So you’re ready for a website redesign. The budget is approved, you’ve hired a digital marketing agency and you’re set to go. Great! It can be a daunting undertaking, but if you have a solid plan in place, you may find yourself enjoying the process. (Really!) There are a number of factors that will help smooth the road to launching that highly effective online marketing tool – your new website.
1. Define the team: Once you have hired your digital marketing team, establish an internal team to work with them. Limit the number of people on that internal team as much as possible. “Design by committee” gets very difficult to manage. Designate one qualified person as the project manager and single point of contact for the digital marketing team.
2. Define the strategy: Why do you need a new site? Your team should have a shared understanding of the answer, and it should not be “it seems like what we’re supposed to do.” Why? Make a list of what you want out of the new site. How will it help your business? (Going responsive needs to be on that list!) At the end of that process, you will understand why you are redoing your website.
3. Audit your existing site: Be brutal. Determine what pieces are working and can be used in the new site, and what gets ditched. (Since your site is being redesigned, it’s helpful to not be too attached to anything on it currently.)
4. Protect your SEO! This is critical: You must understand the SEO ramifications of launching a new site, or else you risk significantly damaging the organic traffic and search engine rankings you have built up. This piece from Search Engine Journal offers a detailed explanation; following are some basics:
- Create an inventory of all of the URLs on your existing site (don’t forget subdomains) and inform search engines of where those links have moved.
- Analyze inbound links, so you know what is linking to you and where they are coming from. Be sure to migrate those pages as needed.
- Use 301 redirects when pointing old URLs to new ones.
5. Plan your launch: What is your target launch date? (Choose a day and time that will be least disruptive to your users, just in case any hiccups occur during launch.) How will you announce the launch to your audience? Put social media and email marketing plans in place to announce your exciting news! And don’t forget to celebrate with your team – pop some champagne, take everyone to lunch, do something fun together. Launching a new site is a huge accomplishment and deserves recognition.
Do you have other ideas for keeping a website redesign project running smoothly? Share your experiences in the comments!
This post originally appeared in March 2015. It has been updated to reflect the most recent information.