Prepare for Launch: De-Risking Website Redesign
In this article, we’re going to talk about steps you can take to spot and remove risk from your website redesign project.
We see that a lot of founders commission a new website when preparing to attract seed investment, so understanding how to tell a web designer what you need will help you get the best website for your money, whilst ensuring it appeals to your customers and potential investors alike.
We'll talk about actions you can take to prepare yourself for the project, and also touch on some important topics like expected services, timelines, usability, and how to spot a great designer to partner with.
You’re running a startup and you have many roles to juggle. One of them is understanding how a good website can help your business grow, attract funding, and reach more people. With this guide, you'll have another useful tool to help you do just that.
Understanding Your Role in the Process
First let’s talk about understanding your role in the whole process. Don't worry; you won't need to learn how to code or use Figma!
But there are a few important things you can do to help your project run smoothly.
Why is a website redesign necessary?
First up, know what you want from your new website. You need to be crystal clear about this because it determines the single most important action you want your visitor to take.
Once you know what that is, the basic structure of the site can be designed in such a way to make that more likely to happen.
If you don’t have this step locked down, it’s all just pretty shapes on a page.
Is your goal to attract potential investors? Or maybe you want it to be super easy for customers to buy your product? Or you could be positioning your company as a leader within a specific area?
Take some time to think about your goals for the website. Knowing what you want will make the redesign process much less stressful and keep everyone on the same page.
What should I prepare for website design?
Next, do a bit of prep work. This usually involves gathering any brand assets you have, like logos, color schemes, or even just ideas about what you like.
Having an overview of your main competitors helps too, as some of them will usually have already gone through this process.
Don’t overthink it; a Pinterest board or spreadsheet will do, and a shared folder you can quickly fire off to your designer to get things started quickly.
Who is the audience of your website?
Think about who your audience is, too. A good designer will help you with this stage of the process, and this is where their experience will pay for itself.
They’ve already spent hundreds of hours combing through different designs and companies, and can help you figure out what kind of website would appeal to your audience.
They will also be able to help you decide which features your site may need, which can often be things you’re not even aware of.
Effectively communicate feedback
Lastly, remember to keep a transparent and open dialogue with your designer. Website redesign is an iterative team effort.
Your feedback is super important to make sure the website ends up how you want it. So, don't be shy - speak up and let your designer know what you think!
Your role is all about knowing what you want, doing some prep work, and keeping in touch with your designer. Not too hard, right?
What Your Designer Will and Won't Cover
Let's talk about what a web designer does and doesn't do.
This is important to understand so you don't get any nasty surprises halfway through your project, and it will give you an idea of what questions to ask before paying a deposit.
What does a web designer do?
First, let's look at what a web designer generally takes care of.
They're the ones who make your website look good and work well for your target audience.
- creating a list of all pages needed (sitemap)
- the layout of the pages
- choosing colors
- picking fonts
- and increasingly actually building the site and testing it
Whether you’re buying a custom built site or a template, they should handle all of this.
They also work on making sure the website works on mobile devices, and is easy to use so your visitors can find what they're looking for (‘the goal’) without getting frustrated and bouncing off the page.
Steps for planning a website design
Finally you can expect them to schedule regular feedback and revision meetings, deliver a clear list of deliverables, and a project plan detailing how each milestone will be reached.
But hold on, what about the content on the site? This is where we need to look at what a web designer doesn't usually take care of.
Do web designers write content?
Writing the text content on your website, or 'copywriting', is often not included in a web designer's job. That's usually up to you or a professional writer.
Yes, you can use chatGPT but it’s fundamental to align the copy with your overarching brand strategy, and this is best done (like most things) by a domain expert.
Do web designer provide images, videos and 3d content?
Image, video, and 3D content is usually not provided by the website designer. However, the best designers will understand how to guide you towards content that best represents your goal.
For example if you’re going to hire a photographer to take headshots of your team, the designer could advise on whether a formal or casual setting is more complimentary for the overall site design.
Even if you’re not commissioning a photographer/videographer they can still help with selection of appropriate stock content.
Or perhaps you want some 3d animated product interactions; the designer can work with the animator to ensure the 3d assets are consistent with the site.
Do web designers need to know SEO?
You'll also need to think about SEO – remember, that's how you get your website showing up in search results.
This is a gigantic topic in itself, and depending on your goals you may need an SEO specialist for the best results.
But the basics can usually be handled by your web designer and this typically includes:
- Writing meta titles and descriptions
- Setting canonical URL’s
- OpenGraph images
- Image alt descriptions
- Lighthouse speed checks
- Correct heading hierarchy.
And, last but not least, if you want any special features on your website, like a unique product gallery or a live chat feature, these might cost extra and take more time.
Always be open and honest with your designer, and allow them to be open about their own limitations if they’re not able to deliver specific requests.
