Manage Your Next Website Redo Like a Boss!

  • July 13, 2012
  • Fran Stephenson
  • 4 min read

Is your organization’s website redo managing you?

Has this happened to you? You decide to redo your website. You ask around, get a couple of quotes and next thing you know, you are in the middle of a project that’s going off the rails. It takes too long, you don’t know how to work with the web team who’s designing and developing the bloomin’ thing and you don’t have time in your day for all the details to get it going.

Organizations small and large have this problem.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Here are four things you can to do keep your project moving.

1. Make a detailed RFP

An RFP (Request for Proposal) outlines everything you need from the firm who will design and develop your site. The more detailed it is, the more accurate your quote will be. This helps to keep your organization on budget. First, you will want to express your organization’s mission and vision as well as goals for the re-design. Who is your target audience? If you know, it should be in the document. Do you have websites you admire for look and functionality? Put those as examples in the RFP.  Other items to add are website requirements, time frame, key players, creative direction. Tech Soup has a complete RFP library. It’s targeted to nonprofits, but is very useful in crafting one for your organization.

2. Get internal approvals first. And Always.

The biggest time suck in any web project are internal approvals.  You look at a design, give feedback to the designer, send feedback to the designer, then the boss or team changes its collective mind. This is a HUGE time waster and has the potential for driving up costs to you and to the web firm.  The best thing you can do for your web firm is secure all internal approvals first, so everything you send to them is final.

3. Appoint a Strong Project Manager

It might be a member of your team. Or it might be an independent consultant.  It should NOT be someone at the web firm.  They are already managing the design and development. A project manager organizes the flow of copy, tracks all the approvals and the job flow. She makes sure photos are sent, organizes to shoot new ones, tracks down the details to keep the project moving. Without a strong project manager, deadlines can be missed and it is easy for the project to go off the rails.

4. Spend More Time on Content than on Design.

Don’t get me wrong. I love good design. But content —  the text, photos, forms and links on your pages — are what will bring people back to your site time and time again. Strong, frequently-changed content, will make search engines happy and make your page views soar. If you are really smart, you already have a content strategy for your web presence AND you know that even though your web redesign is done, it’s truly never done. It’s a dynamic hub and should be updated as often as you can.  Daily or weekly is best, but monthly can work for smaller organizations.  It’s best to bring in your content team as you are kicking off the project, not when design is complete and you are close to launch.

So what’s the worst that can happen?  The timeline can stretch out, turning that three month project into a year-long nightmare.  The budget can overrun because of delays and in the end, no one seems happy.

On the other hand, if you combine a strong RFP and project manager, with a content strategy and a great web firm, you completely change the game.