There are many reasons to implement a new web experience, and they don’t all relate to a bad design. It could be that your messaging and brand have changed, and you need to update your website to reflect those changes. Other times you realize you haven’t updated your web experience in years, and it’s just time for a refresh. And sometimes your web CMS isn’t providing the functionality or ease of use you need to implement new content or features.
Whatever is driving the need to implement a new website experience, there are several ways you can approach your project, each with a set of advantages and disadvantages that you should carefully consider before moving forward. At Ingeniux, we’ve worked with customers who have implemented a new website following one of four approaches:
The implementation option you choose depends on exactly what the project entails, what skills you have in-house in terms of design, development and CMS knowledge, your budget, whether you need a new CMS, or are updating the current one to a new version, and more.
A Redesign Does Not Have to Mean A New CMS
Before you get into the specifics of your website redesign project, the first thing you should understand is that a redesign does not necessarily mean you need a new web CMS. All too often, an organization decides it needs to refresh its web experience and starts off the process by looking at new content management systems.
Before you even think about technology, it’s important to do a discovery phase where you spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve with a redesign. Make a list of your high-level goals, and then break those goals down into a list of high-level requirements.
We often liken this the decision to build or buy a new house. You don’t just go out and buy a house, and you don’t just go and hire a contractor and tell them to build you a house. You think about things like the location of the house and what it needs to have. It’s only after you have that information that you decide to build or buy and what the house needs to look like.
The same process works when you redesign your website. What does that website need to look like? What does it need to do, and what do your authors, contributors, reviewers, and web managers need to create, manage, and deliver great content experiences? Once you have those requirements understood, you can logically look at the technology you have in place today to decide if:
- It's enough as is
- You need to make some changes to how you use it
- You like it but need to upgrade to a newer version to get some new features and functionality
- It won’t support your requirements, and it’s time to get a new CMS
Four Implementation Approaches
I mentioned the implementation approaches above. Now let’s look a little closer at each one. I’ll provide more insight into the advantages and disadvantages of each approach in a series of follow up blogs, so be sure to watch for those.
Outsource to the Vendor
When you outsource the website redesign project to the web CMS vendor, they are responsible for all parts of the project, from supporting the brand/messaging redesign to gathering detailed requirements, building the design and development specifications, implementing the CMS, testing, and so on.
Your organization does play key roles in the project, but you give responsibility for ensuring success to the vendor. This doesn’t have to be a project that implements a brand-new CMS; it could be upgrading the design and features on the current CMS or upgrading to the latest version of the current CMS.
The benefit of this approach is that the vendor understands their technology intimately and understands what it can and cannot do. The right vendor will be upfront and honest if something you want doesn’t make sense or work in the CMS the way you expect.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Some organizations choose to go the route of doing the entire redesign project in-house. Typically, these are organizations that have a strong development team as well as designers. In this approach, the development team understands how to work with the CMS already, or they get trained to work with the CMS before they start developing the new website.
There is a word of caution to note here. If your organization does not have a strong development team and process, reconsider going this route. According to VOCalis Voice of Customer survey from Digital Clarity Group, organizations that use in-house teams to implement technology have the highest failure rates.
In a blog that discusses the survey results, Scott Liewehr wrote, “Rather than setting the implementation up for failure, why not recognize the extremely critical role that the internal IT team must play in order achieve successful outcomes? In-house IT must partner with the outside agency to bring organization-specific technology and process information into the fold, but they should lean on the experts for the rest.”
Outsource to Third-Party
When an organization doesn’t want to do the redesign themselves, they will look to a third-party systems integrator to do it for them. The systems integrator usually has experience with a given CMS or set of content management systems, which means if there is a need to acquire and implement a new CMS, the integrator will usually promote the systems their team knows best. The integrator also will either have a design team in-house or will outsource the design work to a partner agency.
Again, the organization is involved in the project, but the responsibility to ensure a successful redesign lies with the integrator.
A third-party partner can help you build the right web experience if they leverage data-driven insights.
The final approach is one that happens often. The organization chooses to partner with the vendor or a systems integrator to do the redesign. In this case, the organization often manages (or co-manages) the project from start to finish and involves their designers and developers to work with the vendor’s or integrator's team.
Whether you co-develop or outsource to a systems integrator/design partner, it’s important to involve people in your organization throughout the process. According to Cathy McKnight, VP Strategy at the Content Advisory, “The CMS is an enterprise-wide tool. When you are doing primary internal research, you need to talk to everyone, not just the marketing team. Ask people across the organization in different departments what they need to help you layout the requirements for your CMS.”
Which Should You Choose?
Those are the four different website redesign approaches. Which one you choose will depend on your goals, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Watch for more detailed descriptions of each approach in upcoming posts.