Website modernization: 12 points that need to be clarified in advance
Do not rush off the bat, having started upgrading the site: you risk throwing out the child with the water.
Sush Kelly warns about this, a designer and developer from the UK – in his article “12 Questions To Ask Before Redesigning a Website” he offers a convenient checklist of questions. With it, you will not lose important design elements and do not make common mistakes. Especially recommended to developers and designers. Site owners can also read:
1. And what is the guideline?
The redesign of the company’s website, which has already acquired a recognizable brand, must be thought out to the smallest detail and meet all the necessary criteria laid down in the guideline. Of course, the designer has the opportunity to take a fresh look at the company colors and the company logo, breathe new life into them – but the basic principles should not be touched, the brand should remain recognizable.
Small companies, of course, have more freedom – here you need to focus on the needs of the client. It is worth asking his opinion: what exactly and how to change on the site.
2. Is it worth keeping the visual hierarchy?
Even a well-designed website can easily become obsolete visually. At the same time, a well-developed method of presenting materials can be implemented on it. Do not break the logic of the site and do not abandon the working mechanisms just for the sake of modernization. If you have a good design and a good website, you only need to modify it a little.
3. Does hosting support what you want to implement?
So, you are working with a site hosted on a particular hosting – you need to take into account its features at the stage of preparation for the redesign. Not all servers can support plugins and technologies necessary for your work. Often this concerns the right environment: for example, you need .NET support, and only PHP is available on the hosting. In this case, be prepared to transfer the site to another hosting – of course, if the IT department of the client gives you permission.
4. Does the client want to continue using the old CMS?
You should not try to teach the old dog to perform new tricks, so you do not insist on a new and super-convenient CMS. As a rule, the site owner is far from the technical side of the question and does not want to relearn at all (he has already memorized the mechanism for adding materials, why break the system, right?).
The situation with the old sites may look different: the CMS can be self-made or very outdated and need updates – so the client in any case takes time to get used to the new interface. Your task is to convince the client to give preference to the popular CMS, which can significantly facilitate his life and save money.
5. Got so much content that there is no sense to transfer?
First, the transfer is still worth it. This is an indicator of the company’s work, its experience and development. Secondly, in some cases, customers will be just happy if you, on your own (or with the help of interns), help them with relocation. Also check whether it is possible to work with the old data structure or import them into the new database without going beyond the reasonable limits of the budget.
6. What advantages will the company get by choosing your technical solution?
The main feature of the site for customers is payback. They are waiting for, if not economic benefits, then certain advantages: additional stability, expansion of the “territory of influence”, development of the company as a whole. Will your technical solution work to achieve these goals?
If you are not confident in your competence – do not touch the project (especially in those cases when you need to program in an unfamiliar language). In some cases it is better to refuse to work, saying: “I would be happy to help you with your project, but …”
7. How to deal with the old code?
In the past three years, developers have preferred block rather than tabular layout. If you are forced to work with tables, it is better to immediately offer to write a new structure from scratch.
8. How to change the user interface?
Trends in web development are changing as rapidly as the emergence of new devices and ways to access the Internet. If earlier you were trying to “shove” all the necessary content into one screen in order to avoid scrolling, now you are abandoning internal sections in favor of one-page pages and parallax. Tablets have developed a passion in users to constantly scroll through pages.
Selecting the desired item in a complex menu, typed in small print, can be quite difficult, especially if you are trying to get these links on the screen of your tablet. So, you should evaluate the key demographic characteristics of potential users: do they go online using mobile devices, or do most people still use IE7? To find out this does not hurt – this will help you to site analytics. The results may surprise you.
9. Do I need to change the site architecture?
Exploring the way content is presented with analytical data can also be very useful. Look at the statistics for the past years – and it will become clear what material users consider important. Its something that should be put on the forefront in the architecture of the site.
10. Do you have access to the sources?
Have you been entrusted with a site made from compiled files? Or do you have access only to the final version of the site, and the client shrugs when he heard about the source files? Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon. One can only hope that the absence of source codes will not affect the result of your work.
11. How SEO can change the site?
Do not forget about metadata and other SEO tools already implemented on the site. Because of them, the service may look awful, but it is SEO that allows the site to hold top positions. For you it will be a real failure – if the modernization of the site has a negative impact on its promotion.
12. Maybe for the implementation of your ideas have already appeared new technologies?
Of course, it is not easy – to implement an old flash-site on HTML5 or jQuery. But it’s worth it: the site will be displayed on modern devices. But again, remember about the users and the devices they are used to: not everyone will open the “new product”. In this case, leave access to the old version of the site – content above all.
Before diving into CSS and Photoshop, ask yourself these 12 questions. These are the very basic things, without which you shouldn’t start a redesign. We suggest you add this list to develop a checklist of questions to help designers and coders. We share experience and discuss in the comments.