November 27, 2020 Don't Rush into Implementing a Renewal! What Webmasters Should Do Before a Project Commences

Yoji Morisaki
Managing Director / Division Three General Manager

The current coronavirus pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of websites. Now after recognizing the value of one’s owned media, specifically the corporate website, there are likely many organizations that are considering web renewals or implementing other such sweeping reviews of online estates.

However, through the customary job rotation policies at Japanese companies, it’s not uncommon for organizations to frequently shuffle employees working in web teams. These newly appointed webmasters, who could have little to no web-related experience or know-how, may feel overwhelmed – especially if a renewal is decided to be necessary. For the following selected reasons, it's easy to imagine the great risks and resultant stress.

  • I don't have web-related expertise, but suddenly I'm assigned to lead a renewal project
  • The leader of the previous website renewal has moved on, and knowledge hasn’t accumulated in my department/company
  • With little to no knowledge of the web industry, I must select and entrust production to a development company, etc.

So, in this Column, I will summarize what webmasters can do on a regular basis to ensure they acquire the relevant know-how etc. and are better able to support website renewal projects.

Constantly Collect Information, Accumulate Knowledge

It is necessary for webmasters to collect information on a frequent basis, such as by regularly reading web trend-related columns and participating in seminars. It's also important to actively participate in training events or programs offered by web development companies, etc. This will ensure webmasters acquire a certain level of knowledge on the latest trends and technologies. Then when renewal projects do commence, from having collected information in advance, webmasters can immediately contact with their preferred, or favored 2 to 3, candidate web production companies.

Better Understand the Attributes of Web Development Companies

Webmasters may feel a certain level of anxiety when entrusting a large project to a web development company with which they have no previous work experience. Therefore, we recommend starting with a small pilot project - such as landing page development or updating/entrusting operation of one website category. This will allow the webmaster to acquire first-hand experience of project management, gain a sense of how quickly projects progress, as well as realize the ability of the production company’s project leader to flexibility respond to needs.

When working on the pilot project, if it becomes apparent that the partner company has no willingness to expediently execute requests, or the quality is poor, or the project leader doesn’t understand requirements and is inflexible, it’s highly likely that similar issues will arise when requesting larger projects - such as a full website renewal. So, ascertaining in advance the workflows and operational strengths of different web production companies, and then determining whether they complement your company's attributes, will mitigate the risk of gaps arising in subsequent renewal projects.

Find a Reliable Partner with Whom you can have a Long-term Relationship

When selecting a partner for a website renewal project, it’s preferable to select one that you can continue working with post-release. Consider a company that:

  • is proficient in creating appropriate, quality PDCA cycles
  • assists in solving issues that arise etc.

I believe that it’s important to choose a web development company with which you can build a long-term relationship – such as through the support of subsequent operational work and design updates etc. To ensure the continued efficacy of your new website, rather than considering the renewal as a one-off triumph, it’s necessary to make regular updates and improvements through the implementation of PDCA cycles. In addition to confirming a prospective partner’s development successes, by requesting that web companies share their latest operation support achievements it’s possible to judge whether the company can be entrusted with stable post-development operation support.

Ensure Website Information is Up to Date

With a renewal, it's almost impossible to launch all content from scratch. Therefore, it’s common to implement new functions, develop content, change structures, and renew designs, etc. based on previously created and managed content. During a renewal, however, some site assets may be newly identified. This discovery then requires content accuracy to be verified – thereby redirecting the valuable time of both webmasters and content managers. Furthermore, it isn’t unusual for pages without administrators to be found which then creates additional difficulties.

So, through daily operation, while it’s important to regularly confirm content accuracy and freshness, checks are also important to manage information risk and reduce the chance of unwelcome surprises come renewal time.

Experiment with Easy-to-do Measures, then Verify Effectiveness on the Current Site

Come website renewal time, while it’s tempting to add all possible updates and functions, it’s often necessary to prioritize goals and then make selections based on needs, schedule and budget.

Rather than implementing various large and small-scale updates simultaneously, I believe that webmasters can increase the probability of success by implementing minor updates on a page-by-page basis and then verifying their effectiveness. To make major structural improvements to the website, it is better to wait until a renewal opportunity. Additionally, it is useful, especially when planning a renewal, for webmasters to have regular discussions with development companies to accumulate knowledge on what kind of measures will be effective etc.

Careful Daily Operation Forms the Basis of Renewals

At Mitsue-Links, we believe that meticulous daily site management forms the basis of smooth website renewals. So, with "operation first" as our principal policy, we provide high-quality operational support to increase the value of our clients' websites and thereby assist them in their achieving corporate goals and maximizing profits. Please feel free to contact us for renewal-related inquiries, consultation requests, queries regarding current site operation, support for minor website improvements, and effectiveness verification.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.