Says it all, really. [Thanks, xkcd.com]
Four long years ago we embarked on a website redevelopment. Our CMS was held together with bits of string and sticky-tape, and we needed a new one, stat.
The alarm bells on our first system sounded when the American sales rep was more interested in scanning the scantily clad students walking past the office window than he was in speccing out our system requirements. (Kids these days. Their outfits are held together with bits of string and sticky tape, seriously.)
It kinda went downhill from there, and we all moved on to a happier place. Destination: doing it ourselves.
Having a rather large website (8,000+ pages) that needed a whole lot of love, we needed to chunk the work a bit. So here was our approach to website redevelopment:
Step 1: Clean it up (redo the information architecture)
- archive what needs to be
- delete what you’re allowed to
- expire unnecessary pages or those that no-one has edited for a year (if they can’t be bothered keeping it up-to-date, they won’t notice it is missing)
- check the page stats for usage
- based on all of the above, then tidy up the navigation
- benchmark against the competitors for key sections
- draft a new sitemap
- logic test the sitemap with key user groups
- consult with stakeholders (slide #1 in your presentation should be the image at the top of this page)
- plug it in
Step 2: Make it look pretty (redesign)
- make a homepage link list based on the current homepage and the awesome new logical information architecture
- benchmark the homepage against competitors – look at links, images, colours, functionality, social media, consistency, etc
- check Google analytics for devices, screen resolutions, browsers, etc
- brief the designers for a homepage, landing pages, content pages
- mock-up their mock-ups to make sure it’s do-able
- test the working design on key user groups (survey for usability and appeal)
- consult with the project champion to get their support and send them off to tell whoever they need to higher-up what the homepage will look like (slide #1 in their presentation should be the image at the top of this page)
- plug it in
Step 3: Make it work good (CMS)
Now that there is a clean, logical, functional and pretty website, with a whole lot of ideas gleaned from benchmarking, testing, and trawling, it makes it a whole lot easier to spec a system – because by now, you should know what you want, and what you need it to do. Our functionality wish-list was hefty.
It’s late, and my iPad is lonely, so I’ll cover off on the CMS component another time. That’s a whole other happy journey of collaboration between a marketing department and an IT department. Destination: I can’t find it on the map. Manyana, folks.