DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SERIES
It’s time to execute your large-scale website redesign project … now what? Read on for some important time-tested strategies for navigating potential pitfalls as you head into the Design & Build phase.
Before you begin, make sure you’ve already read:
Part 1 — Introduction to Enterprise Website Redesign
Part 2 — Planning, Brand Alignment & Research: The Starting Points for Successful Enterprise Website Redesign
Revisiting our four-part approach to enterprise redesign, you’re now at Phase 3 — Design & Build — the point “where the rubber hits the road,” as they say. While each large-scale project we undertake is wildly different from the next, there are some commonalities in terms of strategies for success that we feel are worthy of passing along to you. Caveat: This post is not intended to be an all-encompassing look at the Design & Build phase, but rather a compilation of some high-level helpful tips.
Design & Build
WHAT IT INCLUDES:
✓ General requirements gathering
✓ Technical requirements gathering
✓ Wireframes/UX design
✓ Visual/UI design
✓ CMS configuration
✓ Integrations & third-party systems
✓ QA testing
✓ CMS rollout & training
✓ Deployment & redirects
✓ Content migration planning
✓ Content migration: automated
✓ Content migration: manual
By the time design begins for your new enterprise site, you should already have a strong sense of where it is headed.
The design process should be fun, collaborative, creative — and directly informed by the work that has come before this phase. Many redesign projects get sidelined once it begins to look “real” because some of the necessary steps to get to that point weren’t taken into consideration.
The good news? All of the pre-work frees you up to think about colors, typography, and brand visuals — because you’re already confident that the site is shaping into a tool that’s going to be useful and productive for you. With your content strategy established, you move into the wireframing process with a strong foundation for your page components: hero images, calls to action, FAQs, testimonials, and more. The earlier work informs how these components will be used to create intentional user journeys, with the wireframes now representing actual pages and content structure.
Tip #1: Follow a Content-First Model
Avoid the “endless redesign” by crafting the site around your content.
Some of you may remember the old-school web design process: Start with visual design, agree on the design, move into development, and then later try to backfill your content into the design without ruining it. This process usually resulted in an endless cycle of “needing a redesign” because the site never really met its initial goal.
Today, web professionals understand that content needs to inform structure, with the design layered on top of that framework. For that reason, our projects include a deliverable called “content prescriptions,” which are detailed outlines of content for key pages and conversion points. They serve as an instruction set for copywriters, define which assets (images, videos, and more) will need to be created, and set the content entry process up so that copy and assets flow into the page templates seamlessly — because they were designed that way from the outset.
Should you create your own content?
“No one knows us like we know ourselves, so we’re going to write all the copy” is a statement we hear fairly frequently. And while it’s almost certainly true that your team knows your organization best, consider by analogy the relationship between you and your doctor. You certainly know your body best — its various quirks and nuances — but you trust your doctor to apply a layer of objective expertise on top of that knowledge. You provide information about your symptoms, and your doctor crafts a treatment plan.
The same is true for content creation: You know yourselves best, but relevant information can be relayed to a team of experts who craft the content strategy and the content itself. If you have an SEO specialist and a UX copywriter on staff who are ready to collaborate on your project, then you’re probably well set up to create your own content. Otherwise, you should lean on the agency to create content and make sure you’re included in a robust feedback and revision loop. This is especially true if internal team members have to find time to create content on top of their existing full-time responsibilities.
Tip #2: Understand How Users Need to Navigate Your Complex Site in Order to Find What They Came For
Choose a menu that matches your content needs — and user expectations.
When it comes to organizing hundreds — or sometimes even thousands — of pages of content into a coherent navigation structure, there are some complex UX issues to consider. This conversation warrants its own separate discussion, which you can find in our blog post, The Complete Guide to Large Website Menu Design.
Tip #3: Don’t Wait on Search Engine Optimization
Infuse SEO into the content process from the outset.
SEO is about more than just including keywords in your content — although keywords are still a relevant part of the picture. Today, Google and other search engines want to ensure that your content demonstrates E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust), and that the experience users have on your site is optimized from end to end.
That means that your SEO strategy has to be built into the content strategy from day one, informed by search patterns and search intent that can be extracted from various SEO tools and analytics. You’ll also need to ensure that the technical buildout of the site is accounting for performance metrics like Google Core Vitals.
How Eastern Standard Can Help
Enterprise website redesign projects are massive undertakings that take a significant level of expertise to manage effectively. If you need help better understanding any of the concepts presented here, or would like to discuss the specific needs of your own organization, please reach out to start a conversation today.
Next up — in Part 4 of our Digital Transformation Series — we’ll discuss the final stages of your enterprise redesign project: Launch & Beyond. We’ll cover important long-term considerations and outline measures you can put in place now to ensure that your site grows and scales smartly into the future.
Don’t Miss the Rest of the Digital Transformation Series
Part 1: Introduction to Enterprise Website Redesign
Part 2: Planning, Brand Alignment & Research: The Starting Points for Successful Enterprise Website Redesign
Part 4: Enterprise Website Redesign: Strategies for Launch, Tracking & Ongoing Measurement