Steps for a Successful Online Website Redesign – The 4 Ds

Steps for a Successful Website Redesign Project
Steps for a Successful Website Redesign Project
Steps for a Successful Website Redesign Project

Back in 2008 (9 years ago!), I wrote about the steps for a “Successful Project and Product Launch” and to this day, I still follow them. The 4Ds have stuck with me through thick and thin and are bullet proof. I’ve used this model with different projects – small and large – and have perfected each step little by little.

The 4Ds can be adapted to anything…a project, website redesign, goal setting, anything really.

But for a website redesign, we’ll need to take them to the next level:

  1. Define
    • Define organizational and website objectives – “L.E.A.R.N.”
      • LISTEN to goals from Executives, Product Marketing, IT and other stakeholders
      • EVALUATE and audit what is currently live
      • ANALYZE user data to identify pain points and drop offs
      • RESEARCH solutions for gaps that in tools/software that will be needed
      • create a NEEDS assessment proposal
    • Define success criteria, project benchmarks
      • What defines a successful website launch?
      • What KPIs will be measured once the new site is live?
    • Competitive/Industrial Analysis
      • Always evaluate the competition and what’s working/what’s not
    • Define timeline, budget and cost
    • Define the communication protocols and expectations
      • Weekly or bi-weekly meetings?
      • What type of project plan will be used?
      • How do you keep the Executive Team updated?
  2. Design
    • Build a sitemap
      • This will ensure all content pieces are accounted for and the right designs are created
    • Create wireframes
      • Rather than jumping to the visuals, focus on the Information Architecture (IA) and how the content will be organized
    • Design the navigation structure
      • How will the pages in the sitemap cross-link?
    • Build the technical design and infrastructure
    • Test prototype usability and functionality
      • Tools like User Testing are key for separating subjective vs objective feedback
    • Review progress in relation to project benchmarks
  3. Develop
    • Develop the front-end html/css based on the designs provided
      • This is a critical step to ensure the functionality works exactly as intended by the design
    • Develop the CMS back-end exactly to spec
      • Ensure the back-end work is developed for scalability – especially if you have a multiple geo roll out plan
    • Test functionality
      • Thoroughly test and ensure all stakeholders are involved with providing feedback
    • Review progress in relation to project benchmarks
  4. Deploy
    • Create a deployment schedule for stage and production
    • Ensure all tracking and analytics are deployed
    • Deploy statistical tracking software
    • Deploy the meta tag code and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy
    • Launch site line online
    • Provide training and support
    • Monitor success

The 4Ds provide a great structure for managing a successful web redesign effort. However, don’t limit yourself to just these steps, as typically there’s plenty more to consider. Depending on the impact and timing of the redesign project, you may want to add an additional step before the “Define” process where you learn more about target customers, product/service offering, etc. This “Discover” phase will be covered in a separate post.

Time has evolved, we’re now on to the 5D Model, but the 4Ds will be okay for most redesign projects.