The Rollercoaster of Large Scale Website Redesigns

The idea of taking on a site redesign, especially for a large-scale site (e-commerce or publishing) can feel like an overwhelming challenge. More often than not, large sites are near the point of breaking before there is a commitment to make a change, just because of all the pieces that are involved.

If you’ve felt anxiety about “breaking” the site and it’s kept you on a site longer than you might have liked, take heart, you aren’t alone.

It’s very common to deal with a range of emotion when you set out to make significant changes to a big site; excitement, anxiety, uncertainty, and at the end elation.

Excitement/Wonder

When a project kicks off, everyone is full energy and excitement. Your team has great ideas you’ve been thinking about for months. Designers will have stacks of plans for your site to breathe new life into it. There will be a ton of collaboration going on right now.

(Remember this feeling, it’s going to be important a bit later)

Confusion

As the project progresses, inevitably there will be moments that leave everybody puzzled – briefly.

That’s OK.

The design and aesthetic of a site are subjective. It is art after all, and art means something different to everyone. To think you’ll have consensus at every step of the way is setting yourself up for frustration. This is the time to remember that excitement from the kickoff. There are still a ton of great ideas being poured into the new site. As long as everyone focuses on the end goal, some disagreements can bring out some of the best work.

Disconnect

When the design pieces have all been signed off as final, there is a natural tendency to let up. It can feel like the biggest pieces are behind you. Be careful.

The first leg of the journey is definitely complete, but you can’t stop climbing now and still make the summit.

Your design partners need you engaged here just as much as during the design phase though. This is where all that functionality you’ve been dreaming about starts to come to life.

Here’s a good time to talk about an inevitability in a site project – scope creep. Scope creep is that little gremlin that starts to push the site further away from the original plans. Understand from the very beginning – this will happen.

Going into this stage with that perspective makes it easier to manage these changes together, effectively. A site is a living, evolving project. As your new site goes from wishes to reality, the possibilities for the site start to feel almost limitless.

If there is ever a time a site redesign project gets frustrating, this is when it’s going to happen.

What usually happens is a sudden moment of clarity. A particular page, or part of a page, needs to have a new feature added. This is going to be “killer” and it feels launch critical.

Your development partner will slow down and explain how this impacts the project. It may mean more hours of development time or it could impact some features that are already planned.  Rely on one another to find the right solution.

Satisfaction and Joy

When launch day approaches, that sense of excitement will be coming back. It will have taken a lot to get there, but this is a big project.

Be excited!

The payoff that comes from seeing all that hard work come to life as a new website is well worth the journey to get there.