Are you feeling that buzz yet?
As you get closer to kicking off your new website design project, you’ll feel the energy start to accumulate. Frustration with your existing website might have driven you to this point in your planning, but the closer you get, the more thrilling things are going to become. Along with all the excitement and potential, there’s probably more than a little uncertainty.
- Are we approaching this correctly?
- What do I not know?
- What if we drop the reins on this thing?
A website design project is equal parts exhilaration and trepidation. After all, with the prospect of reward comes risk. For those of us who aren’t website designers (and plenty of us who are), conflicting reactions are natural and warranted. The important thing is that we get past the nervousness and tap into the potential and promise that got us into the project in the first place.
Approach your website project from a position of power.
The good news is, the pitfalls in the modern website design process have become pretty predictable. There are plenty of easy steps that you and your team can take to set a trajectory for success. By taking stock of the road ahead and navigating proactively, it’s possible for business owners all over the tech-savviness spectrum to enjoy easy, breezy, smooth, and streamlined design projects.
A Blend of Expectation and Preparation
To transform your next website design experience, we recommend taking these six steps before you get off to the races. Some are best achieved before you even start working with a design team, while others should be completed collaboratively. Each will contribute to laying the foundation for an efficient project that’s enjoyable for everyone involved.
1) Gather your brand standards.
Even if refreshing the representation of your brand is part of the plan, the materials that have come before will be vital to your design team. Your existing website, promotional items, tradeshow graphics, and other marketing materials will provide the basis for consistency, continuity, and coherence across your branded assets. At the same time, they’ll also eliminate uncertainty and prevent unnecessary work.
2) Pillage and plunder your content resources.
You probably have a lot more content to draw on than you realize and there is a lot of value to gain from your existing content. Leverage those resources to ward off threats like scope creep and writer’s block.
Ok, don't literally rob anyone or anywhere for content. We don't want your project to end before it actually starts.
Since the structural organization and content planning come early in the website design process – and since they play a huge role in the strategic effectiveness of your new site – preparing your team with regard to content has the potential to save time, money, and frustration.
Plus, the content specialist working on your new website will appreciate having a wealth of material to draw on.
Collect your existing content before the project starts, determine what’s relevant, and eliminate anything that could confuse your creative team.
3) Recruit your team.
Obtaining sign-offs won’t be sufficient. The modern website design process is collaborative, so anyone assigned to an active role in your project must make the commitment to contribute. Nothing stalls a timeline like unavailable stakeholders, so before putting names to functions, get real about who has the availability and capacity to keep the project moving. You might Identify the need to shift some of your organization’s assets, but if you do, achieving a positive outcome will depend on your making the investment. Enlisting individuals who are enthusiastic about and invested in the forthcoming project will make the process even smoother.
4) Solidify the scope.
You have an opportunity make sure your budget allocation matches your company’s priorities, so don’t skimp when clarifying scope! The first step toward accurate scoping is to get on the same page internally about the goals and required functions of the new website. What’s most important to the bottom line? Are we being distracted by any shiny objects? Does anyone anticipate any assumptions that need to be drawn out into the open?
The second step is to work with your design team on transforming your internally conceived vision into a measurable, executable project with clearly outlined deliverables and a shared definition of success. Draw on the expertise of both teams to settle discrepancies and resolve outstanding questions. What’s included? What have we neglected to discuss? Do any of the deliverables have the potential to impact the budget or timeline later in the project?
5) Agree to a timeline.
Not to be confused with dictating the timeline. Your scope conversation lays out the ground to be covered by your project. Only with an agreed-upon scope can you move on to plotting a realistic timeline based on milestones and touchpoints -- a turn-by-turn roadmap to the systematic execution of that scope.
If you have a pressing deadline and find you’ve delayed too long in starting your project, turn your conversation to whether additional resources could be devoted, objectives eliminated or if you could use a phased approach. Don’t force specialists to compromise their proven systems in the interest of cramming. Doing so will threaten the quality and integrity of your project.
Like any other journey, even the most proactively planned website design project involves variables. There are sure to be revisions, technical concerns, and tweaks to the execution as website elements materialize. For this reason, it’s important to plan a buffer into your timeline. By allocating 20% more time than is estimated (by those directly involved in executing the milestones) to be required, you’ll build flexibility into your project from the outset. This will simplify communications and neutralize surprises, most of which tend to be inconsequential but would nonetheless prove disruptive to a timeline not designed to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.
By allocating 20% more time than is estimated (by those directly involved in executing the milestones) to be required, you’ll build flexibility into your project from the outset.
6) Trust the process.
Executing a website design process requires creative thinking, thoughtful communication, and more than a little patience. As a client, your goal should be to facilitate the process rather than impeding it. The best way to make that happen – aside from the steps outlined here – is to find a website design team that you trust and with which you feel comfortable. Take the time to shop around, and be sure to ask as many questions as you need to make an informed decision. Once you’ve committed, bring your preparation and enthusiasm to the table, and listen for additional ways to contribute. If you remain engaged, provide detailed feedback, and turn deliverables around quickly, you’ll empower your creative team to do their best work.
Ready to dig deeper?
For even more insight into the modern website design process, download the comprehensive Website Design Project Guide created by Knowmad Digital Marketing. It will prepare you to run your website design project like a pro and avoid the most common pitfalls in the web design process.
Diona is a managing partner at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.