I've grown up in a marketing profession where 12-to-18-month website redesign projects were the norm. In fact I've endured more web redesign and replatforming projects than I care to count. Every one of them was an excruciating process involving many late nights, burned out teams, missed timelines—and yes, now gray hairs. Requirements documents took months to finalize, while wireframes and design mockups took even longer. And after all of that we’d finally get started on the actual project...about five months later.
If you're like me and have also suffered through year-long site launches or overhauls, you’ve been conditioned (read: brainwashed) to believe that this is just how it is. You know to expect nothing less than a long, difficult, costly, grueling project. But I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be like that anymore.
Times have changed. The modern platforms available today can actually expedite projects from a 12-month (or more) process, to a 12-week process. It’s now possible to launch or relaunch a personalized, world-class experience faster and more easily than ever without draining your budget, team, and timeline. To help set you up for success, our resident experts—Chief Delivery Officer David Habib and VP of Product Meredith Rodkey—shared their "Top 5" best practices for avoiding a nightmare-ish redesign project in our most recent webinar. An overview of their tips and tricks can be found below.
5 ways to avoid a lengthy web redesign
Once you’ve decided you need to upgrade to a new CMS, the first thing you'll want to do is assure your team that the project won’t take several years off their lives and result in needless cycles of work and rework. How? The answer is to have a plan, assemble the right team, commit to the process, acknowledge that change is hard, and pick the right partner.
Web redesign tip 1: Have a plan
First things first. Have a plan! This might sound silly or obvious, but many people come to us without a plan or project scope, and without knowing what “done” looks like. Before you do anything else, you need to make sure you’ve mapped out:
- Your basic requirements. What do you need/want to accomplish?
- The prioritization of those requirements. What matters the most vs. which areas have more wiggle room?
- Anticipated resources and costs. What is your estimated budget?
- Your expected output and results. What does the finish line look like for this project?
Once you’ve completed your scope and requirements prioritization, it’s important to get buy-in from all stakeholders before embarking on the project. This way, everyone who needs to be aligned on priorities and the business/financial commitment can get on the same page before you start.
Web redesign tip 2: Assemble the right team
Another way to avoid a lengthy redesign process is to assemble a core redesign team. It’s important to enlist the right internal team to oversee and be a part of your project. This team should represent a cross-section of your entire company, or at least represent the parts of your organization that will be working within the CMS on a regular basis. Consider including representatives from:
- Editorial and Content
While it’s important to include deciders—those with the final say on business decisions—make sure to enlist those who will be actively using the CMS on a regular basis. Whether laying out your requirements or assessing new platforms, including editors/publishers, in-house developers, and content creators very early on is a best practice. Creating a collaborative, communicative team is key to project success.
Web redesign tip 3: Commit to the process
Once you have the right team in place, designate a leader that will serve as the main liaison between your team and your technology partner. Leadership needs to be fully committed to the project and the project leader must be:
- Ready: prepared to go “all in” on moving to and launching a new platform.
- Responsive: ready to respond quickly to both vendor and internal questions and concerns.
- Realistic: willing to de-scope and prioritize different aspects of the project.
In our experience, the most successful customers are those who are ready, realistic, and responsible and go “all in” on the project from the outset.
Web redesign tip 4: Acknowledge that change is hard
Remember, what you’re ultimately doing is making a major change within your organization and adjusting the way people work. Maybe you’re even transforming the business from the ground up. Organizations, by nature, resist change and so you should expect some speed bumps along the way. Still, you’re getting something brand new, not an exact replica of what you had—change is what you signed up for!
But while change is scary and can be hard, it’s also a lot of fun. This is an opportunity to move past what is holding you back. It’s also a chance to reacquaint yourself with you business and its processes.
Consider what is working and what isn’t. Think about how this new solution will drive you forward and be open to new possibilities. Have fun and enjoy the ride!
Web redesign tip 5: Pick the right partner
If you're thinking about replatforming, it's important to select a technology partner who meets your specific needs—a partner who knows your business inside and out and is invested in helping you. Do the research! And request a demo. Any partner that you’re considering is going to be happy to show you all the bells and whistles included in their system.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, consider which vendor is the best fit for your requirements and culture. Keep in mind that you’ll be working with this partner for at least a couple of months. Make sure to pick a vendor you actually like doing business with. It’s not just the technology surrounding the solution, but the people behind that technology, that matter.
How Brightspot helps accelerate site launches & migrations
Over the past 18 months, we’ve taken customer feedback and market requests and turned it into the latest version of our next-generation CMS: Brightspot 4.0. With Brightspot 4.0, you have the power to launch an enterprise site in under 90 days. As a turnkey solution for high-speed deployments, Brightspot’s accelerator kits include:
- Flexible Frontend Templates
- More than 80 pre-packaged content types
- 200+ Integrations
- In-CMS Developer Tools
We call it “Start, Finish, Customize.” You get out of the gates wicked fast by starting with standard backend components and templates, finish the implementation, launch, then customize all the bells and whistles.