Your firm just approved a major marketing initiative: Redesigning the website. As the Marketing Manager you are probably thinking, “I’m already busy. What have I gotten myself into?” Good question.
In this article I break down the major stages and time commitments necessary for you, as project leader, as well as everyone on the project committee. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
Selecting Your Agency Partner: 6 hours and up
Finding the right agency to work with is an important first step. We suggest sending an RFP to 4-6 agencies so you can review proposals that are “apples-to-apples.” Clockwork offers RFP Templates just for this purpose (feel free to request one using the pull-down field.) After reviewing the proposals, bring in your short-list for a meet-and-greet to gauge personalities and working styles. It’s important that the chemistry is right!
Website Kick-Off Meeting: 1-2 hours
You’ve selected your creative agency for the project. Check! During the kick-off meeting, they will review the project process and immediate next steps with your website committee. Often, you will look at your current website as well as competitor websites and discuss what you like and dislike, what you think works well, and what you’d like to see changed or added. Your agency will help you assess your existing website’s navigational elements, functional capabilities, and specific areas that need improvement.
New Sitemap Review: 1-2 hours
Your agency will prepare a revised sitemap, which acts as a “blueprint,” organizing and defining the content to build the site. Review time can be pretty quick if you are not making major organizational changes to your website. If major changes are needed (i.e. reorganizing practice areas/services, adding industries, restructuring the portfolio, adding tabs to bio pages, etc.) more time will be needed to reach consensus.
Homepage Design: 3-6 hours
Everyone on the committee should be excited and curious to see the homepage design options your agency will present. Here at Clockwork, we present homepage messaging, logo revisions (when needed), and homepage designs all in tandem, as words and visuals must work together. We find doing so helps streamline the review process considerably.
By the end of the meeting, the committee should come to consensus on the preferred homepage design, or provide direction for modifications you’d like to see made. After that (or maybe one more round of tweaks), you should have your new homepage officially approved.
Secondary Page Designs: 4-6 hours
The agency will present the secondary page designs and listen to your initial responses. You should review the designs further over the next few days with your committee, gather all the feedback and share it with the agency. After the agency incorporates your feedback, you will need to review and approve the secondary page designs.
Responsive Designs: 1-2 hours
The review process for the responsive designs (for tablets and smartphones) should be minimal, because responsive designs are a reformatted version of the approved desktop-sized designs. However, you should also take this time to review ALL the designs and give the final website design approval prior to the start of programming.
Content Development: Time varies widely
There are many different scenarios when it comes to content:
- It is perfect the way it is now, lucky you! (This is very unusual and almost never happens.)
- It needs some updates. You, or your agency’s copywriter, must edit web pages for grammar and consistency of style. A few pages may need to be totally rewritten. (This is the norm. Allocate about 1-2 hours/page for minor updates, 2-4 hours/page for total rewrites.)
- Everything needs to be rewritten. There may be someone at your firm that can take this on, but it is a huge amount of work. More likely, you’ll look to your agency or hire a copywriter to handle this for you. In either case, you will still need to manage the process, circulating drafts to get sign-offs from appropriate team members.
We strongly recommend drafting and approving text for sample main secondary pages (i.e. a bio, a practice area, a service page, a project description, etc.) before interior page design begins. This sample text can then be used for lay out purposes, so actual text drives the page design.
Aim to finalize all the content before site programming begins. Writing content will always take longer than you think!
Photography: Time varies widely
If the approved designs require custom photography involving people at your firm, photos should be taken soon after the website homepage and interior page designs are approved. Your agency will generally handle coordinating the shoot, but will need your help to schedule people at your firm. Individual bio portraits will take about 10-15 minutes per person. If your new site design requires group shots, “action” style photos of people working together, employees interacting with clients, shots taken at different locations, the time needed varies widely. (Read more: 5 tips for a successful photo shoot)
Beta Site Review: One week and up
Once your new site is fully programmed, your agency will send you the “beta” site (a fully working site with a non-public URL) for you to review. Share the beta site with your website committee, and compile a list of edits. Typically there are a few rounds of review, feedback, and edits before the site is ready to launch.
Congratulations! Announce and celebrate your new website with the world!
At the top of this article I’ve included a visual representation of the project timeline. As you can see, some phases needed to be completed before moving on the next phase, while others can be worked on concurrently.