If you're anything like me, you'd just like to have a little bit of a heads-up for certain things, especially if this "thing" is large and important. It'd just be nice to know, at least mentally, what you're committing to before you say yes, am I right? Well, hopefully this is this is the heads-up you need for your website redesign project.
Undertaking a website redesign is a very involved project with many moving parts that requires a strong team effort between you, your team and your agency. After managing over 20+ large website redesign projects, I've had the opportunity to work on projects of many different “flavors."
One of the biggest project pitfalls I've encountered is a general misunderstanding of the time commitment required to thoroughly redesign a large to mid sized corporate website. For an agency team like Venveo, this task doesn't seem so monumental or overwhelming because, well, it's our full-time job. But for our clients, projects like these often add upwards of 10 + hours per week to their current job responsibilities due to brainstorm sessions, check in meetings, content creation, design reviews, etc.
With the time and cost that gets invested in this type of project, I thought it might be helpful to spec out a few key things you can expect from a website redesign project.
There can be any number of reasons why you and your company would take on a website redesign project. Here's a few common ones we see:
- The purpose of the website has changed
- The positioning of the company has changed
- It's not easy to manage or update
- Overall, the look, feel and function is dated
- It's not responsive
- It's basically a complete mess
Regardless of the reason, you should expect a partnership level of relationship from your digital agency or website vendor. They should become an extension of your team, and should work alongside you to accomplish your website goals.
Trust will become the most important part of this partnership because you will, no doubt, be entering into territory that you are unfamiliar with, and will need to lean on the expertise of your agency to guide you through the process. When you are hiring a digital agency, make sure you trust them.
Here's a few things to consider in your agency hiring process:
- Do they understand the business objectives and site goals you've presented?
- Do their recommendations match up with these objectives and goals?
- Will they provide you with client references?
- Did they display an understanding of your industry?
- Did they just regurgitate back to you what was already documented in your RFP? Or did they give you some valuable insight?
- Are they just executors? or can they provide you with the thinking and problem solving required to accomplish your project needs?
- Can their team handle the scope of your project?
- What level of experience do they have successfully launching projects like yours?
Commit your time that is! So, how long are we talking here? To figure out your overall timetable, you'll want to first decide if your website is going to be responsive or not. If your site is going to be responsive, it can take anywhere from 30-50% more time to design and build.
On average, our website projects (which are typically responsive) take 6 - 12 months in length.
In addition to the overall time table, I often tell clients they average out at about 10+ hours per week working on the website project. Some weeks will be more, and some will be less. If you have a good digital project manager, she will help remind you in the beginning of (and throughout) the project what phases will require more of your time and feedback.
Here's a quick breakdown of where this 10+ hours per week goes:
- 1 - 2 hours weekly meetings for length of project
- 1 - 2 hours in key meetings or deliverable reviews at various times throughout project
- 1 - 2 hours of your own internal meetings every few weeks
- 1 - 2 hours responding to questions from Digital Team regularly throughout the project
- 2 - 3 hours reviewing designs and providing approvals during design phase
- 2 - 3 hours reviewing content or possibly writing content throughout the project (if you're the key project point on your side and responsible for writing content we have a problem)
- 2 - 3 hours uploading content and checking your beta site towards end of the project
Throughout your website project, decision making will be required to move the project forward. Often times, the website is like the heart of your company, and when it's time to change, all your deep (dark) secrets and desires start to come out! This type of change requires buy in from the top! You and your agency will need to work together to bring in key project stakeholders at the right stages of the project to ensure that key decision makers have been properly informed and have bought into the “change of heart". (you see what I did there, huh!?)
Because you are changing your website, you'll be faced with questions about what you want to say, who you want to say it to and how it should be said. All these questions will get translated into the visual look, feel and flow of your website. Usually, these core business questions require decision makers to make some decisions about what they want the world wide web to see. Sometimes, this can cause a project to take longer. If your agency has stirred up an internal pain point, don't be scared or mad. It means they're asking the right question. No one wants to spend time and money to just “throw something up there." Let them see you through the process. You can all hug and cry it out on the other side.
You'll get to learn all kinds of things when you work on a website project.
You'll certainly learn how websites are built from start to finish as you're learning about the process your agency uses to redesign and launch your new website.
You'll most likely learn how to use some type of project management software (we use Basecamp).
You might become rather familiar with video conferencing if your agency isn't local to you. (I like to get my clients hooked on Google Hangouts.)
Like most digital agencies, we love tools! We'll try not to overwhelm you, but we're constantly working on improving our processes and finding tools that help us collaborate better with our clients. If you're overloaded with the process, the workload, the tools, let your project manager know. They are there as your project relief and life raft. They keep you and the project afloat!
On that note, you'll probably learn how to be wrangled! We understand that you are working on this project in addition to your current job tasks, and responsibilities and we are always respectful of that, but we also need to keep your project moving. So you'll start to see little notes, funny gifs and reminders to help keep you, your team and the project on track. If your project manager is a good one, she'll begin to learn, without you telling her (but full disclosure is always appreciated) how you like to receive updates, what form of information sharing works best for you, if you prefer a quick call over an email, or vice versa, etc. Trust her as she leads you through….the light. No! I'm just kidding.
But we're back to trust. You'll no doubt learn to trust the digital team you're working with. They are your advocate, and they take success very seriously. The unknown can be scary, so having an agency partner you trust will be critical to your project.
There are companies out there that will quote you a couple G's to redesign your website, but beware: you will get what you pay for! If you just want a quick facelift, then you can probably get away with paying in the low 4 - 5 figures and working with a freelancer versus an agency might be a better route for you.
When you work with an agency you're paying for their expertise, their skill set and their experience. Agencies can also handle solving complex business problems, positioning to multiple audiences and implementing larger more complex websites that have lots of unique functionality. Have you heard of the good, fast cheap theory? You can have 2 of the 3, but you can never have all three at once. Good, Fast & Cheap does not exisit.
What you want to really think about when it comes down to dollar signs is scope and need.
Here's a few things to help you get a handle on the scope of your website redesign project
- Are you looking for your website to match the caliber of your organization in look, flow, content and functionality?
- Or do you just need it to come out of the 90s?
- Will the site need to be responsive?
- Will you need to have a content management system (CMS)? (we almost never build sites without a CMS)
- Does your site have some type of specific functionality requirements? Like e-commerce? an event scheduler? etc
- Are you okay with a template based site design or do you want a custom look and feel that's unique to your brand?
- Are you ready to address your content and give it thought and definition?
- Or do you just want to keep everything as is?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the timetable, price tag and type of agency you'll need to work with. Another thing to note about pricing is hourly vs project based pricing. Some agencies scope out projects by the hour and provide you with a billable rate, while others offer project based or value based pricing so you get a set price for the entire project and hours worked are never a consideration.
After being a digital project manager for 5 years, I've learned that being a client can be really hard. Even though I'm immersed in the ever-changing, multi-device, newest technologies web world, it can get overwhelming for me. So for my clients who have this website redesign project added to their existing 9-5 day, it can really get overwhelming. Venveo, and other good agencies out there, are constantly investing in redefining and redeveloping our process for you - Our clients - because we don't want this process to be a burden. We want you to get as excited as we do. Bare with us. Speak up and give us your feedback. We don't fear the change.