How long should a web site redesign take?

There’s really not a stock answer to this, it depends on too many variables. Some of those variables rest within the web developer but many of the key ones actually are with the client. These variables include:

  • How committed is the client in determining the next stage for their web site?
  • What new functionality will be needed for the redesign?
  • How many people will be involved in the approval process of a redesign?
  • More importantly, how many people are invested in the end result of the redesign of the web site?
  • How much time does the client intend to put into the redesign of their web site?

I personally am not a big fan of the client “committee” approach to redesign. I say this not because committees can not work, but because they are often created in a way that will not work. Committees can not replace a central person that is responsible and knowledgeable about the needs and the capabilities of the next web site iteration AND the needs and the capabilities of the organization the web site is for.

But that person can’t be an out-of-house person at all. This means that there REALLY should be an in-house leader for the redesign, and that person should be one of the most invested persons in the organization for the end result of the redesign, and have the time to devote to that investment.

When an organization doesn’t devote time to a website redesign planning, it usually pays for it in the price of delay of implementation and re-workings of the redesign… or in the need for a new redesign relatively soon.

There are several kinds of redesigns – some rather simple, such as changing template colors, logos, headers, etc., and some that are much more significant as they implement new functionality. The more involved the redesign, the more critical it is to have the in-house leader.

If your organization has a significant IT/web developer in-house resource available, your efforts towards redesign may not require a web developer at all, or at least at an early point in planning. But if you don’t, and your redesign is adding new functionality, you ought to consider bringing one in relatively early in the process to determine options for that redesign. By all means, request quotes and narratives about the proposed effort from web developers before you actually hire one – but bring your choice in to the discussion early. Your organization should benefit from the web-based options the developer can provide and the advice for working through the process. And the web developer will learn your organization’s culture before actually doing any coding. It can improve the amount of time it takes to get to the desired result.

One other thing to remember about web site redesigns is that it isn’t as static of a process as redesigning your paper materials, your displays, your signs, etc. That’s because everything is changing all the time, from small code preferences to user device preferences to content options to… well, you get the point. It’s very likely something in the design will change in the next year, or at least should. If you keep that in mind when you work on your web site redesign, you won’t be as locked into the “perfect final product” and more into a continuing work process – and your design will more likely be designed with the flexibility to be that way as well.

Bottom line – there’s no magic amount of time for how long a web site redesign should take – although there may be a timeline of how long it WILL take. Events on the calendar matter.  But so does the amount of time the lead person in your organization will invest into the next iteration of the web site.