Achieving lift-off with your relaunch

Jason Sumner. Jason is a white man with very short dark hair, a short beard and glasses. He is wearing a light jacket and shirt. Jason Sumner

The corporate website relaunch is one of the few times when corporate communications gets the attention of the entire organisation, right up to the CEO and senior leadership team.

That attention is daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to raise your visibility, and earn credibility for the communications department more widely.

That’s the optimistic part out of the way. The unfortunate reality is often cost overruns, agency disagreements, internal turmoil and an underwhelming final product. We’ve seen all those outcomes and more over the years, but we’ve also played a part in enough triumphs to know it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are five success factors to integrate into your own corporate website relaunch planning. 

Expect to have the “What is the website for?” conversation and prepare for it 

Nothing inspires people’s inner corporate existentialist more than a website project. If you prepare for these conversations, with data, with logic that comes from your unique position in the marketplace, and your reputation priorities as a business, then it won’t be so frustrating, and you will start on the front foot. Initiate this thinking by asking yourself, what would happen if we didn’t have a website at all? Which stakeholders would complain and why? Which opportunities would we miss? How might the business strategy be harder to achieve? 

Determine the real extent of your issues and scope the project accordingly 

Your company may have neglected the website for so many years that a full-scale overhaul really is in order. Usually though there is something to salvage about the current corporate digital estate. It’s best to think in terms of “evolution” if you can – your CFO will thank you, and this mindset will help you after the launch, when you should be continuing to make small improvements all the time.  

How you think about the website is critical  

A corporate website has a complex set of goals and stakeholders in itself, and it sits in an even more complicated digital ecosystem. You need a robust framework for how to think about the entire digital estate; one that is easily communicated to colleagues, and proves that you know what you are talking about. At the very top level, there are two useful categories – 1) things you want to say to your visitors and 2) things your visitors want to hear from you. Our Bowen Craggs evaluation methodology takes this several steps further, with eight main categories and 26 sub-categories covering specific messaging and stakeholder requirements. 

Keep control in house 

I mean “in house” in a metaphorical sense, not always literally. If you are in the fortunate position of being able to resource and run the project completely internally, then great. Most companies will need and even want a partner agency who brings creativity and experience, but that comes with many caveats. They may not understand your company, your sector, your culture, your stakeholders. They may have designed many websites, but corporate websites are a unique beast. If they have created corporate websites, they may try to force a faddish design on you that they’ve done a million times before. All of these risks need time and resources to carefully manage so you can “personalise” the standard offering. 

Always return to audience needs 

Speak from the audience perspective, always. Understand their needs, goals and behaviours, and how the corporate digital experience will help or hinder what they want to achieve; then design accordingly. Knowing this, and having data and expertise to back it up, will help you “sell” the new website, and continue to and win hearts and minds, long after the launch date.  

Get in touch for more information about how you can keep your relaunch project on track with Bowen Craggs’ website evaluation, visitor research, consultancy and peer network services for corporate digital communicators.