Creating a new company web site should be an exciting time, and things can go a lot smoother if there’s open communication, especially internally. Here are 5 tips to make the transition more like a party than a funeral for employees:
1. Treat a web site redesign like editors do at print magazines or like the world does leading up to each New Year’s holiday: create a countdown. Make sure your internal users – staff members, stakeholders, other constituents – know that a redesign will occur and when the transition will take place. Internally, there shouldn’t be any surprises: everyone should know the change is coming months before it happens.
2. Keep internal constituents pumped about the change! Drop hints in a company newsletter or your employee Twitter account about interesting, useful and unique capabilities or features the new site will have. Remind everyone consistently that the change is coming and that it’ll make their lives better. Some folks may think it’s cheesy (and possibly annoying) to be reminded of the change every time they turn around. Prevent this by keeping your messages short, simple and clever.
3. Educate and train: in some organizations, a central entity creates a web site’s template, and then individual offices are responsible for updating their section. So if your new web site requires folks to learn how to work with HTML code or anything different than what is currently being used, hold workshops well before the launch date to train employees. Be patient and be kind, and your colleagues will appreciate you making their transition to the new web site easy. And offer free snacks at the workshops, in addition to holding them in a room with natural, bright light.
4. Design by suggestion: we all know designing by committee hardly works, but if your organization is open to input (and all really need to be), allow employees to suggest ideas for the web site, whether it be content, colors, images or style. Including everyone in the process will ensure employees on every level feel as if they have a stake in the change. And they do have a stake because the change affects them.
5. And finally, have a large focus group (consisting of your employees) test out the new site before it goes live: There’s nothing more frustrating than coming across a problem months after a redesign launch and wondering if hundreds of others have also gotten frustrated and left your site (ending with potentially a lost customer or client). In addition, employees use various parts of an entire web site. Someone in finance may see a problem with a section that someone in marketing wouldn’t.
When a print magazine completes a redesign, it completes the redesign. Just because web sites are dynamic and can be changed easily doesn’t mean we should count on changing things later. When you launch, make sure it’s as perfect as possible.
And make it a party!