When thinking about a website redesign, one of the first questions people usually ask is: How long is this going to take?
Time is a valuable thing. As a business owner, it's only natural that you want your redesign to start and finish within a reasonable time frame.
It’s easy, though, to get caught up in the "big picture" and forget about the little details. Website owners forget to break down timelines on a smaller scale. As a result, they usually forget to account for one of the most important costs of all: their own time.
Timelines and website redesigns
A big-picture timeline is an important aspect of planning your website redesign. You need to have a specific goal that you're working toward, like: We want to launch our new website in x months.
Once a firm deadline is set, attention usually shifts from the business to the web designer. Key stakeholders want to know when they can expect to receive deliverables. They want benchmarks and due dates, and they want to know what the designer will do to meet the deadlines.
What businesses often fail to do is think about what needs to happen internally to help keep the project moving forward. If the project plan looks good, sounds good and makes good on the company's deadline, that's usually the end of thinking about the redesign. The calendar might include tasks like "receive design feedback from client" or "client sends final approved copy for website," but they don't really register with the client...because the client thinks their job is done. They think the rest is up to the design team.
Your time...the cost that gets overlooked
Your involvement with a website redesign doesn't stop once the contract's been signed, sealed and delivered. You should expect to maintain an active role in the project, if you want your redesign to be a smashing success.
But where does the time go? You'd be surprised! There are a number of tasks, big and small, that may need your attention, such as:
- Do you need to set aside time to write content for your website?
- Do other team members need to spend some time writing, too?
- Do you need to set aside time for a copywriter to interview you?
- Do you need to set aside time for interviews with key staff from customer service, sales, marketing, etc.?
- How much time will you need to review and edit content produced by a third party?
- When will you schedule a photo shoot?
- How long will it take?
- Will you and your team need to schedule a makeup shoot?
- Will you have time to review the website and provide feedback in a timely manner?
- Do other staff members need to give feedback?
- Are there upcoming vacations or holidays that need to be considered when scheduling meetings with your team or marketing agency?
Tips to budget enough time for a website redesign
Giving your redesign the time it deserves doesn't have to be hard or stressful. Just remember to follow these tips:
Include extra time upfront.
Just like you have a "rainy day" or "emergency" fund for your personal finances, set aside some extra time for your website. If you think your redesign should take four months, go ahead and give yourself four and a half to five months for completion. This can help you combat delays or other unexpected hiccups during your project.
Coordinate with key team members early and often.
Get together a list of holidays, vacations and other meetings or conflicts, for you and the other team members that will be involved in the redesign. This will help you when setting aside time to review the website and compile feedback.
And, as new events come up, make sure to update your team and your designer. Give people plenty of notice if a deadline needs to be amended.
Break down big deadlines into smaller "chunks".
You have a month to gather website content and other assets. No sweat, right? That's plenty of time. Until you suddenly realize that it's been a month, and your deadline is tomorrow morning.
Set smaller, bite-size goals and due dates to help you manage your workload. You can set goals for yourself week by week, or even day by day. Today, I will finish the about us page. By the end of the week, I will have the home page, about us page, and services pages done. Next week, I'll start . . . .
This way, you won't get stuck burning the midnight oil.
Schedule weekly status checks with your designer.
Set aside 15 to 30 minutes to "check in" with your designer each week. This standing appointment can help keep you motivated and on track because you'll have someone to answer to.
Use existing meeting times, when you can.
Does your team already have a Monday morning meeting? Do you have board meetings scheduled once a month? Try to use these existing meetings when you know you have an important task and deadline coming up, like design review and feedback. You'll already have all the important team members together in the same place at the same time.
Get started on your tasks ASAP.
It can be tempting to wait until it's your time to "start" on the project. Oh, we don't need to deliver staff photos until Month 3? Great! Let's hold off on doing those photos for now.
But the sooner you start, the sooner you can finish your tasks.
Plus, getting a head start can help you spot and stop problems early on. If you start your photos in Month 1, you have plenty of time to schedule makeup photos in Month 2 and deliver final photography by Month 3.
Starting and finishing your tasks ahead of schedule can help speed up the redesign process overall. Is the designer waiting for content from you before design starts? Turning in that content a couple weeks early means the design phase and subsequent phases can also start earlier.
By managing your time wisely, you can make sure that your project stays on track (and on budget!) from day one. What other tips do you have for time management? Was there a time-related mistake that hurt your website redesign?