Earlier this year I embarked on a journey to create a new website for my credit union. The mission: Help members and non-members alike compare our offerings and provide the necessary financial education needed to aide in their decision making process. The final product: a website that is both easy on the eyes and easily navigable for members and non-members.
When I began this journey, I knew the two key components for success were staying organized and hitting deadlines. Both rang true as my team and I entered and completed each stage of the project, from initial research to design to the eventual testing and launch of our new site. If you’re considering taking on a new website project or have already committed to the thought, knowing what is in front of you will help take the pressure off. Here is a brief look at the steps my team and I took in developing and launching a successful website earlier this year:
1. Do the Research – Choosing the right development partner couldn’t be more important. Understand what their capabilities are prior to signing on the dotted line to avoid complications further down the road. For us, that meant choosing a partner with a strong project manager, robust design skills (and the portfolio to prove it), and the staff who know the importance of being flexible and can handle any changes that may arise during the project.
2. Assemble Your Team – For a more holistic viewpoint, we curated a group of credit union staff members from different departments who were able to outline how the new website could speak to the needs of members in relation to their respective areas.
3. Develop a Content Plan – Since in today’s digital world, content is king, we knew we had to develop content that would not only speak to the value of our products, but be written in a way both members and nonmembers could understand. Outlining the benefits of each product prior to initializing content development proved invaluable.
4. Don’t Settle on Design – As three initial designs were presented to us, we knew it was imperative to walk through each element and understand how each would function when fully built out. Thanks to a supportive development partner, we were able to ask a lot of questions and be confident in the decisions we made when taking elements from all three designs and combining them into what became our final product.
5. Test, Test, Test – Once the staging link was handed off to us, we initialized Project All Hands on Deck. By enlisting our entire marketing team as well as members of our interdepartmental team, we were able to test and review every single element within the new site and provide detailed feedback to our development partner as to what was working, what needed attention, and what we felt could function better in a different way.
6. Get Ready to Hit the Button – The idea of hitting the “live” button for me was one, after months of development, that felt surreal to me. Of course, this included moving all our files to our server and continuing to test until the very last moment, but for me, “going live” was something to take in and enjoy.
Now that we have launched and the feedback we have received is nothing but positive, I can consider this project one for the books. But if I leave you with anything, it’s this. A website project is never over. Whether its adding new content or building upon functionality you enabled in phase one, a website is a living, breathing thing, which will always require your attention. Knowing this will ensure your members and non-members always have somewhere they can go to get the support they need.