Updating your website is a process - one that can feel overwhelming, even if you've been through it before. To help you navigate the journey, we've partnered with a few marketing experts to bring you a candid collection of advice and best practices, which we’ll be delivering through our Redesigning Your Website series.
Last week, we shared a few tips to help you choose the right technology platform for your new site. This week, we move into the Designing phase.
PHASE 4 – DESIGNING
Once you've kicked off the redesign, it’s time to start thinking about design! Kalev Peekna, One North Managing Director, Strategy, suggests first performing a brand review. Look over your current guidelines to provide the creative team with direction on items like global font use, color treatments, positioning statements and any image library your firm tends to use. Share collateral examples that represent the best view of your brand.
If you don’t have firm or compiled guidelines, gather your team and ask people in the room to identify website sections; conference trinket giveaways and other collateral that’s best—and why.
“That exercise really helps people hone where their brand is and where it’s headed —they might be exploring slightly different directions or modernizing it,” Peekna says.
If you don’t have any relevant items, consider bringing in examples of other firm or company materials that represent a desired look and feel.
Again, it’s important to keep in mind that your brand should have some flexibility.
You want your design to maintain your brand color, logo and other elements to ensure consistency, but you don’t want to default to redundancy. Being open to new ideas and opportunities can present inventive options that you hadn’t even considered.
Other things to keep in mind as the creative process unfolds:
GET A BRANDLIFT.
Redoing your website is a perfect time to refresh or rethink your brand’s look and feel. Business law and litigation firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP took the opportunity to implement updates to its visual identity during the firm’s redesign project.
Previously, the site contained a number of orange elements. The new color palette is blue, black, white and grey, with a few orange call-to-action items—which helped bring Fasken Martineau’s online presence up-to-date with its other collateral.
“We had just undergone a brand refresh,” says Fasken Martineau’s Digital Strategy Manager Desiree Turko. “And the former site was no longer aligned with it.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that there’s room to be flexible with your digital brand identity.
“Your website doesn’t have to be a literal or strict interpretation of your offline brand,” says One North Strategy Manager Sarah Levine Meyer. “Oftentimes, websites extend brand guidelines in ways that make sense for the interactive medium.”
KNOW THAT DESIGN IS A PROCESS.
Brainstorming can take the project in exciting directions—but be aware that eventually, the work will need to move on to the design stage. Once you’re seeing site mock-ups, you’ll likely see multiple rounds of options. “Getting it 100 percent right the first time is a wonderful experience, but also is incredibly rare,” Peekna says. “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately see what you thought it would be.”
One thing that can help it get to the right place? Pledge to abstain from using the ‘mute’ button.
“Many times, clients sort of hit the mute button and consolidate their feedback before sharing it with us,” Peekna says. “However, it’s that first reaction to the designs that we’re looking for. It gives us a true sense of whether or not it’s going in the right direction.”
WE LIKE A PEANUT GALLERY.
“Sometimes people feel awkward giving creative teams criticism because we’re passionate about the design,” Peekna says. “But don’t be afraid to tell people what you think. All feedback—including negative feedback—is critical.”
Be specific. “Tell me what part you don’t like,” he says. “And don’t be afraid to contribute your own ideas. Even if we don’t use every one, it gives us a sense of what you like and what you’re looking for.”
If you're looking for some great website design inspiration, check out our WE LIKE THESE SITES Pinterest board.
Next week, we break ground on the Building Phase. Can’t wait until then? Good news…you don’t have to! You can find all of the phases in our Definitive & Candid Guide to Successful Websites.