When we decided to redesign Manning Digital’s website, we quickly decided to not only implement a new clean interface but to also reorganize our site’s information architecture.

We approached the redesign as we would with an external client—casting a broader line of inquiry that allowed us to develop an appropriate strategy to create a sleekly and smartly designed product. The redesign process forced us to think more closely about who we are as an agency—who we work for, how we work, and what are our strengths and weaknesses.

Below details the five stages of our redesign process, which will give you an idea of how we work with our partners.

 

Stage 1: Discovery

In this stage we asked ourselves broader questions that were less about a website and more about who we are as a company.

  • Who are our target audiences?
  • What are we good at?
  • What services do we offer?
  • What is our relationship to the people we work with?

These questions helped us understand what audiences we wanted to attract. Once we had decided on four key target audiences, we wrote a user persona for each.

We also looked at several competitors’ websites to get a sense of what design and architecture elements would be appropriate for our needs. We found ourselves gravitating towards compact sites with only handful of main pages.

 

Stage 2: Strategy

With a better idea of our messaging in hand, we began to think about the different content funnels we wanted our audience personas to follow. Effective user flow is vital to best engage with audiences. A sitemap of six primary pages emerged from these users’ needs. From this sitemap, we created different user flows starting from the home page.

During the Strategy stage we also developed key language that we use throughout the site—namely the motif, “A better way to…” This was one of the first ideas we jotted down and even after a few brainstorming sessions we kept gravitating back to this concept—reinforcing that oftentimes your first ideas are not bad just because they came first.

“A better way to” perfectly encapsulates our approach towards our projects; we are always asking ourselves how can we improve existing practices or concoct an entirely new method.

 

sketch_wireframe

Stage 3: Design & Content Writing

Sketching wireframes on pencil and paper was the first step in the design process. We did not want our initial ideas to be hindered by the limitations of the screen—physical media allowed us to be creative as possible.

We knew from the start of our Discovery process that one of our goals was to have a new site up quickly and for it to be an easily editable site that anyone on our team would be able to tinker with. For these two reasons, we decided to start with a WordPress template with a strong visual editor.

Using this template as a base, we began to implement our design sketches. By utilizing a template with a visual editor allowed us to quickly test multiple layout ideas.

As pages were being developed and designed, we were simultaneously writing content. Writing and designing side-by-side is a strategy we frequently use—it allows for the content to be written to fit the design and for the design to likewise be informed by the content.

 

trello

Stage 4: Testing

Once we were fairly happy with the the site and felt like it was in pretty good shape, we began our testing phase. We used Trello to organize the remaining tasks, bugs, and changes we needed to fix. As we went through the site on different devices and browsers, Trello allowed us to organize our notes and easily assign tasks. Some items on our board were programming bugs and others were design or content changes that we decided should be tweaked for a better user experience. Nothing was sacred in this stage, and we were open to redesigning any pages that didn’t provide an optimal user experience.

 

Stage 5: Launch

After setting up redirects for all pages on our old site, triple-checking our Trello list, and going through every page of the site on every device/browser combination, we were ready to launch!

We’re very excited about our new website and hope that you appreciate the cleaner user experience as well. Click around our capabilities and browse through our case studies, if you would like learn more about our process, please  send us a note.

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