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The Website Redesign: Getting Better Results the Second Time Around (Part 3)

This is the third post in a series of three articles covering nearly every aspect of how to prepare for and redesign your website from the business owner's perspective. The first and second installments are also available.

Collect Your Content

Now that you have a better idea of what to include in the new website you can begin collecting the content from various sources. Some of it may come from your sales and marketing department, some from product or service managers, and if you run a small business most of your content can be garnered from brochures and other sales collateral. And probably a good portion of it will come from your existing website (minus the stuff that wasn’t so popular.) Try to get the content into a format that is easy to edit such as Microsoft Word.

Edit for a Web Audience

Back in the days when businesses first began setting up websites the common practice was to copy text straight from brochures or product data sheets and publish it to the web word-for-word. A good deal of this content droned on-and-on about a product or service and never inspired tangible results for the business. Why? Because most people simply ignored much of the information. Your customers generally don’t read entire web pages from top-to-bottom. They scan them.

Your Customers don't Read, they Scan!

When you browse a Website do you read the entire page or do you quickly scan it in search of links or subheadings until you find what you’re looking for?

Below are a few simple guidelines to help you prepare the content:

You can find much more info about writing copy for your website in my previous post: Writing Copy for Your Business Website.

Determine the Best Functionality

Based on the objectives of your website, decide what functionality and online tools you want to provide your target audience. In my line of work I often refer to these as the bells and whistles.

Examples of online tools include:

These are just a few examples of various online tools you can offer your customers. Whatever you decide to provide, it must fall in line the objectives of your website.

Now Put It on Paper (figuratively speaking...)

Now that you've fine-tuned your Website's objectives, the content has been collected, and you know which online tools to offer you need to consider drafting a functional spec and a creative brief document. This is more or less a simple excercise in planning so neither document has to be perfect.

The Functional Spec

The functional specification document should include statements outlining the purpose and objectives of your proposed new website. It should outline the various tools you wish to provide your target audience. And it should clearly illustrate how you want each tool to function.

If, for example, you list a search engine tool as part of the functional spec then you also need to spell-out how you want customers to use it. Ask yourself: where on the website will it be located? What will it look like? What search options will be available? How will the search results look and what will happen if a customer search produces no results at all.

Creative Brief

The creative brief is normally used by graphic design and advertising professionals to outline how an Ad, brochure, company logo or other creative product should look. Creative briefs are typically very detailed and often include information about the purpose of what is being designed and who it is being designed for.

In a similar fashion, your creative brief should once again outline the objectives of the new website, its target audience, and a detailed description of what you think the site should look like including, but not limited to, color, font styles, and logo and branding details. It’s also a good idea to list the bells and whistles that will be incorporated into the site, including a brief list of any online tools you’ll be providing to customers.

Putting it All Together

In this article, I’ve outline several key ideas that, when combined, can help you create a meaningful plan to simplify the process of redesigning your website. It is important to focus on your customers, your content and learn from past performance.

Copyright ©2005, Jeff Nolan & Nolan Interactive, Ltd. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.