Zaps are cool in cartoons. They can be maniacally electrifying when they involve bugs and a ‘zapper’. (For those old enough to remember watching  mosquitoes meet their doom at the hands of the back porch bug zapper). But you don’t want zaps to show up when you’re redoing your website. Zaps cost you time, waste money, hamper growth, and leave you disappointed. 

Designing or redesigning your website is often a necessary chore. I often tell clients, “Websites are like bedsheets—you need to change them more often than you think.” 

A mixture of excitement, anticipation and fear sets in once you come to terms with needing a new website. The excitement comes from the opportunities that lie ahead. You start off thinking…

  • We can finally feature our new product or service. 
  • We finally won’t look so outdated.
  • We can use our new slogan.
  • We can announce our new church service.
  • We’ll show off our new photos from the mission.
  • We’ll finally be able to manage our own website.

It’s like Christmas morning! (For the optimists in the room.)

But there’s some apprehension below the surface (for the realists in the room)…particularly when you write the check to pay for it. (Gulp.)

  • Will it work?
  • Will business pick up?
  • Will more supporters back our mission?
  • Will more people show up to our church?

But I’ve got good news. You can avoid common zaps on your next website redesign. This series will alert you to three frequent mistakes so you can steer clear and build a winning website! 

Here’s an important reminder as we kick the series off. _Each zap represents a common approach between you the client and the designer/developer you work with to design your new site._These hold true whether the designer is internal to your organization or you hire it out.

Zap 1: Tell us what you want and we’ll build it.

Zap. This approach is everywhere. It’s disappointing. Like thirsty cattle following a trail to a bone dry pond. I see it happen over and over. But it doesn’t work and you’ll get zapped.

The designer says, “Tell me what you want and we can build it.” The zap happens because of the built-in assumptions of this approach.

This approach assumes…

  • You know what you want.
  • What you want is actually what you need.
  • The new website should appeal to you and make you happy.
  • You’re a Jedi trained in the secret arts of writing for the web, design, usability, site structure, and the ever-changing landscape of responsive web design.

Here’s the danger of the assumptions and why you’ll get zapped by this approach. 

The most critical question for your next website redesign is ‘What does my AUDIENCE want?’!

You are the initiator of the ‘new website’ project, but you are not the recipient.  Your new website is for your audience. It should be sitting under the Christmas tree of your audience with a tag that reads, “From Me, To You”.

When starting your next website redesign project, ask yourself…

  • What does my audience want or need from this new website?
  • How can we organize it in a way that makes sense to them?
  • What design choices represent us and also appeal to our audience?
  • What would represent a ‘win’ in the eyes of potential customers, supporters, or members?

Ask yourself these questions and don’t get zapped on your next relaunch. Or better yet, work with someone who can help you ask and answer those questions. After all, this is your website project. So why work with a provider who wouldn’t think to ask those questions to begin with?

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