Don't play the waiting game before you formally begin a digital redesign. Three steps to get started.

Having a bad website can be an embarrassment. Yet worse than your friends making disparaging remarks about your site’s prominent use of bevel and emboss, or your colleagues talking smack about that fixed width layout that’s been frustrating 95% of your users since 2010, is the fact your bad website may be impacting your bottom line through decreased enrollment, or another form of lost sales.

Wherever your problems exist, I can assure you, you’re in capable hands with Fastspot. We take great pride in our work and we’d be excited to enter into a creative partnership with you.

Generally speaking, there’s some red tape you’ll need to cut before you redesign your website. Internal roadblocks include a lack of clarity about budget for the project, or a dearth of buy-in from key stakeholders within your organization.

Since “The Waiting Game” is nobody’s favorite way to pass the time, I’m going to outline a few ways you can make better utilization of it. From a designer’s perspective, here’s how you can prepare for a redesign, before that project even gets started.

Understand the Playing Field

Familiarizing yourself with the best work being created within the digital realm (and not just in your industry) is crucial to contextualizing your ambitions. I’ve been a web designer since the late 90’s, and I'm continuously surprised by the dated aspirational websites some clients show us, with the hope we can build them something similar.

We can, and do, build sites so much better than the vast majority of what our clients’ neighbors are doing. I absolutely encourage you to dream big and review the best contemporary web work on the following sites: webbyawards.com, siteinspire.com or awwwards.com. This can help broaden your expectations and vision for the project.

In addition to reviewing aspirational websites, you should be keeping tabs on what your peers are doing online. Push to differentiate yourself and make notes about what you do and don’t like about what you're seeing online.

Gathering and Creating Content

You will want to review your assets before we get started. By this, I mean photography, videos, testimonials, profiles and any other collateral we can use to express the nuances of your character. Content is key; the strength of your images inevitably plays a large role in how the website is perceived. We can design a beautiful website, but ultimately if the photography or videos are weak, they will leave a negative impression with the end user. There may be a wellspring of content in the headmaster or CEO’s office, hiding in the athletic director’s file cabinets or buried beneath the library. Once you’ve assembled your assets, review them very critically.

A chief strategizing principle which drives much of our work is: “Show, don’t tell.” How can you be demonstrative, without being didactic? Through highlighting genuine content. Case in point; assume that I’m a prospective student -- say someone who loves Hacky Sack. Your school has the chillest campus green and dankest foot bag circles on the East Coast. If I were visiting your website, I’d rather hear directly from another student, through a video or testimonial, about these circles. Show, don’t tell. If you can’t show your story with existing content, now is the time to generate it.

Taking Your Narrative by the Reins

Having a clear consensus regarding your identity will allow you to articulate your project’s objectives and goals, giving us a better chance to tell your story while hitting those objectives. When I say ‘identity,’ I don’t mean branding. My intent is to understand what your team feels about the institution or organization, and help them articulate that. It’s surprising to meet with a client who can't really express what it is about their organization which is unique, particular, or even challenging. We’ll enthusiastically work with you to refine, define, or cultivate your identity, but we can do an even better job when you come to the table knowing your strengths and weaknesses.

What about your project’s goals and objectives? Having a beautiful website is a perfectly fine outcome, but we expect our designs to express something fundamental about you and ultimately achieve measurable results. Part of your institutional narrative may be that you are staging truly wonderful performances, but attendance always seems to be low. Your admission funnel may be too small, or you might not be attracting ideal students. The point is that having a good sense of where you stand will ultimately inform our work. Knowing where you stand isn’t always subjective. In addition to bringing your “story” to the table, providing us with analytic data will shed some light on your needs and point us toward design solutions. If you haven’t been collecting data or thinking about “who you are,” now would be a good time to start.

As the saying goes:  Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. Our projects generally take a good chunk of time to get green-lit, and in that interim there are many ways you can prepare for our creative partnership. By understanding the playing field, gathering content, and taking your narrative by the reins, you can start contributing to the success of your future website before the project begins.

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published October 24th 2016