You’ve been put in charge of leading the revamp of your organization’s website.

A website build or redesign has technical but also design and execution aspects. You’ll need to understand both elements and how they work together, for a successful end product.

Additionally, you might face the prospect of rallying stakeholders and staff towards a common vision, goal, and outcome. You might need to manage the expectations of your boss and your boss’s boss. Perhaps making sure your co-workers do their part in helping make the project a success is also critical.

In short, a web redesign is a big, daunting project with many moving parts.

Here’s the good news: with preparation and a pulse on the right data and information, it is possible to get a handle on the task and get a big picture of your organization’s needs.

Below is a list of processes and procedures you can take to prepare yourself and your organization to start your website build or redesign on a solid footing.

Your 5-Step Guide to Prepare for a Successful Website Redesign

By the end of this guide, you’ll have:

  • A framework to get a comprehensive view of your website, how it is doing, and potential improvements that can be made
  • Confidence to initiate engagement with your staff and stakeholders and define roles and goals
  • Well-defined technical and design scope and constraints
  • A budget for how much your organization is willing to invest in the project

You’ll also be well-prepared to have in-depth discussions with prospective vendors and can make better decisions about which of them will be the right one to help you execute your organization’s web redesign project.

Step 1: Conduct a Content Inventory and Site Audit

A content inventory is a list of all the content on your site. A comprehensive web content inventory lists pages, images, documents, and applications on a spreadsheet. Tools like Screaming Frog can be used to crawl your current site and download the results onto a spreadsheet where each piece of content can be assessed.

An inventory and audit will help you make decisions on:

  • Content to be removed
  • Content to be rewritten
  • New content to be created
  • Content to be relocated elsewhere on your site

Recommended resource: How to conduct a content inventory and audit

Step 2: Organize a Planning Team and Create a Project Charter

Building a website can be costly and time-consuming. In the thick of day-to-day activities, it will be easy to forget why you are doing what you are doing and lose sight of original priorities.

A project charter serves as a compass to keep the team firmly pointed at goals established at the beginning. It serves as the reference point to settle disputes, avoid “scope creep,” and judge the usefulness of ideas. It can also be used to measure progress and keep the planning team focused.

An effective project charter will include the following information:

  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • Who are your key stakeholders and decision-makers?
  • Who is in charge and accountable for the success or failure of the project?
  • Who will help with hands-on work?

Recommended resource: How to write a project charter

Step 3: Examine Analytics and Collect User Feedback

Prior to embarking on a redesign or a site build, you’ll need a baseline of data to have a grasp on how your current site is doing. Tools like Google Analytics help you see basic information such as what pages are most and least popular, how much traffic your site gets on a regular basis, and how much traffic your top priority pages are getting.

A web redesign is an excellent opportunity to do a deep dive into your analytics data to get a picture of your website’s overall health and decide if it is meeting your goals and expectations.

In addition to analytics, you will also need to get feedback from actual users of the site. These are information collected directly from website users through on-page surveys, feedback widgets, and other techniques. This information will help you understand what people think and how they feel about your website.

Together, the data from analytics and user feedback can help inform improvements, structure, and enhancements to your redesigned website.

Recommended resources: A guide to Google Analytics and A guide to obtaining user feedback

Step 4: Create a Written Scope for Your Project

An effective scoping document clearly and succinctly communicates your needs to prospective vendors.

The document should start with some information about your organization and your overall goals and objectives for the redesign. It should then define and identify your target audiences — people you are trying to reach and whose needs you want the website to serve.

Next would be technical and design requirements. This would be a comprehensive list of all the features and functionality you are looking for, specifying which are absolute must-haves and which are nice-to-haves.

The document should also define any anticipated technical and other constraints. For example, if your IT department requires that you use a specific type of content management system, and if the redesigned website will need to integrate with another system such as a CRM or an email marketing platform.

Another constraint to identify is staff composition — who will enter content and run your website once it is launched? Do you have a web team with staff in multiple roles and with different skill sets? Is your website a one-person operation? The vendor will craft the system and recommendations according to your internal constraints and capabilities.

Here’s an example of how to structure your scoping document outline:

  1. About the Organization
  2. Objectives of the redesign
    a. What problems are you trying to solve?
  3. Target audiences
    a. Primary
    b. Secondary and below
  4. Technical requirements
    a. Absolute requirements
    b. Nice-to-haves
  5. Design and creative requirements
    a. Absolute requirements
    b. Nice-to-haves
  6. Tentative budget
  7. Tentative timeline

The goal is after reading the scope, the prospective vendor should have a clear idea of your overall objectives, the problems you are trying to address and solve with the redesign, target audiences, which features are most important, and technical and other constraints.

Using your scoping document, the vendor can determine a price to quote for the project, the staffing they would need to accomplish it, and if your budget and timeline are realistic and in sync with their assessment.

Recommended resource: Writing a web redesign Scope of Work

Step 5: Finalize a Budget and Timeline

How do you set and finalize a realistic budget and timeline for your project?

Prior to soliciting proposals from vendors in a formal request for proposals (RFP), you can have informal conversations with them in a request for information or RFI process where you articulate your needs and invite them to provide feedback and express interest in your project.

Critical information to obtain in an RFI include:

  • Examples of past projects that are comparable to yours. These should include a description of the challenges faced, the approach taken, and the final solution implemented. Ask them to include information about the team, schedule, and budget for each project.
  • Information about each company, what makes them successful, and their direction for the future.
  • Ask the firms if how you present and organize information in your scoping document makes sense for them. Ask for advice on how to improve it.
  • Ask if your pricing and timeline estimate is realistic. Do they have budget or timeline questions that could help them better prepare a bid for you?

Based on the feedback you receive, you can get more insights into developing the final RFP and create a shortlist of firms to include in the RFP.

Recommended resource: How to conduct an RFI

Ready to Prepare for Your Successful Website Build or Redesign?

To sum up, a web redesign for an organization can be daunting with many moving parts, design and technical components, and stakeholders and staff to rally behind a common vision and goal.

But with proper planning and diligent attention to foundational processes and procedures, it is possible to get a handle on these components and comprehensively define your needs so you can communicate effectively with prospective vendors.

Use the five steps to engage with vendors, have practical, in-depth discussions, and make smart decisions to evaluate which one will be the best partner to help you redesign your organization’s website.

About the Author

Redante Asuncion-Reed is a freelance writer and Digital Communications Manager for Results for Development.

5 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Nonprofit Website Redesign