The Ultimate Website Rebuild and Redesign Planning Checklist

Considering a website refresh, rebuild, and/or redesign? Below is a comprehensive website rebuild and/or redesign checklist with all the planning and preparation steps to take, information to collect, and requirements to put together in order to make it as smooth and as productive as possible, both for yourself and for your designer/developer.

Step 1 – Identify key stakeholders and their roles/responsibilities:

  • Organization leadership
  • Marketing people
  • Content writers
  • IT & engineering
  • Vendors
  • Internal users
  • Staff that will be supporting and managing the website

Step 2 – Marketing & strategy prep:

  • Identify key audiences and their goals
  • Identify key actions for each audience
  • Identify main traffic sources and journeys for each source and audience
  • Identify what mediums your website needs to be optimized for (e.g. organic search, sharing on social)

Step 3 – Technical prep:

  • Ensure you have access to the domain name registrar
  • Ensure you have access to DNS management for your domain
  • Ensure you have SSL certificate
  • Ensure you have access to your hosting
  • Ensure you identify who’s responsible for code deployment, backups, backend infrastructure and configuration
  • Ensure you identify who’s responsible for website updates, reviewing security alerts, managing user accounts and permissions 

Step 4 – Content prep:

  • Perform content audit and identify what content will be added, removed or modified
  • Identify what content needs to be migrated from the old site/system to the new one and what structure (e.g. content types, navigation, URLs) need to be preserved
  • Prepare copy for all pages ahead of time
  • Prepare imagery, icons and media files ahead of time

Step 5 – Project management prep:

  • Identify who will be the primary point of contact for your developer/designer
  • Identify who will be responsible for getting sign-offs from key stakeholders
  • Identify who will be responsible for content writing
  • Identify who will be responsible for testing and QA
  • Make a draft timeline with key milestones and people involved at each stage
  • Decide what is absolutely required and what is just a ‘nice to have’ and/or can be added later

Step 6 – Requirements prep (your developer/designed will need this info):

  • Decide what CMS/platform will be used
  • Prepare brand identity and/or guidelines (e.g. logo, brand colors, fonts, brand guide, style guide)
  • Prepare website examples for look and feel as well as for desired functionality an/or information architecture (e.g. content types, navigation, user journeys) 
  • Identify how many static pages (about, contact, terms and conditions, mission etc,) you will need and what they are
  • Identify what other content types will be needed (e.g. blog, news, reviews, case studies, events, interviews, etc.)
  • Identify key functional elements (e.g. contact us forms, integrations with event or email platforms, interactive elements such as interactive maps, animations, search and filter capabilities, comments system, user login etc.)
  • Identify what browsers and devices you’d need to support
  • Identify possible future enhancements event if you are not implementing them at the moment (e.g. ecommerce support, membership capabilities, potential integrations, donations)

When/if searching for freelance or volunteer designers & developers:

  • Make sure you use the right project type (e.g. Website Set Up, Website SUtom Build, Flexible Web Development Support, Website Minor Update, Website Visual Design, Website Major Update etc.)
  • Make sure to include the following in the project description: what platform/CMS will be used, key requirements, what you already have (content, images, brand identity, sitemap, wireframes etc.), what kind of pages need to be created and how many, what additional functionality will be required (integrations, interactive elements, forms, search/filters, other elements that “do things”), additional requirements (mobile support, accessibility, basic SEO, speed) if any.
  • When choosing a candidate, it’s better to opt for an agency (if possible) or for a skilled developer/designer with a few years of experience and/or a good portfolio. 

Step 7 – Design prep:

  • Come up with some moodboards and/or design examples
  • Put together brand guidelines
  • Decide if you need a custom design or a template

When/if choosing a template or theme:

  • Ensure that your theme is capable of supporting the UX (e.g. has necessary page and design elements) functionality (e.g. supports ecommerce, page builders, compatible with certain plugins) you need now and in the future
  • Ensure your theme is widely used, well supported, has regular updates and good rankings
  • If possible, opt for a theme backed/developed/sponsored by a reputable company
  • Ensure your theme is fast and optimized for page loading times
  • Ensure your theme is mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Ensure your theme is SEO friendly

Step 8 – Additional requirements to consider:

  • SMTP email configuration (to ensure your site is capable of sending email such as email notifications using the email of your choice)
  • Basic SEO optimization (additional plugins may need to be installed and configured, content optimized for SEO)
  • Accessibility optimization and/or compliance (if you need this – make sure you bring this up earlier in the process)
  • Website performance and loading speed optimization (additional plugins may need to be installed and configured)
  • Website security (additional plugins may need to be installed and configured)
  • Website carbon footprint and energy efficiency optimization
  • Post-launch training for staff on technical maintenance (updates, security, troubleshooting, 3rd party accounts) and content management (adding and/or editing content)
  • Enabling & configuration of tracking and analytics solutions

Website rebuild and/or redesign checklist: final thoughts and considerations

  • Advanced SEO may need to be its own job done by a SEO professional
  • Advanced page speed optimization may need to be its own job done by a skilled web developer
  • Design, information architecture and web development can be done by 1 person or by 3 different people (1 specialist for each area)
  • You may need to find and engage a copywriter for content creation
  • You may need to find and engage SEM or SMM (social media marketer) or a generalist marketer for marketing purposes
  • You may need to find and engage a lawyer for “Terms and Conditions” and “Privacy policy” pages 
  • You may need to register your brand name/trademark
  • Make sure you only use resources (e.g. fonts, images) you purchased or those marked as free for commercial and/or non-commercial purposes
  • You may want to use an online collaboration tool like https://trello.com/ to organise and streamline your work and collaboration processes (email is not the best tool for these purposes). 

Good luck with your project! And feel free to reach out if you need any further help and guidance.

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