The challenge with many website redesign efforts is that they fail to include activities that relate to the brand. Not addressing the brand properly during the redesign process can lead to scope creep and unexpected project costs.
So here’s a look at the linear stages of a branding growth model that should be applied like guardrails to the website redesign process. It doesn’t matter what an agency’s design methodology is (agile or waterfall) — the branding growth model has a sequential order.
Remember, this model is sequential. For example; if you go too far into stage 3, the creative stage, without fleshing out stages 1 or 2, purpose or content, you will likely take on project scope creep. That means the project will take more hours and more dollars to complete.
As a visual designer, over the years I have been a part of hundreds of website launches and redesigns for Fortune 500 midsize and start up companies. The websites have varied in ranges from fewer than 10 pages to more than 10,000 pages. Under the technical hood, they varied from enterprise content management systems to transactional e-commerce marketplaces to simple WordPress solutions. Distilled from my experiences is a proven growth model that serves as a guide for the successful design or redesign of websites and applications. Here are some branding tips:
1. Define the business goal purpose of your redesign. Embarking on a new website for your business can create lots of excitement as well as pressure. Many redesigns get completed but never get launched, like movie footage that doesn’t make the final cut. Why? It’s very easy for a website redesign project to go off the rails. You can help keep it on track by applying the brand growth model throughout the process.
The first step is to define the business goals of what you want to achieve with your website. Keep these goals simple and straightforward. For instance, improving the look and feel should be coupled with converting more visitors to customers, increasing website traffic by 50% or lowering a bounce rate by 15%. A website always has the potential to be a force multiplier of your sales efforts to support your sales team.
2. Audit the content of your competitors. A redesign is a perfect time to review the content that describes your solutions, services or products. To do this, you must conduct research. One of my biggest pet peeves in the redesign process is when I see the use of garbled Latin text, commonly known as “Greeking” or dummy text. It’s used in presentations of creative redesign solution mock-ups or wireframes. What good is the creative solution if the text is written in a dead language and you can’t read what is says?
It’s the job of visual designers and digital agencies to use the right words and images to convey messages and ideas that appropriately represent the solutions and services of your brand. The content about your services should be benefit-driven, up to date and on par with the marketing materials of your competitors. Improving your content messaging and calls to action should clearly differentiate you from competitors and be supported by impactful visuals.
3. Achieve consistency with a web standards page for buildouts. There is a theory that many companies have an existing set of brand guidelines that came with the logo they received from a graphic designer or branding consultant. The reality is that brand style guides are very useful and comprehensive documents — but if you don’t yet have one, it’s OK. Collect the top three visual elements and create a style guide as a page in your web production process. On one page, include the following:
- Color palette that defines primary, secondary and accent colors
- Typography that includes big text, headline text and copy text
- Style preference for buttons and links, and guidelines on how they’re used
4. Ensure positive user experience (UX) is achieved before relaunch. In the web production stage, the focus is on designing the pages to be interactive and to contain all of the required interaction and functionality. But web developers must go beyond a simple punch list of functions and ensure a positive experience is reached before pulling the trigger to launch the new website.
5. Commit to your redesign like it’s a new first impression. Branding is ultimately about managing the perception of your business, so applying the proper branding expertise to a website redesign process will not only improve visual results of your business web presence, but it will also become more likely to be considered for new opportunities.
Make your new first impression more impactful by creating a memorable experience for customers, partners and employees.
Jerome Smith is the creative director and owner of brandEvolve LLC, a company created in 2002 that helps organizations grow their business through a brand focus. He can be reached at www.brandevolve.com or 407-792-5893.
As seen in October 2020 i4 Business Magazine