Part 2 of our Site Rebuild Series: Steps for Success

steps4success

Now that you have more insight from Part 1 of our Rebuild Series on whether or not rebuilding is in the budget, your next step is planning. We’ve got it all mapped out for you in Part 2. This post will take you through the project planning and management process with insight from Miva Project Management Supervisor, Donna Sandsmark.

So before we jump in let’s answer the question on most of your minds right now – why redesign my website?  Sales are good and customers seem happy, why fix something that is not broken?

The simple answer: in the e-commerce sector where technology and best practices constantly evolve, and customers always want more convenience and access – there is no standing still.

Sitting up straight now? Thought so…let’s get started with your project. 

Project Scope, Timeline & Team

The first step in the rebuild process is to create a statement of work and project scope.  The project scope should involve a project management team, timeline, deadlines and the most important features and options you don’t want to be overlooked. Of course things happen and deadlines cannot always be met, but staying organized and knowing what is next on your list always makes for a successful project. Think of your project scope as your mission statement for your site rebuild. What are you looking to accomplish and with whom are you going to accomplish this with and on what timeframe?

Focus:

Functionality & Flow – Features and Options

Optimization – Key Processes

Build a Team – When a development store is initially created, the storeowner should be involved every step of the way.

For most new projects, it is recommended that the site be created as a responsive website that is optimized for mobile phone and tablets as well as desktop.  According to Cisco, “by 2015, it’s expected that the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population.”  So, the decision to build a responsive site is an obvious choice based on this alone.

The key to a successful project is the inclusion of a dedicated project manager.  Responsible for the overall process and positive customer experience, the project manager oversees and ensures a successful design, development, testing and launch of the site redesign.  The project manager, a.k.a your new best friend, coordinates regular communications with the client and your design/development team from the very start all the way through to the end. It seems more realistic to call your project manager your best friend because over the course of approximately 8 weeks they will be your right-hand man, or woman.

In a perfect world your web team would consist of:

Developer

Designer

Project Manager

QA Specialist

Sometimes the same person can play 2 or even 3 of these roles. One role we like to stress that remains a one-man job is the QA person. We’ll touch more on this topic later on. For now, let’s continue down the path to a successful site rebuild with the next step in planning. 

The Design Process

The visual look of a website is critical as it facilitates a connection with your customers and showcases your products.  The choice of color, fonts, imagery and layout all work together to create a unique experience and long lasting brand.

Focus:

Visual Look

Organization of Information

User Experience – Optimization to make key activities intuitive

The organization of information is key to ensure that customers can find what they want, and be presented with opportunities to discover new products.

User experience is a trendy topic as there is a wealth of data and research that correlates an intuitive user experience with positive ecommerce outcomes.  For example, designing the checkout forms can realize huge improvements in conversions.  Based on research conducted by the Baymard Institute, “75% of the test subjects experienced severe form usability issues on sites that failed to mark both required and optional fields clearly.”

To accomplish these design objectives, you will manage the process from initial art direction discussions to wireframes, and eventually finished interface designs that include customized navigation, promotional imagery, category and product pages, and streamlined checkout.

The Development Process

The development process is where the website redesign is brought to life.  Your customized design should be created using current web technologies. This is the time when any Modules and custom functionality is added to your site to expand the user experience and site functionality.

Focus:

Module & Custom Functionality

Promotional Parameters

Test and Retest – QA

Your development team generally consists of a dedicated developer and project team. A QA tester is necessary to verify that the website’s functionality meets all of the project requirements.  Peer reviews and development checklist are also part of this comprehensive process. Like any product, it should go through a rigorous QA process before going live.

Business rules and logic are part of the development process, ensuring that promotions/marketing campaigns, discounted pricing, shipping rules and other important business parameters are in place.

Category and product data are also important to address during the development phase.  A review of the category organization and structure of your category relationships is an important step in ensuring that products are easy to find and logically grouped. This process could possibly be the most important, as usability is and always will be the ultimate deal breaker when it comes to the sales of your products.

The end of your development journey occurs once your website is tested and verified. When the store officially launches to your customers – that is where the new journey begins. Stay tuned to see what that looks like in Part 3: “Technical Hurdles.”

Summary

To quote Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”  A website is an ecosystem of amazing products and an amazing ecommerce experience built on design and development excellence.  Miva builds a project experience that is structure and flexible, customized to your specific needs and the expectations of your customers.  To learm more about Miva click here.