it is essential that your budget and timeline have extra funds and time built-in. Also, an important thing to keep in mind is that you and your team are not web developers. Something that may seem like a quick and easy universal change may actually take several behind-the-scenes development hours (i.e. budget & timeline).
Stay Tuned: Next week, in Part 2 of this series, we cover things to consider while diving into your website redesign project.
 Company, Inc. Creative. "Rebrand? Brand Refresh or Redesign?" Creative Company. Creative Company, n.d. Web. 24 July 2017.