Redesigning a Website is Like Building a House
If we said to you ‘redesigning your e-commerce site is like building a house’, you might think we’re crazy. But hear us out. This is an analogy we often employ here at Elevate Studios — it helps our clients understand the scope of what goes into a redesign project.
As a result, we can effectively set accurate expectations with clients about what the website redesign process should look like. Specifically, we’ll explain why some level of customization is so critical to building out a site that aligns with your business and brand requirements.
When building a new house, everyone will at some stage need to consider the overall process as well as the scope. It is much the same when it comes to a website overhaul.
How The Website Redesign Process Is Like Building A House
Ideation, Discussions & Strategizing
Before starting construction on your new home, you would first enter discussions with your architect. You would most likely explain to them how you intend to use your home, as well as detail any specific ideas, wants, or needs that need to be incorporated into the design.
If we translate this stage over into web design, this mirrors the website strategy discussion stage. Here you should work closely with your design and development agency to agree your overall aims for your site, how you want it to work and look, and any unique needs, wants, or unusual ideas you want to see come to life.
Drawing up the Blueprints
Once you’ve settled on a vision for your home, your architect will draw up the detailed blueprints for the design. In much the same way, your design and development agency will produce a UX wireframe for your site. This is essentially a conceptual plan for how every page will fit together, as well as a visual outline for what each page looks like. Much like an architectural blueprint, these wireframes will guide the rest of the design process.
When you’re happy with the detailed blueprint of the house you’re going to build, you’ve then got to start thinking about the finishes, the furnishings, and the fittings. Similarly, after the UX wireframing is complete, you’ll need to think about the visual design of your site. This will involve making decisions about the layouts of pages, which fonts you’ll be using, the color palette, and what kind of images you want to use.
When all the details have been finalized, you can finally go ahead and start construction. At this stage, rather than contracting builders, your development agency will get to work programming the site, setting up the platform and bringing your vision to life.
Your house isn’t going to be ready to move into straightaway, and the same goes for your e-commerce site. In building your house, you’ll likely have a “punch list,” or the collection of items that need to be finished before you can move in. For a site redesign, it’s imperative to take the time to add finishing touches, tweak copy and imagery that’s not quite right, and QA test all of the new features to ensure everything is working how it should — not to mention get your site ready to sell with site merchandising. This is what we refer to as preparing for launch.
Building Your Website’s “Base Model” or Must Haves
When it comes to building a house, there are definitely basic must-have features that nobody can go without. Think about a working kitchen or bathroom, for example. These integral features make up a ‘base model’ onto which you can add all your bells and whistles.
E-commerce sites are just the same. Every single e-commerce site starts off as a ‘base model’ that includes all the functionality needed to make it into what we know as an e-commerce platform:
- Product listings & detail pages
- Payment & checkout processes
- Site merchandising (allowing you to add your products and update their information)
- Inventory management (potentially connecting to your financials)
- Transactional emails for purchases
- Analytics & measurements
Without these foundational features, your e-commerce site won’t meet basic expectations or be able to handle key workflows.
Customizing Your Build
Once you’re happy with the base model, it’s time to think about customization. This looks different for everyone because at the end of the day, your personal vision is what will make a house into your home.
From a web design perspective, it’s imperative to think about your customers, key conversion funnels, and how you’re going to best market your product.
Though design and feature customization isn’t by any means necessary, these are critical for improving user experience, elevating your site, and showcasing your brand in the best way possible. This is what moves your site from being generic to being unique and effectively branded.
Examples of custom design and function elements include:
- Product comparison tools, allowing your customers to compare details and choose between several of your products.
- Ratings and reviews, showcasing your customers’ positive experiences with your service or products.
- Loyalty program for frequent buyers, helping you to reward your most loyal customers.
- Email marketing to streamline communications with your customers and guide them through their user journey.
- Integration or plugin customization to ensure your site connects with the complex systems that run your business.
Don’t Just Build a House, Build a Home
An e-commerce site redesign shouldn’t be a heartless transaction or a passionless process. Injecting your brand’s identity into your site requires an understanding of your wants and needs, and your big-level vision for what your website will do for you. Working with a unified design and development agency like Elevate means bringing on a dedicated team that will invest in your website redesign from start to finish, helping to build you a site that you feel at home with.