Creating a safe space for open communication ensures you’re less likely to hit problems mid-project.
Costs, Delays and Timelines in Startup Website Design
We've all heard the saying, "good things take time", right? Well, the same goes for a website redesign. But how much time are we talking about here? Let's break it down.
How long does it take to build a website?
Normally, a website redesign will take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
It all depends on what you need, or rather what your audience expects to see.
A simple single-page website built from a pre-existing template can be done pretty quickly if the content is already prepared.
But if you're after something with more pages, a new logo, custom sections, news and blog pages, and complex interactions with lots of special features, well, that's a few months of work.
What’s best for you? That totally depends on what your goal is for the site. Now you see why answering that question early on is so important!
Handling website design delays
Even with the best planning, things can sometimes slow down and the project can hit delays.
As a founder you know this better than most people. Markets change, people change. Maybe you’ve identified an untapped customer base and decide you want to add a new feature halfway through the project. Sometimes, it's just that designing and building a great website takes a bit longer than expected.
But here's the good news. You can do a few things to keep your website redesign on track.
Try to give clear and quick feedback to your designer. The quicker they know what you need, the quicker they can get on with it. They can also work with you to guide your new ideas without running dramatically over-budget.
Generally, try to keep changes to a minimum - knowing what you want from the start will really help keep things moving.
Functionality vs aesthetics
Should your website be drop-dead gorgeous or super easy to use? Well, why not both?
Let's talk about this important balance between aesthetics and user experience.
We all want a website that looks amazing, right? A stunning website can impress visitors and make your business look professional and trustworthy.
But there's a catch. We've all visited websites that look beautiful at first, but are a nightmare to navigate.
Maybe you can't find the 'Contact Us' button, or the menu is confusing. Perhaps there are dozens of animations and background videos which take an eternity to load.
This isn’t a place where people want to stay.
This is where user experience comes in. A great website should not only look good, but also be super easy for people to use, widely accessible, and fulfils their reason for being there in the first place.
The really skilled designer can balance these two things. It's their job to take your goals, build a website that not only looks amazing but also works like a dream.
In the end, people often don’t notice good design – it’s seamless.
The Added Value of Strategic Design Thinking
Alright, we've talked about the basics of a website redesign. Now, let's dive a bit deeper and understand what separates the best designers from the rest.
We're going to talk about strategic design thinking. Sounds fancy. It isn’t, but it can add a lot of value to your website redesign.
what is strategic design thinking?
Strategic design thinking is when your designer doesn't just take your requests and ideas at face value and blindly execute on them.
Instead, they try to understand the 'why' behind your requests.
- Why do you want a huge image slideshow on your homepage?
- Why do you want 3 CTA buttons in your hero section?
- Why do you want to add a live chat feature?
- Are these features actually solving a problem?
Remember…you’re usually not the expert here so be open to feedback.
By understanding your reasons and your goals, your designer can come up with solutions that really fit your needs. Sometimes, they might suggest something different from what you initially asked for.
But remember, they're not trying to be difficult. They're using their experience and expertise to propose the best solution for you.
Strategic design thinking example
You ask your designer to add a ton of information on your homepage because your main competitor has done the same thing.
Your designer, understanding that too much information will overwhelm visitors, might suggest preserving the key message, whilst spreading the remaining information across several other pages and creating a clear menu to help users navigate, whilst also giving more opportunities for improved SEO as a secondary benefit.
See? Strategic design thinking can turn good ideas into great ones. It helps your designer make decisions that support your business goals and create a website that really works for you.
That's what a successful website redesign is all about.
Wrap Up: De-Risk your website redesign project
Thanks for reading this far! I hope you've picked up a few useful tips and insights along the way.
Let's do a quick recap.
- Understand your role in the website redesign process: Remember to know your goals, do a bit of prep work, and keep that communication line with your designer open.
- We also talked about what web design services usually cover and what they don't, so you can plan ahead and avoid any unexpected surprises.
- Timelines and delays? Good things take time, and a website redesign is no different. Don’t forget the balance between a stunning website and one that's super easy to use.
- Lastly, we touched on strategic design thinking. This is where your designer goes the extra mile to really understand your needs and propose solutions that truly work for you.
When all these pieces come together, you end up with a website that maximizes your chances of helping you attract customers, impress investors, and grow your startup.
That is the power of a well-executed website redesign.
Next Steps: Connect with a Website Designer for startups
Now that you've got all this knowledge about website redesign, what's the next step?
Well, that's up to you. Maybe you're ready to dive right into a redesign, or maybe you just want to learn a bit more. Either way, I'm here to help.
If you want some advice or just want to chat about your ideas, don't be shy - get in touch!
Hit that ‘Email’ button at the top of the page, or drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then, good luck with the next project!