Website redesign, new build or re-platform projects are complex, but a necessary part of any business. While unknowns are sure to arise, as in any project, planning ahead can make a world of difference. In the following, we dive a bit deeper into the 5 questions you need to answer before your next website project starts.
1. Define the business need and goal of your site
Understanding, and defining, the purpose of your website is perhaps the most critical component of any website development project as it serves as the foundation from which all other decisions are made. Whether it be driving leads, sales or awareness, defining the goal of your site serves as the basis for accurately determining the “who” will be using the site along with the corresponding “what” action it is you ultimately want them to take.
2. Determine site functionality needed
Directly linked to the importance of defining the business need and goal of your site, determining the required functionality upfront greatly improves the likelihood that the build will finish on time and budget. And, while most modern platforms include an array of out-of-box features, more often than not there is also a need for custom features to be created as well. These can include:
- A Blog
- A Customer Account Portal
- An Online Meeting Scheduler
- A Contact Form
- A Store/Salesperson Locator
Having these and other integral needs decided ahead of time gives your development team the advance notice needed to ensure they’re able to scope and resource the project appropriately.
3. Outline current content + content needed
One of the largest undertakings of any website development project is creation of the content plan (and subsequent execution). Whether starting from scratch or refreshing an existing site, the number of decisions around content development and management can be overwhelming. This is where we often see website build projects go off the rails, which reinforces the importance of having a complete understanding of content needs before kickoff.
A great place to start is taking an inventory of all current content and images. This helps level-set the needs moving forward. With a solid understanding, the project team can accurately assess and assign the appropriate resources ahead of time. As you review, start by asking these questions:
- Is new text/messaging content needed?
- Will any existing text content be kept and migrated?
- Will existing text content need to be revised?
- Are new images needed?
- Will any existing images be kept and migrated?
- Are image sizes & specs changing?
4. Assign stakeholder roles & responsibilities
There are many moving parts with any website build project and assembling a comprehensive cross-functional team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities is vital to success.
Making sure that key groups such as Marketing, IT and Finance are represented on the team (in addition to the development team) will greatly increase the speed of gaining approvals/buy-in should the need for additional resources arise at some point along the way. Additionally, deciding on a departmental project “owner” is also a must prior to kickoff (e.g. Marketing, IT, etc.).
5. Ensure technical structure is in place
Finally, there are far too many technical considerations to list in a single blog post, but some of the essential pieces to have in place include:
- Web Domain
- Do you currently have a domain(s)?
- Will it/they be changing?
- Web Hosting
- Do you currently have a hosting plan?
- If so, will it meet the needs of the new site?
- Software Integrations
- Which, if any, of your backend systems will need to be integrated (e.g. ERP, CRM, Payment Gateway, etc.)?
- Will there be any new system integrations?
- Is there currently a staging/testing environment in place?
From our experience, the adage, “failure to plan is a plan for failure” definitely holds true in the case of website development projects. With the help of advance planning to truly understand your business’ core needs, define stakeholder roles/responsibilities, and accurately assess project scope and requirements, your business will have a new site in no time!
Are you in the process of planning for a new website? NordicClick can help to ensure a smooth, successful build with end-to-end web development planning, launch and support services. Learn more about our Website Design & Development capabilities.