So You Want To Build A Website...

May 01, 2014

Not too long ago we decided it was time to redo the OHO website. We thought it would be easy; after all, we do this for clients every day, right? Well, as it turns out, that was back in 2011. It took longer than we expected, but what really matters is that the new site is live and we’re all basking in the glory of our hard work and dedication to the project.

What took so long?

Well, it’s one of those “cobbler’s kids have no shoes” situations. We knew we needed to update our site but other deadlines demanded priority and consistently diverted our attention. That, and we had more than a few internal stakeholders with someone from each OHO discipline on the project team. This included Research, Content, IA, UX, Visual Design, Development, QA, Marketing, Operations, and the Executive Team. Were so many people on the project team necessary? Yes. Could we have moved the project along faster? Yes. We navigated through many iterations of writing, designing and building. Opinions were varied, passionate, and always valued.

Keys to success

With so much input from stakeholders and varying priorities, there was one thing we needed to do to make the new website come together successfully. We needed to refocus. As I see it, there were three keys to our success that are applicable to the majority of website redesign projects:

We made it a priority. Even though the project wasn’t a direct revenue generator, we all agreed it was an investment toward future revenue. We knew our site at the time wasn’t doing a good job of showcasing our depth of experience, level of expertise, and innovate client work. That understanding alone was enough to focus everyone on the right path.

We took our own advice. We’re always telling our clients that research is key to defining the strategy of a redesign project. It eliminates the natural lean toward focusing on individual agendas, overthinking both large and small details, and the push for personal preferences. Once we took our own advice and relied on data from the branding exercise and user research we conducted, we were able to clearly define the priorities for the new site.

We made decisions and stuck by them. While buy-in from people across the organization is essential, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. You can’t please every stakeholder. At some point you have to make the call, even if it’s a tough one, and we did. When it came to decisions ranging from the typography and information architecture to the navigation and responsive design, we weighed our options, chose what made the most sense, and stuck to our guns.

Well, there you have it. Truth be told, after three years of starts and stops, there’s plenty more detail I could go into, but you’ve already got the most valuable lessons here. The only thing left to do now? Check out the rest of our new site and start planning your redesign.

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