When your organization is planning a digital transformation, your website is the headlining act. Rethinking the technology and strategies that best support your message going forward requires time, effort, and a significant investment. If you don’t manage the effort to revamp your site correctly, all the work supporting that transformation will be in jeopardy.
Your digital transformation effort may incorporate re-platforming or even a full rebuild of your tech stack to support a new website. Or, maybe redeveloping the frontend experience of your site to work more effectively with your existing technology is the only requirement. Whatever the case, you must ensure the last stage of your digital transformation properly supports your organization and its new strategy. Rebuilding an established website like yours offers an exciting opportunity—but it comes with a significant level of risk. Identifying the potential pitfalls ahead will keep your transformation initiative on track.
4 Challenges Faced by Every Successful Website Relaunch
A website is your organization’s most powerful tool for connecting with its audience. As high as the stakes may feel for someone in charge of managing that site’s success, you shouldn’t feel as if every complex project is doomed to delays and budget overruns.
By working with the right development partner, you can navigate the common trouble spots listed below to complete a successful digital transformation.
1.Missing Website Requirements that Support Your Organization’s Goals
Websites grow and expand organically over time. If your organization has been working with the same design and technical parameters for several years, you can easily overlook essential features that need to be retained. If these details aren’t discovered and documented from the beginning, your project may face scheduling delays and costly changes that impact your budget.
When you’re working with the right development agency partner, you and your team will go through a detailed discovery process to inventory these details. However, you need to ensure all the right stakeholders in your organization are on hand to outline your organization’s website requirements. That way, you prevent last-minute surprises when another business unit introduces a crucial new detail.
With especially old site architecture, the people who built or maintained key parts of your site may be long gone. Ideally, your organization will have documentation in place outlining the reasoning behind certain site features, API connections, or other functionality. But in the absence of thorough documentation, you and your development partner need to tease out your site’s needs. You may recognize your site is complex, but a deep discovery process will inventory all your site’s details. Then, you can make a comprehensive plan for migrating the features from your current site that your organization needs to be successful.
2.Poor Roll-out Planning for the Rebuilt Site
Launching a fully revamped site with a flip of a switch is an exciting way to cap a digital transformation. But big launches that burn the bridge behind you also introduce unnecessary risks to your brand and your project.
The bigger your release, the more likely you are to have problems with your new site. Smaller, more frequent releases minimize the threat of introducing bugs and other busted functionality missed at the QA stage. Plus, releasing incremental improvements enables you to learn about your site and its tech stack and streamline every update going forward.
The most successful website rebuilds are completed gradually, with a rollback plan for each step. At Lincoln Loop, we work with large-scale digital publishers and higher education institutions. The ability to scale their sites is a big concern. When you roll out your new site in bits and pieces, you can better identify how it handles traffic spikes in the real world.
You should approach a new website like opening a restaurant. Typically, restaurant owners open within the neighborhood, serve customers, and then schedule a grand opening a month later. You have to leave room to work out the kinks to secure a successful launch.
3.Scope Creep Impacting a Website Project’s Schedule and Budget
Gathering input from your stakeholders is a vital part of any website project. However, as the rebuild progresses, everyone involved throws their own wish list into the production backlog. Accepting every request is a sure-fire way to end up over budget and behind schedule with your new site.
Your development partner can only play the bad cop so often during your project. Your project needs a leader who effectively prioritizes your website’s needs and remains disciplined about your deadlines. You need to get used to saying “no” — or, better still, “not yet.”
After all, every change you make to your requirements becomes a new variable that can grow exponentially. Ideally, your goal should be to get your website onto a new system and ensure it runs well. Then, you can add new features to the platform. Don’t think of your website as a finished product. Think of it as software that’s a constant work in progress.
When you’re dealing with a big-budget website rebuild, adding a few more hours of work to a 1,500-hour project may not seem like a big deal. But every detail adds up. If you reach the end of the project and find dozens of hours left over, then you and your agency partner can go through your wish list and add features. But in our experience, you want to keep those in your back pocket to handle any surprises that happen along the way.
4.Lacking a 360-View of a Website Rebuild
As the manager of your organization’s website, you have to view a rebuild project from all angles. But seeing every detail of how sweeping changes to your site’s design and architecture will impact users is nearly impossible.
You need an additional outside perspective to identify every potential pitfall before it happens. A website rebuild is full of questions:
- How can you be sure you’re not breaking your site’s functionality for users?
- If your project includes a new publishing system, do your editors know how to use it?
- How will your rebuilt site impact your SEO?
- Will all your old URLs be properly redirected?
- What is the process for migrating site data from your old system?
- Does the new site perform as expected?
The list goes on and on, and you need someone in your corner. At Lincoln Loop, we’ve navigated the above challenges to rebuild complex websites for organizations like yours. Any website project involves risk, but the rewards for your organization are transformative. Let’s talk about how to get started.