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Make sure that your redesign
project starts on the right foot and
solves the right problems
Define the Project
Goals should be concrete, not
vague. For example, a project goal
might be to decrease total calls to
the Help Desk by 30% or increase the
number of users who say they are
“fully satisfied” with the website from
25% to 45% in the next 6 months.
Your redesign goals may be based
on formal user feedback like an
online survey, or management
directives, or internal group goals for
continuous product improvement.
Is new functionality needed to
support your redesign goals?
Because that decision will affect how
the site looks, how it’s structured, and
how it’s programmed, desired
functionality has to be fully described
at the beginning.
Functionality requirements include
things like "user must be able to find
a record based on a part number" or
“if logged into the domain, user must
be automatically recognized" or "it
has to support record searches from
Websites are redesigned because of
underperformance or a perceived flaw. How will
a redesign correct the problem? What will the
goals for the redesigned website be?
Define success. Decide beforehand
how you’ll know you've been
successful in meeting your redesign
goals. Set objective measures for
success like numerical targets and
What’s the schedule? Agree on
when the new site has to be live.
Who's on the Project Team and
what are their responsibilities?
Identify project manager, content
provider, programmer, visual
designer, information architect.
Who’s Doing What?
WHY are they coming?
No one is coming to your website for
fun or to “surf.” They’re coming for a
specific purpose. Your job is to
identify all of the possible reasons
that your audience members might
want to use your site.
WHO is using your website?
There will likely be a spectrum of
groups who are using your website. A
typical selection might include
internal staff, external program
managers, scientific collaborators, or
prospective hires. Plan to
accommodate each one of them.
WHAT are they trying to do?
Each user who comes to your website
is attempting to complete a task.
What is it? By making a chart or list
of each audience group, their
motivation for coming, and a
complete list of possible tasks, you
can design your site to satisfy their
Each member of your
website’s audience has a
different reason for visiting
Identify what motivates
them to be a site user.
By making a chart or list of
each audience group and a
complete list of possible
tasks, you can design your
site to satisfy their needs.
Potential New User Existing User Department Staff
Find a contact X X X
Unserstand types of research that
synchrotrons enable X
Schedule beam time X
Check facility status X X
Check proposal deadline dates X X X
Review User Statistics X
Review, locate Publications X X
Locate reference documents X X
Check lecture schedules X
Review employment opportunities X
Based on the content to be offered,
and the audiences and site goals
identified, create a logical structure
for the site that makes navigation
and task completion as simple and
clear as possible. Think of this step as
creating the various "buckets" into
which all of the site's content will be
A complete map of the site is
generated and each page is reviewed
to determine whether the content on
that page should be retained,
updated or discarded. At the end of
that review, look at where the gaps
are. What's missing that needs to be
added in order for your site's goal to
If the content audit uncovered
sections of the site where outdated
content needs to be updated or if it
identified gaps where new content
needs to be written from scratch, this
is the point at which both of those
things will be done. It's important to
note that only the subject matter
experts for the site can complete the
creation of new content; work on the
site can't continue until they've made
their contributions. New content may
include edited text, new text, or new
photos, illustrations and video.
You have to know what you already
have on hand before deciding on what
you need next.
Site maps make the existing structure
clear to everyone
Based on feedback collected during
the client interview and the content
assembled in subsequent steps, a
draft site is constructed on a
development server. The draft site is
used to complete a "test drive" where
any necessary adjustments are
identified. Some sites will warrant
usability testing at this stage in which
people are observed using the draft
site and difficulties in use noted.
The analysis of audience tasks will
inform decisions about dynamic
elements required for the site.
Custom programming involving
database construction and interactive
forms will begin at this point.
Depending on the impact that re-launching
your website may have,
some arrangements for
communicating the change in
advance might be necessary, or you
may simply wish to make a
notification that the launch has
occurred in order to promote the
new site. When your organization's
decision maker has officially
approved the site, you're ready to go
Wireframes allow rapid evaluation of
design variations. They avoid wasting
time physically building less successful
Bear in mind…
Without an explicit plan, it’s very unlikely
that your website redesign project will be
Your plan must consider your audience, and what
you want to help them do online.
Know what’s wrong with your existing site and
how proposed changes are going to fix it.
Have clear project requirements. Your technical
staff must have an explicit list of what features the
site must contain and what information it must
Know what constitutes “success” for your project.