Last Update: July 6, 2015
Does your company website need a fresh start? If you decide to launch a new product, develop a new brand identity, or notice that your website still says “© 2008″ in the footer – it may be time to redesign your website.
Unfortunately, many small business owners believe that a website redesign is an incredibly painful process. They assume it is worth going to great lengths to avoid, since you have to either: a) pay a web design agency big bucks or b) gather a team of freelance designers and developers and manage the process.
If you are concerned with the latter, you have to trust that one of those people knows how to communicate in your native language and that they’ve actually done the work you viewed in their portfolio.
Stress-Free Website Redesign Tips
Whether you hire a web design agency or freelancers, first ensure that they are organized, willing to hit deadlines, and offer flexible payment terms. The truth is: a website redesign doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. Here are seven tips to help you get started:
Prepare in advance.
Before calling in a professional, you’ve got to prepare on your own. Remember that you have the money and are paying someone for their services. As business owners, we tend to forget that we are paying for a service, and if you hire the right people, their services should be delivered to your liking. Next, do yourself a huge favor and write out what doesn’t work (i.e. specifically what you want to change, your goals and pie-in-the-sky ideas). Find some examples of websites and design styles you love. I recommend searching Awwwards, Sortfolio, Web Creme, and even a good-old Google search: “websites with great design.”
Allocate a website redesign budget.
Once you’ve completed your prep work, then you can develop your budget. Can you afford a big web design and development agency to step in and crank out a new website for $25,000-$100,000? Do you want to find freelance workers to develop a website for $7,500-$15,000 ? Or are you looking at $5,000 and under? Set a price range and stick with it. Bandwidth is also another important thing to remember. Web designers and developers have other clients and timelines to manage, so you need to plan in advance — not one month before launch.
Choose a web designer/developer.
Decide whether you’d like to work with an agency or a freelancer. If you’re a young entrepreneur, like me, I’d caution you to have an existing relationship before knocking on a big agency’s doors.
I am not throwing large web design agencies under the bus, but being an inexperienced website owner with money to burn and approaching agencies is like covering yourself in rib-eye steaks and jumping in a tank full of sharks! Instead, ask your contacts to recommend freelancers or agencies, review their portfolios and clearly outline your goals.
Generally, the right web design agency or freelancer will guide you in the right direction without taking a single penny. Why? Because they have a reputation to uphold and have no interest developing dissatisfied customer relationships. They will tell you whether or not what you’re asking is realistic and if they have the bandwidth to take you on as a client.
Pick a project management platform.
Now that you have selected a web design agency or freelancer, what project management platform are you using? Please, don’t say “email”. Nothing will kill a website design project faster than trying to manage everything through email. Cloud-based apps like Basecamp, Podio and Smartsheet are affordable options that can help keep your revision requests and timelines organized
Agree on payment terms.
It’s customary for each web design agency to have their own payment terms, but generally expect to pay 50 percent upfront and 50 percent upon completion. Some web design agencies may require a monthly retainer, and some freelancers may prefer to work an hourly basis (e.g. ensure they share estimated hours to complete your project and share hourly tracking).
Most importantly, don’t get duped — never pay for web design services 100 percent upfront. Also, if you plan to switch web hosting providers, find out what type of support is offered if something breaks, and if this it is included in the cost. The last thing you want is a bill, a month after your new website launches, for $1,000 in web hosting and maintenance.
Think of your target audience.
Before redesigning your company website don’t forget to be respectful to your current customer base, fans and readers. Even if you don’t have much web traffic, there are people coming to your site daily, so keep them in the loop about what’s going on with a custom landing page. Even more so, position the redesign as a marketing opportunity. Tell your email subscribers how excited you are for your upcoming re-launch. Share teaser news with your Twitter and Facebook fans. You’re not only spending money on your company website, but essentially you can leverage it to support marketing efforts.
Expect the unexpected.
Deadlines will be pushed back and technical errors will occur (i.e. “Why does my domain not forward to the new DNS? Also, what the heck does that mean?”) Be prepared for technical glitches to happen and understand that it is par for the course. As long as you’re ready to tackle a few bumps in the web redesign road and you’ve given yourself a realistic deadline, your website re-launch shouldn’t give you too many gray hairs and can provide a nice spark for your business!
Jason Sadler, Official T-Shirt Wearer at IWearYourShirt, hasn’t always been wearing T-shirts for a living, but has always been creative. Fox Business has called him the “Entrepreneur of the Century.” Connect with Jason on Twitter.
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