It’s finally time to redesign your website. You’re thrilled. Your stakeholders are on board and you know that in the somewhat near future, you’ll have a shiny new website to drive you toward your goals. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Before you kick off the process with a web design and development agency, you have some housekeeping to do. It’s worth it. If you do your due diligence before the web development process, the entire production will run more smoothly. You’ll be much happier with the end result.
Let’s get started.
Ask yourself the following questions about your existing website content:
- When was this content last updated?
- Is this content up to date and correct?
- Is content duplicated or overly wordy?
- Does the current content include clear calls to action?
- Is copy broken up with clear headers?
- What different types of content (product descriptions, blog posts, staff bios, forms, videos, case studies, etc.) exist on the site?
- Be honest. Do you like your content?
Develop an understanding of how much content you have.
It helps immensely to know the breadth of existing content. A sitemap can serve as a high level look. How many pages are there? How are these pages structured? An understanding of the bigger picture helps to drive the scope of a web project.
When you look at the big picture, you’ll find some fantastic jumping off points for what needs to be improved from a search engine optimization perspective, and from a user experience perspective. You’ll also feel more confident communicating with your agency’s production team.
As you review your existing site, you may realize you’re low on certain types of content or topics. Bring these concerns to your web development agency. This will help drive new features and the development of new content pieces to support your goals.
(You do have specific goals in mind, right?)
Familiarity with your own site will empower you to collaborate with your agency’s content team. It will give you a higher comfort level when the agency’s team makes recommendations. Total win-win.
Don’t be afraid to ask your web development agency for help with a content audit. If they’re not reviewing your content very early in the web redesign process, consider that a red flag.
Assign content owners and experts within your organization.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a one person show or a huge company. Each type of content on your site needs an owner within the organization. Sometimes this is really easy to designate. If you’re a real estate agent and you personally write up descriptions of area neighborhoods, you’re the content owner.
If you’re a large dermatology practice and you have an in-house expert on skin cancer, that individual will be the content owner. They’ll contribute when it comes to pages about cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Sometimes assigning content ownership can be a little squirrely. Maybe the person who originally wrote copy is no longer with your organization. Maybe you hired a contractor years ago and no one remembers how the content was created.
All of this is okay. Step back and assign someone to be the point of contact with your agency’s content team. Divvy these responsibilities up (for example, someone on staff bios, someone on photos) if you have a large amount of content.
Why do you need to assign ownership?
When you kick off a web redesign project, your agency will come to you with recommendations to revise and update your content. You need to know from the very start who’s responsible for coordinating with your agency’s team and providing approvals on the content they develop and revise. You need to know who has strength and expertise. You need to know who remembers which hard drive has all those great videos you paid for last year.
You get the picture.
Don’t kick off a project without taking the time to complete these steps. Come to the table organized and you’ll contribute to the project running smoothly and on time.