It is exciting to embark on a website redesign project, but jumping into the project without any planning can lead to confusion, frustration and cause the project to go off-track. Such delays would not only be expensive in terms of money, but deadlines could slip.

Planning and preparing for your project will give your project a high chance of successful completion.

The following are 10 important points to keep in mind:

1. Know the 3 Ws for your website: Why, Whom, When

Many businesses begin their website project without knowing why they want it. Knowing the purpose of your website will make the design process easy and increase the chances of you being satisfied with the end result. It will also help you evaluate if the project is successful.

It is important to keep in mind your primary target when building the website. Knowing your primary audience enables the designers to build a website that is appropriate for that audience. If you own a farm, then the website should not look like a corporate website!

Timing is another important aspect to keep in mind while designing a website. If it is a tight deadline, then either the cost of the project should increase or the project should be divided into different phases. Not knowing the timeline can create assumptions on both sides which can adversely affect the successful and satisfactory completion of the project.

2. Decide how you will judge the successful outcome of this project.

When the website is built, you need to be able to tell if it satisfies your goal(s) for the project. Too often people define the success of a website by how ‘pretty’ it looks. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but success is defined by metrics.

Know what you want out of the project and have the designer show you how they have achieved your goals with their design.

Decide how you will judge the outcome of the project. Don’t leave it to subjective whims.

Here are some specific ways you can judge your website:

  • Does the website include all the information that you want online?
  • If you wanted a search engine optimized website, how does the website achieve that?
  • Is the website responsive?
  • Does the website make it easy for you to edit certain areas of the website in-house?
  • Was the website completed on time and within budget?

Figure out the goals of your website and check the outcome against those attributes.

3. Hire the right person/agency.

Depending on the type of website, many different talents are needed to see it to a successful completion.

All too often, people think that you only need a designer. You will also need a developer who turns designs into a working website, a marketer who turns your business goals into marketing text, a content writer to write or edit your textual content, a QA person to ensure the website is working according to its specifications and finally a great project manager who communicates your needs to his/her team and ensures the successful completion of the project.

Meet with the agency to discuss your project. One way to evaluate an agency is by asking them to describe similar projects that they have completed.

Ask questions. Check out their projects. Find out their availability and if they can deliver by your deadline.

It is sometimes easy to pick an agency based on only the price. Do not hire the cheapest. In the long run, you may ironically end up paying more.

4. Let your hired agency lead the project.

All too often business people think that they have to lead the project. That is tantamount to a tail wagging the dog.

You have hired your agency to get the job done. Let the project manager from the agency lead the project. They know the roadmap to building your website.

5. Allocate time for this project.

You, as the business person, are an integral part of this project. There will be times when your approval is needed or the designer expects content (textual or images or videos) from you. If this delivery is delayed, then the project could slip its deadline.

You can’t expect the project to be on time, if you don’t do your part. You as the business person are responsible for signing off, approving, and delivering content.

Remember that if you don’t deliver either content or approvals on time, your agency can’t move forward.

Do your part and be responsive to your agency’s requests.

6. Appoint a point person in your team.

Pick a person in your team to be responsible for all communications with the agency.

This will ensure a streamlined communication that minimizes miscommunication and confusions. This will also help build consensus within your team before relaying it to the agency.

7. Focus on the guts, not glamor.

It is very easy to be swayed by beautiful images or videos. Though that is important, it is more important that the website functions as desired, loads fast, content is appropriately written, the website is user-friendly, navigation is intuitive and the list goes on.

So instead of focussing on how pretty the website is, turn your attention to its effectiveness. The agency should be able to communicate their choice of design elements and how it helps to further your website goals.

8. Plan for maintenance.

Websites degrade over time. Sad, but true.

At a minimum, the underlying software should be updated every 4 months. Not doing this would mean that you are letting the foundation of your website crumble over time making you vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Businesses evolve over time. The website should reflect your changing priorities. Make a point of evaluating the website every 4 months or so to ensure that it is fully aligned with your business priorities.

9. Use a contract

Contracts are important legal documents that define the work that will be performed.

They can be detailed or be just an outline. The more detailed they are, the better the understanding between the 2 parties.

Verbal commitments can be filled with assumptions on both sides and lead to misunderstandings.

A good contract should clearly describe all the work that will be performed, the timeline, the cost and how the payment will be made.

It is also important to include what is NOT included in the contract. For example, designers routinely buy images on behalf of the client. It is important that the contract specifies who pays for these images.

10. Pay on time.

Last, but certainly not the least, remember to pay on time. Treat your designer the way you would like to be treated by your clients. If you can’t pay on time for some reason, be open with the designer.

With prior planning and preparation, you can put the project on a path to success.