If you’re like most companies, you can expect the planning phase of your web redesign project to last around 3 months. The average time between redesigns is from 1½ to 2 years. That means you probably spend between a sixth and an eighth of your calendar time planning what will go on your website.
Why does it take so long?
You and your coworkers probably have a pretty good sense of what’s at stake when you’re building a new website. Everyone does their shopping online these days, and even if your business serves other businesses your website is usually the first thing clients see. So what you show people on your little window onto the world—or rather the world’s window onto you—is really important.
As with any important decision, you can expect there to be a profusion of opinions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when you start trying to cram all those disparate ideas onto one site, things can get a little chaotic. Plus, some ideas will naturally line up better together than others. Separately, both Bob’s idea and Judy’s idea sound great. On the same webpage though—not so much.
Tons of design ideas bubble up, some make it past the first round of discussions, and some make it all the way to approval by your company’s leadership. But then something gets changed—maybe even for the best of reasons—and it’s like pulling the one thread that unravels the entire tapestry. Back to the drawing board. Back to all the subsequent planning phases.
It’s easy to see how this could go on for months.
2. Underperforming at Launch
The other thing that makes planning so difficult is that nobody really knows what will make your website successful when you’re all still in the earliest planning stages. All you have to go on is the site’s past performance. That’s why the brainstorming seems so directionless. Pretty much the only thing you can say is, “Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I wonder if it’ll work.”
So you make it to the end of planning, you have the site developed, and then you launch the new design, knowing it will remain how it is for at least a year and half. How does it do? Well, in all likelihood, your redesigned website will perform just about as well as it did before the redesign.
If your website was really overdue for an update, you can console yourself that traffic may have dropped precipitously had you not overhauled the design. But you can’t help being disappointed. What did you do all that planning for, why did you invest all that time and all those resources, just to end up with a website that performs as well, or as poorly, as it did before?
Is there a way to avoid this endless cycle of overplanned and underperforming website redesigns?
An Agile Approach to Web Design
Our new e-book is about how principles borrowed from agile software development can help your business do more focused planning for better functioning websites. The principles include:
Iterative Cycles: One of the reasons planning a website gets so complicated is that you’re trying to work the whole thing out at once. Agile works by breaking large projects down into multiple smaller subprojects. How does this help? First, it’s easier to plan when you’re dealing with one thing at a time, limiting the scope to a specified period of time. And, second, iterating your project gives you a chance to make adjustments at any point during implementation. That’s what makes the process agile.
Continuous Development: You know how apps on your phone are constantly being updated? You can make something similar happen with your website. As you gather more and more user data, you’ll be developing greater insight into how people are actually interacting with your site. That will give you ideas about how to improve visitors’ experiences and increase the site’s overall performance.
It means that your web design project is never really done. But it also means you’ll be able to make updates based on real user data instead of a bunch of guesswork about what’s going to happen two years from now.
If you want to learn more about how and why agile is being applied to web design and development, click on the link below and download our new e-book. Learn how to truly embrace the endless cycle of website redesign.
I'm Aptera's Content Strategist. I've been writing about tech and marketing for 5 years and have certifications from HubSpot and The Content Marketing Institute. A big science and literature geek, I taught college rhetoric and composition while I was still busy going to school for way too long, earning bachelor's degrees in anthropology and psychology, along with a master's in British and American literature. Look me up on LinkedIn.