So, your website looks like it landed from the 90’s to your customer’s and partner’s desktops? Has it been that way a while? Time to put an awesome graphic designer to work and wow your customers! Before you go through the resumes though, don’t skip on preliminary work. While there may still be a few debates held on flat versus realistic design, there are a whole range of other processes, hierarchies and departments that a redesign project will touch, from birth to go-live. And knowing how a whole range of things can go wrong during a redesign, it’s a good idea to have a bulletproof plan for your project before starting.
We’ve spoken to Brian Wistisen, Director of Product Marketing at Storagecraft, to see how the rebranding and redesign process has profoundly changed the organization from the inside and brought about an enthusiastic, collective heave-ho to produce a visually restructured identity that is modern, inviting and structured enough for users to easily navigate.
Have Clear Goals For Your Redesign In Mind
The redesign project started in December 2015, and the shiny new StorageCraft.com was launched in July 2016. A team of 25 professionals worked on this project, from wireframing to testing and completion, and meeting the deadline required a lot of dedication.
The team didn’t just go for a vanity overhaul of the website. They set out with clear goals in mind for the website’s purpose:
- Organize the content and make it easier to navigate;
- Center the message around the StorageCraft Recovery Solution;
- Create a partner-focused web portal.
Swallow Your Pride: User Experience Trumps Ego
A redesign project can bring about a whole range of opinions, and at one point all might seem like awesome ideas and relevant to your customer experience. But how to weed out the useful from the beach of ideas? The team had a hint of where the design was failing to meet expectations, but the answer must always come from hard data: so they came to ask the users.
“We did a survey to our channel base and the feedback was overwhelming. The website was very text-heavy, difficult to navigate or not modern in nature,” said Brian. “That’s a hard pill to swallow. Those were things that we had to face and that influenced our decision,” he recalls.
Knowing this, the team set out to make the website content more digestible, easier to navigate and easier find information. “Our goal was to organize the content and be very structured about the ease of navigation, the simplicity of capturing their attention and make them want to learn more,” adds Brian.
What Makes A Successful Redesign Project
On what makes a successful redesign project, proper planning prevents poor performance. “What I’m most proud of is that we followed a very good best practices process. We did not immediately barge in and start creating a website and developing, we resisted that temptation. We went through the process systematically with our third party agency,” said Brian.
“It started with site mapping, we went on to module design and ideation, and then user flows. Then we went into wireframing and we followed the best practice process that you would normally follow when you create everything. I would not change any of that,” he adds.
Making The Most Of A Website’s Most Valuable Pages
When looking at all the pieces of digital real-estate a company owns, the most resources go into the one that adds the most value. Same goes for the pages of a website – in the redesign process, do not bury those parts of the website that received the most traffic.
“We made sure that we had a focus on the top 10 pages that were giving us most traffic: the download page, the trial, how to buy, the ShadowProtect pages. As a result you now see that top navigation menu with some of the links like demo, trial, how to buy. We did not want to bury them deep into the menu structure,” said Brian Wistisen.
Being Mindful Of Target Audience
When commencing a redesign project, one must pay heed to the different audiences and personas that the message is targeting. The StorageCraft Redesign project applied to a website with a message that was fragmented amongst two different types of audiences: StorageCraft partners and end users for the backup and recovery solution.
“We wanted to make sure the new website was very partner-focused. While it’s important to educate the market at large about products, we need to make sure that we always have this message, that partners come first. They need to know that this is for them,” says Brian.
Being Mindful Of The Messaging
The company had been continually growing in the last 10 years , and for such a website, content can become pretty muddy business: pages are added upon pages of content, with not a lot of consideration for user experience.
“For 10 years this website has morphed and had things added to it, and more had been added to each page. As each successive product would launch, more was thrown to the website. We did not take a step back to look at how we tell the story of all the company had to offer,” recounts Brian. “The goal was to tell the holistic business continuity solution. We wanted to elevate our products from just backup to business continuity solution,” he adds.
Keeping An Eye On the Bigger Picture
A website redesign’s primary mission is to restructure the content and tell a more powerful story. Looking at each product individually, it’s harder for a user to quickly make the connection of what the company is about. So talking about the entire Recovery Solution made sense, as opposed to promoting ShadowProtect, ShadowProtect SPX, ImageManager or ShadowControl.
“We want to be known as the business continuity company. We provide end to end holistic full disaster recovery protection, from onsite to offsite. That is, whether it is our cloud, or their cloud that they built, or a third party cloud. This is in addition to their own secondary redundant on-site repositories,” says Brian.
The Challenges Of A Massive Redesign Project
The redesign project of a website that has thousands of pages is no easy business. But it wasn’t the sheer size of it that scared design agencies away, says Brian. Any redesign is always deeply dependant on the content management platform.
“Some of the challenges of this project were around Drupal. We built the website on Drupal, and it is not the common industry CMS. Most people are using other kind of frameworks. The challenge was in finding an agency that felt comfortable using Drupal everybody else built on WordPress,” recounts Brian.
How Rebranding Reshuffles And Motivates Teams
The other challenge of a major redesign project is getting everybody on board. In this case, it meant moving around whole departments. “We had a web team that was separate from marketing, so we could not work with them. We had to go through their channels to get resources, that wasn’t going to work. What brought on this restructuring was this project. The web team merged with the marketing team. I don’t think we would have been successful if that had not happened.”
“Everybody was enthusiastic, we all wanted to put our best face forward in the marketplace. We were excited about the impact we knew we could have. Every time you change your image and branding, it is the closest thing you can do to influence people. This is what they see,” concludes Brian Wistisen.
The StorageCraft.com redesign project imposed a user-friendly navigation system and streamlined information flow. This allows the company’s partners and visitors to find resources more easily.