We're in the midst of assisting a new client with a website redesign. Their current site appears to have been done quite a few years ago and appears that way. It's fixed HTML with no responsiveness, a difficult URL structure, and no content management system behind it. At the time, the site was quite an undertaking and I'm quite sure they invested quite a bit of money in it – but it's simply not working for them any longer.
There's a team effort on the new designs, which slows productivity since it's largely dependent upon consensus among the players. We're fairly used to these situations and have worked through difficulties in managing designs in the past.
One issue in common isn't the site or the design at all, it's changing the paradigm that a website redesign is a project and not a process. There's an unfortunate expectation that every design, every piece of content, and every navigation element must be perfect.
They won't be.
They won't be because the performance of the website can not be predicted until it's live and users are interacting with it. I often joke with companies that their website is not for them – it's for their visitors. Some find it offensive as they look at a well-branded, beautiful site that's been perfectly launched just as they would their own child. Sometimes their child; however beautiful, isn't performing well with the rest of the class.
The great thing about modern content management systems is that you have all of the ingredients of a web site separate. If the navigation doesn't work… no worries… design a new one. If the design isn't working… get a new one. If the content isn't working, write new content.
At DK New Media, we very seldom write project-based engagements for site redesigns because we realize that the site needs time to perform and be measured. Our minimum is 90 days so that we can at least make any changes that may be impeding search visibility and give us time for conversion optimization.
This is why it's imperative to have your site built on a solid content management system with every capability. After your site launches, you should only have to return to a developer if you're seeking new features. But layouts, hierarchy and verbiage should all be interchangeable by the client.
If we launch the new site and it doesn't perform better or the client finds some more optimal designs, the great thing is that we can always make adjustments – both minor or major. If you want to win the race, though, you have to retire the old car and get the new one on the track to begin testing.