In my day job, I was given the chance to redesign the organization’s website, which was a 500+ page undertaking with a variety of functions including job boards, directories, classifieds, event posting and more.
It was a six-month sprint to get everything together and there were definitely some powerful lessons learned. So I thought I’d share them.
It’s easy to lose sight of what your website is supposed to do. There is so much other “stuff” you can include — and all of it seems important the moment you lose sight of your one true goal and your one ideal audience.
But you will get better results if you stick to your guns. Remember that online, your “narrow” or “targeted” audience can still number in the thousands. And other peripheral audiences will catch on.
When it comes to “Should this item go here? Or here?” ask yourself if it plays into your true goal. If it doesn’t, identify a less prominent place for it.
2. Always ask for a second opinion. Or a third.
Perspective varies from person to person, and sometimes you can be so wrapped into the project you’ll never see the gaping holes that are obvious to someone else.
Take times periodically to show your site to others. Welcome feedback with an open mind. It will make your end product stronger.
3. Organization matters. Consistency matters.
Map out your structure before you start. Develop your content and have your photos and media ready to go. Name your pages by the same pattern. Replicate information where needed.
Take the extra few moments to build up your SEO keywords and name your image files with keywords too. Building your website on a strong, organized foundation will make updates and upgrades far easier.
4. When you get stuck, Google is your best friend.
If it took me more than three attempts or more than five minutes to figure something out, I turned to Google. I could always find a forum or support blog with the answers. If I really couldn’t find it, I contacted the developers or help team. There is usually a work-around or a better plugin.
5. In the last homestretch, stick to your goals.
As you near the very end, it might be simple to cut corners or compromise to make something fit. But hold fast to your purpose and your site will be better for it.
If you are working with a developer, talk about these steps. Website messes can be a rat’s nest to untangle and could cost you far more in the long run.