The 4 Types of Website Design Projects

We’ve previously written a post on the importance of websites in a company’s overall marketing, sales, and operations plan: A Website is Not Just a Website (link).

While that shared our philosophy on how to define the role of your website, this post is going to highlight the four main different types of website design and development projects, to help you better evaluate what your needs are before reaching out to a creative partner.

There are many different types of websites (we’ll get to that in a later post), but today’s post is through the lens of a corporate website.

Read the full post: https://stackcreative.co/blog/the-4-types-of-website-design-projects

A Healthy Website

There are a few signs of what a well-built, optimized, and well-organized corporate website looks and works like:

  • Strategy: A good corporate website has the same positioning as your other marketing channels; it’s connected to your email marketing database and CRM and your analytics; and it’s telling the story you want to tell your customers.
  • Design: A good corporate website is responsively designed; it’s accessible; it has a clear navigation and sensible, conversion-optimized user experience; and it strongly ties to your company’s branding.
  • Development: A good corporate website has been developed to allow for smaller content updates without requiring redevelopment; it’s built to gracefully degrade to older browsers; it has the technical elements of accessibility built into it; and it’s integrated with other platforms in your tech stack.
  • Content: A good corporate website is easy for you to update with your Content Management System (CMS); it’s search engine optimized through keyword research, technical SEO, and copy; and you and your team are evaluating the content on a regular basis to ensure it’s still accurate as your company and customer needs shift.

A healthy website has a lot to consider, and it’s not a static channel. But “updating your website” can take many different shapes, depending on where you’re at as an organization, and what’s changed since the last refresh. Now that we know what “good” looks like, here are the four basic types of corporate website design projects.

Project Type #1: Content Updates

The most common type of project is simply updating the content that is already there.

Whether you’re revising text and images on existing pages, adding new pages (if your CMS allows you to), or potentially adding new types of content, content update projects typically don’t require heavy design or development work.

Common Activities

  • Content audits
  • Copywriting
  • Image creation and production
  • 301 redirects updates
  • Page creation or removal

Timing

Regularly (Monthly or Quarterly, depending on your business)

Team

In a perfect world, you would have the power to make these changes yourself, without necessarily requiring agency support outside of external guidance.

Project Type #2: Tweaks

The business and marketing world is not a static place, and over the course of a website’s lifecycle, there are usually a couple of occasions when larger tweaks and updates to the design or development of the website is required, without necessarily requiring a complete redesign.

These types of projects can include things like refining templates, adding new features within the existing structure, making site-wide updates to the developed codes based on the results of an audit of SEO, accessibility, or User Experience (UX), or in the case of an e-commerce website, adding functionality such as adding subscriptions or new regions.

Common Activities

  • User Experience (UX) audits
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audits
  • Accessibility Audits
  • UX and Visual Design
  • Content Creation
  • Development and QA

Timing

Semi-Annually or Annually

Team

Website tweaks are often a collaboration between your internal team (objectives, requests, subjective feedback, content) and an external partner (audits, design, development, content).

Project Type #3: Overhauls

More comprehensive than tweaks, but still a step short of a top-to-bottom redesign, overhauling your website is a common step to take every couple of years to keep it in tip-top shape.

These types of projects involve making more substantial content or structural changes, such as updating the navigation structure, creating new templates or entire sections of the website, adding new, more involved functionality, or when a marketing or comms strategy has shifted enough to warrant new messaging throughout.

Common Activities

  • UX, SEO, and Accessibility Audits
  • Analytics Reviews
  • Content Strategy
  • User Research
  • UX and Visual Design
  • Content Creation
  • Development and QA

Timing

Depends on the complexity of the changes and the reasons why, but this is often helpful at least once during a website’s lifecycle in order to extend the shelf life by one or several years.

Team

Website overhauls are also commonly a collaboration between internal teams and their agency partners, much as the Tweaks are — but there’s often a higher value and need in the agency supplying more specialized, direction-setting services such as User Research or Content Strategy to help shape the changes.

Project Type #4: Website Redesigns

The Big Kahuna: a website redesign involves tearing down the old site and building a new one in its place.

A full-scale website redesign and redevelopment project is a high-investment, high-impact project. They’re best considered when there’s been a significant change in your business (merger, acquisition, etc.), if you’ve changed the products or services you sell, if your branding has changed, if the role of your website in your marketing and sales efforts has changed — or quite simply, if it’s been a 5+ year period without overhauls or tweaks.

Common Activities

  • Strategy — Some or all of Customer Experience (CX) or CRM Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Content Strategy, and Positioning
  • UX, SEO, Content, and Accessibility Audits
  • Art Direction, UX Design, Graphic Design, Production Design
  • Content Creation
  • Development, Integrations, and QA

Timing

Every 5+ years, or as part of a major company transformation.

Team

Website redesigns are a strategic and content collaboration between your internal team and your agency, although the audits, creative and design, and development elements often fall under an agency’s banner more holistically for all except the largest in-house client departments.

———

The web is a dynamic place. Keeping pace with the changes and best practices — not to mention what counts as great, cutting-edge work — is virtually a full-time job in itself.

10–15 years ago, it was common for an agency to handle every aspect of a website. But as digital marketing has evolved, and in-house and consultant teams with it, the most responsible projects are one where the agency helps shape the vision and structure, and the client helps steer the content on a day-to-day basis.

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Founder & Creative Director, Stack Creative in Toronto. Find us online at www.stackcreative.co.