Eloquently put! Well done. I wish I could write like you, Erin. =)
Internal vs. External :: Website Redesign
Website redesigns are special, to be kept separate from designing and developing websites from the ground up. Internal redesigns are even more unique—sticking to tradition makes moving forward as slow as molasses.
New companies without a website are easier to please and meet expectations. Delivering a product that is satisfactory, both aesthetically and functionally, has less to be held up against. Established companies with an existing online presence, however, are comfortable. Their familiarity with the site and the design can turn into a white knuckled grip on complacency. Regardless of how successful their website sells their business and whether or not it markets them in the appropriate manner, they are hesitant to change. And rightfully so—change can be daunting.
What’s unfortunate is many times the establish company really needs to update their site design and functionality. It is safe to say that all companies try to save money and most of the time keeping things internal is the way to go. However, when it comes to corporate stagnation and the need for re–evaluation, external sources can be of significant advantage.
Things to consider when redesigning:
- Initial Evaluation
- Using descriptive words, paint a picture of the company and what it stands for. (High energy, exceptional quality, high-end, contemporary, classic, eclectic, etc.)
- Now, ask 10 - 20 people who are *not* affiliated with the company in any way (even better if they've never even heard of it) and show them the website. Ask them to describe the website, all content aside.
- Do the company's descriptions match the user's?
- Ask Questions
- Does the current site align with the corporate identity and branding?
- What is the company's desired image and/or goal?
- Does the current site portray and project the desired image?
- How does it compare to competitors?
- What are the primary goals of the company? How does the current site uphold those? Or does it?
- How can a redesign help the company accomplish it's goals?
- How are the products/services different from competitors? How is the company unique? What makes it so?
- Does the current site reach or target the desired audience? (Gender, age, ethnicity, education & income levels, etc.)
- Prioritize Resources
When considering utilizing internal vs. external resources, evaluate the priorities, budget and use of time.
- What is most important? (Corporate image, cost, user experience, information, etc.)
- Is redesigning the current site something that is within the job descriptions of the internal individuals?
- Would internal resources be best spent on a site redesign, or better spent ... where?
- Do internal resources have the perspective and knowledge in order to push the company to the next level?
- What is the cost when comparing internal hours (subtracting the potential work on projects) to hiring an external source?
Individuals working in house have preconceived ideas and conceptions about the company. The difficulty lies in making judgments without bias. When standing inside the circle, perception is skewed and limits vision. It’s all relative! Utilizing an external resource brings in a broader perspective and the ability to focus time and effort on one goal, aiding the ability to work quickly and efficiently—an important component when trying to take a company to the next level.
Learn more about the author, Erin Pierce.
Comment on this article
Posted by Brandi L Pierce, Lynnwood, Washington |
May 24, 2008
Posted by Judy Dunn, Seattle, Washington |
May 27, 2008
I really like the probing questions here, Erin. Some web designers are so focused on the look of the site and the technical user issues that the the mission and goal of the site get lost.
Sometimes it takes stepping outside the "company circle" to get this kind of perspective. And, yes, an outside consultant can help you do that.
Well done and helpful.
Posted by andrea styner, vashon, Washington |
Jun 05, 2008
Being that i'm in the daunting process of redesigning my website.......your article was not only timely, but very helpful in reminding me to untangle myself from the process for a moment by stepping back and remembering to breathe!! I also found that asking outside opinions was a 'gem' of an idea. Thanks!
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