5 Things to Consider When Executing a Website Rebuild

You’ve decided it’s time to rebuild your website. Research has been done, conversion rates have been analyzed, the team has selected a rebuild over a focused fix, and you and your team are committed to making this happen. One of the easiest ways of ensuring your success is to remain mindful of a few key things as you work your way through this larger process.

Regarding that term, “mindful:” one of the Kanopi team’s favorite authors is Brené Brown. She writes, “Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings so that we are not caught up and swept away by negativity.” For the purposes of your website rebuild, I’d adapt this to be, “Mindfulness requires that we not “over-focus” on what we’ve done before, and rather remain aware of what’s important for our success so that we can focus on where we want to be.”

So, let’s get to it and break down what the top five things we need to be mindful of when executing a rebuild project.

1. YOU are the difference! Be engaged.

Stakeholder engagement can make or break a rebuild. But rebuilds are time-consuming, and you and your stakeholders will likely be pulled in several directions as you try to execute a rebuild while balancing other priorities and projects.

Your availability, open communication, and timely feedback is critical to enable your team to create the web presence your organization needs to reach its goals. Be realistic in what time your team can devote to the project so you can be as fully engaged as possible. Define roles and responsibilities early as well so it’s clear who is handling what.

If you need an assist from an outside agency to keep the project moving quicker, be direct with them about your business needs and wants. Help them to understand your users and audiences. An agency will make every effort to dive deeply into understanding your market, but at the end of the day, you and your team are the experts on what you do. So view any outside agency as a partner who can work with you towards success, and stay engaged with them throughout the process.

2. Define success & track it

We cannot know if we’re successful until we have identified what success will look like. For some sites, it’s simply exposure. For others, it’s a need to meet specific goals. Take the time to define what your organization needs to achieve, and which key metrics will allow us to quantify success.

Not sure where to start? Here are common metrics should you benchmark now as you prepare for the rebuild:

  • Users: note how many users are regularly coming to your site
  • Bounce Rate: record the overall bounce rate. Make note if this is at, above or below your industry’s standard.
  • Average Session Duration: how long are users staying on your page?
  • Sessions by Channel: where are your users coming from? How much organic traffic is coming in?
  • Top Keywords: identify what words are being used in the search engines when users are finding you. Are these surprising?
  • Competitor Keywords: are users who are looking at your competitors using the same keywords?
  • Top Referrers: who is sending traffic to your site? Maybe social media is key, or you’re more focused on industry referrals. Determine where you should be in the market.
  • Conversion Rates: what forms do you need users to fill out? What conversions are critical to your business goals? These can take the form of contact or forms from your CRM tools such as Marketo or Pardot, or even visits to a specific page or video views.   
  • Accessibility: does your site meet national or international compliance standards?

In short, benchmark where you are now, and use this data to help round out that definition of success. Then come back a few months after launch to reevaluate and compare so you can quantify the success to your stakeholders.

3. Get your content strategy in order

The old saying “Content is King” is truer today than ever. Users are more educated. Search engines have become smarter, looking for more than keywords — they look for meaning in phrases to help determine the focus of a given page.

As one of the most effective methods of growing audience engagement, developing your brand presence, and driving sales, content marketing is a mission-critical growth method for most businesses. — Hubspot

This is where most people turn to me and tell me they’ll get their team on it so they can move further along in the content process. But don’t underestimate the time and energy content development/aggregation can take, even if your larger project is hiring a copywriter to augment your team. All too often, when content becomes a late-stage endeavor a few things happen:

  • timelines get pushed out, waiting for content to be approved.
  • changes to the previous UX are often required to account for unrealized navigation or calls to action, causing potential budget overages.
  • content is rushed and not in alignment with the overall vision.

To help this process come together for your team, here are a few action items to start with:

  • Audit your content: take a full inventory of your site’s content to better identify:
    • what to keep
    • what to repurpose
      • for example: the video may look dated, but could your team could write a blog post from that material?
    • what should not be migrated to your new site
      • this can be archived to be referenced at a later date
  • Build a sitemap: determine the hierarchy of the content on the new site.
  • Identify missing content: comparing your audit to your sitemap, what needs to be produced?
  • Track content creation: track who is responsible for writing, editing and approving content — and give them deadlines
  • Start thinking ahead: you may need to start planning future content. Developing an editorial calendar will help keep the process moving. Content typically included in an editorial calendar:
    • blog posts
    • social media posts
    • videos
    • infographics

When preparing for a rebuild, your content strategy has to be one of the first things your team takes on. This approach will save you time, headaches, and likely budget moving forward. 

4. Consider your users’ digital experience

By this stage in the process you should know your target market, their buying habits and why your product or service is of value to them. You likely have personas and other data to help back this up. But in the omnichannel world in which we thrive, there is often more to architecting an effective user journey. Understanding the nuances of the devices, the influence of how a user comes to your site, and the overall adherence to best practices are complex. For example, consider the following:

  • What percentage of users are coming from mobile devices?
    • Are you CTAs and main conversion points easy to access on a small screen?
    • Is the user journey simplified?
  • Are you users coming from social media?
    • Is it your blog driving traffic or more word of mouth?
    • Is it positive or negative attention?
  • Have you produced a user journey map to identify the different pathways to conversion?
    • Is your site currently set up to promote these journeys?
    • Are you utilizing personalization to customize that user journey?

You can learn more about how to use user research to gain insight into audience behavior to help you frame your thoughts about your personas overall user journey to conversion.

5. Think about the future of your site

Websites need to evolve and adapt as the needs of your users change over time, but as you rebuild, are you setting yourself up for more incremental changes moving forward? Keep in mind that most rebuilds are focused on the MLP or “Minimum Lovable Product.” It’s the simplest iteration of your site that will meet your current needs with the intent to continually improve it over time. Regardless of whether you’re focused on an MLP launch due to either time or budget constraints, we need to keep these future goals in mind as we progress.

And then there’s the technology side of this: whether you’re looking ahead to Drupal 8 or 9 or the next major evolution with WordPress, consider those needs now to help ‘future proof’ your new site. The web changes too quickly to risk your site being stale when it’s still brand new. Talk this through from the start with your team.

These steps will set you up for success.

Your site speaks to who you are as an organization to your target market. Whether you’re a non-profit, higher education or a corporate entity, being mindful now will set your team’s rebuild up for success. And if you need help with your rebuild, contact us. We’d love to partner with you and help you recognize that success.

Donna Bungard

Donna began her Drupal career as a designer and themer, then transitioned to the project management and strategy side over the years. Her range of skills and experience help her...

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