Website Changes: A Recipe for Smooth and Effective Updates
The purpose of this article is to communicate an efficient process that minimizes unnecessary revisions while ensuring that the updates are done with all major considerations being taking into account - strategy, design, copywriting, technical development, and SEO best practices in mind.
This infographic on the flow of website changes can be applied at any stage of a potential website update as it goes through an organization. Although this infographic shows a linear process, at any point you may go to the next step, and there is a potential to go back to the previous step; however the important message to take away from this graphic is that you don't want to jump ahead.
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Changes or additions to a website may come from many different sources: sales, the technical team, owners, the market, marketing, competitors, customers, and non-human factors like statistics and analytics. These insights, ideas, or concepts get analyzed on a higher level and a draft concept gets created. This draft should then get passed through the organization for internal analysis. At this point, all teams that have a role in the website should be involved. Each team (marketing, SEO, design, technical development, others) in the internal analysis have different perspectives and need to be involved as early in the process as possible to no only provide feedback that often enhances the ideas even further, but also to ensure that any changes or additions don't cause any potential problems. For instance, the modification of content or code doesn't threaten SEO.
After analysis and conference with internal team members, the idea is starting to solidify and should now be reviewed to ensure it aligns with corporate policy, business goals, direction, style guide, and any others. This would continue the refinement. If the updates don't align with the direction of the organization, it may not be worth the effort and should then be communicated back to the contributor so they understand the reason. The timeline of this process of back-and-forth can vary drastically, depending on the size of the team and the complexity of the updates. While time-consuming, this may be the most crucial part of the update process.
When the idea has been approved by the internal team, it continues on the path and should go back to the contributor(s) for review with the reason for any changes or additions that were made, so they have a better understanding. This feedback process provides shared learning within the organization which will help with any future website modifications.
When the idea has been analyzed, finalized and approved, testing and optimization with your teams, users and/or customers is conducted. Depending on the nature of the addition, not all teams may need to get involved in this optimization stage. At a minimum, however, we suggest all teams responsible for website updates to be part of the optimization stage. For instance, a design adjustment may have a significant effect on how something works technically. Keeping best practices in mind, you should have input from the marketing team in order to ensure that the initiatives and work of internal teams are not in competition.
Make sure that all website contributors are involved. Each website team consists of experts in their respective areas and they all keep up-to-date with advancements in the industry. In the constantly changing website and internet marketing industry, having this confirmation from other experts who all contribute in one form or another to a website will ensure that it is done properly the first time. In situations where some parts of the website work is outsourced to different companies, it's still advantageous to have all firms coordinate. This does make things more complicated, and often more time consuming, but taking the time to ensure all parties know what's going on is well worth it. Over time, the different teams and/or companies will become familiar with this process and will be able to recognize which items need other team's eyes on before going too far.
Jumping ahead is when problems are more likely to occur and the risk of having to redo work increases dramatically. Following this recipe and the flow of website changes will help create a wonderful dish that your website visitors and the search engines will enjoy.