Zachary J Baehr

When a content redesign is the better approach to improving your website

A website CONTENT redesign can be more effective, more impactive and less costly than a wholesale redesign of your website. In this situation, I’m mostly talking about organizations that produce a fair amount of news, announcements and updates (like schools!).

A website redesign by itself does not:

  • Solve content issues
  • Create more content
  • Does not make you better at communications
  • Create more time for staff to create and upload content

Actually building a website, whether inhouse or by an outside company, is one of the last things to actually occur in the website re-design process. Furthermore, exploring design options and companies is right before that, also far from the beginning of the process. 

If we can back-up a ways, you need to know what your organization is capable of in terms of updating the type of content that appears on your website. Don’t assign duties to someone unless you are also adding time and money, or unless you are removing a chunk of their current items from their task list. Don’t rely on the principal doing the work, or a school volunteer. People’s time and priorities change, but your website’s value has only become more important in the last decade.

Even before you consider staff assignments … do you know what your audience wants? For schools, ask your parents what types of information they need, and what types they want, and how well they feel you are doing with those two areas. Then you can get a feel for what changes might be possible and how much work they will take. You may have a great idea that no one suggests. That means they a) want a faster horse because they don’t know what a car is (try building and testing with a focus group); or b) don’t want it (shelve it for now). You get to decide.

A third-party website design company can not tell you these answers! They do not have all the tools you need, or the perfect template for you. Some of these companies have a profit model that ONLY works when they convince customers to fit into their templates. It’s easy for them; not great for you. This isn’t an evil plan, as long as you understand.

It is entirely possible a ‘content redesign’ is actually a much simpler process that involves moving existing content: home page vs. inside page, before scroll vs. after scroll, link in list vs. link in navigation, featured vs. buried. If you realize this early in the process, you can save yourself A LOT of time and money. You might also find ways to automate tasks, such as the school calendar and menu.

Website re-designs and launches are an extensive (and sometimes expensive) process. Don’t do it until after you have talked to your audience, and have determined how the content will get published. In short, would a content redesign accomplish your goals?

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