Kicking Off a Website Re-Design: The Step-by-Step Breakdown

The Elevate Team
The Elevate Team

It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when it comes to redesigning your e-commerce site. With big ideas and exciting concepts, it’s understandable if you want to dig right into the design and development process. However, if you want to do justice to your brand and do everything possible to ensure the success of your new site, you’ll need to pace yourself.

Though every website redesign looks a little different, there are roughly four stages in the process: discovery, design, development, and finally, the launch. (Not to mention ongoing optimizations once the site is out in the world).

On paper these four steps may look simple, but you might be surprised to find the actual timeline for a large-scale redesign spans eight to ten months (sometimes even longer!). In this article, we cover the first stage — how to kick off the process with a discovery phase — and look at what you’ll need to do to set yourself up for success.

What is Your Vision for Your Site?

Before you even think about the technical aspects of development or what the site should look like, you need to consider your long-term vision for the site. This is called the discovery phase.

Identifying your key goals for your site is critical because this will inform every single decision you make from this point onwards. Given the complex nature of an e-commerce site, there are business and marketing considerations, as well as logistical and financial planning questions to take into account. And don’t forget about the visitors to your site. Identifying their needs and goals will make sure you’re building a site they will want to use.

Here are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself:

  • From a business perspective, what is the overarching aim of the site?

    You need to clearly define what exactly your site should achieve. Are you looking to drive sales or conversions? Or to provide a service to your customers? What is the fundamental business goal of your site? Defining your measure of success (your KPIs) at the outset is not only important for shaping your redesign but monitoring its progress and ensuring you stay on track throughout.

  • How will your new site fit into your overall marketing strategy?

    Your e-commerce site is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It’s not only the primary platform that your customers can use to purchase your products, but also leads their interaction with your brand and any perceptions they build. You need to consider how to promote the products on your site, think about how external advertising will drive traffic to the site, and how your new site will support your overall marketing efforts.

    You also need to extrapolate your marketing needs and look ahead to post-launch. Consider whether you have the resources or expertise in place to produce the creative you need to drive traffic to your site. In addition, you need to decide whether you’re also going to need creative and design support moving forward, to keep your site looking and performing its best at all times. These questions will help you determine what kind of external help and support you’re going to need.

  • What specific technology needs do you have?

    Finally, you need to gain a good understanding of your technology situation and needs. This includes factors such as your existing technology infrastructure, where your site is currently hosted, and whether you’re tied to a specific platform. You’ll need to think about whether there are certain logistics at play that need to remain consistent, or whether you have crucial third-party integrations that need to be accommodated.

    If you have an in-house technology team, you need to assess whether they have the bandwidth and capability to carry out your redesign. If not, you’ll need to start your search for an external agency.

  • What is your budget?

    For many businesses, this will be one of the most important questions. Have your finance team run historical data along with revenue projections. Once you know your technical requirements, determine which e-commerce platform you’ll need to use (which has a direct impact on the total cost of a redesign). Be sure to consider costs to create assets to merchandise your site for launch. You need to look at your finances and determine how much you’re able to invest in your redesign. If you’re unsure about how much you can or should be looking to spend, a good agency can help determine an appropriate spend level. you may want to consult with an agency.

What & Who Do You Need to Realize Your Vision?

Once you’ve gathered all the answers to the questions above, you’re ready to think about who and what you need to make your vision a reality. The two biggest decisions here are:

  • What type of firm would best fit your needs: A design firm, a development firm, or an agency that provides turnkey site builds?
  • Who is the right firm for you?

Additionally, you need to identify the internal teams that will oversee the project. Who are key stakeholders? Who will be the boots on the ground collaborating with your agency in the day to day? And who is accountable internally for the site launching according to your schedule and scope?

How to Decide What Kind of Agency You Need

If you have an in-house technology team at your disposal, you may only need to enlist a design agency to take care of your creative needs. That being said, if your in-house developers don’t have the bandwidth or don’t have the expertise necessary to execute your vision, you still may need to consult an external development team, or head to a unified design and development agency.

Opting for a full-service design, development and marketing agency that can cover all bases gives you the best of both worlds. Instead of tackling just one aspect of your website redesign, a design and development agency like Elevate can cater to all the steps in the process.. So instead of carrying out your redesign with a siloed and compartmentalized approach, an agency like Elevate will look at site overhauls holistically, and as one part of a business’ overall marketing strategy.

Once you’ve gotten past the discovery stage, you’ve completed just the first step of your website relaunch. Now it’s time to turn your sights to the design stage.

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