Why a Redesign is Like Moving: Time to Audit Your Stuff and Toss, Toss, Toss

My husband and I recently bought a new house. Even though the new place is slightly bigger than our old house, I was determined not to move old crap so I took the time to audit all of our stuff and toss out as much stuff as possible. During this process, which took months, I realized that moving to a new house is a lot like redesigning your website. Here’s how:

Inventory and audit everything. During the move, I was amazed at the stuff that I “found” and the junk that I ended up tossing. It makes me think of a content audit we completed for a client recently. After delivering the Excel spreadsheet that listed all of their website’s content, the client said, “wow, there’s so much stuff that we didn’t realize we still had online.”

Don’t just hire movers to move everything. A neighbor recently moved and she hired movers to pack up her entire house and move the boxes and furniture. Me, I prefer to do my own packing because it gives me a chance to edit, sort, and toss. With a redesign, I recommend that clients not ask us to just migrate everything because inevitably, we’ll migrate content that should be archived or we’ll put content into the wrong place and it gets “lost” forever.

Use a move to re-organize the flow of your house or website. When Maki and I moved into our old house, the garage was pristine. Over time, the garage became a dumping ground for everything: old notes, out of season equipment, holiday decorations, overflow storage for kitchen items, yada, yada. Pretty soon, the garage was a mess and it was hard to find anything. With this move, I’m taking the opportunity to re-organize the garage so that everything has its place, the shelves are properly labeled, and like items are grouped together for easy access. Same with a redesign: don’t just dress up the pages, use the redesign as an opportunity to make it easier for your customers to find information and services. And label everything properly!

If you haven’t used it in a year, toss! My mom always tell me to toss clothes that I haven’t used in a year. While this advice is not always practical (think winter coats and specialty items), I think it makes sense to put into storage, donate or toss things that my family no longer needs. Same with your website. Check your usage reports to see what content is just not getting visited. If the content is no longer relevant or out of date, you’re better off archiving the content offline or simply deleting it. In fact, old content can be a bad thing because Google can index it and serve it up to visitors, which can cause confusion and misinformation.

Organizing takes time. This process has taken more time and energy than I had originally budgeted. So the moral of the story is to allocate enough time to do your content review, then double or triple your estimate.

Get professional help. I’ve blogged in the past about how I worked with a professional organizer to get my house into shape. For the new house, I’m involving C. Lee from SimplifyYou early. She is going to help me figure out where to put mail, how to store kids’ games for easy access, how to organize supplies in the garage, etc. She can tell me what other clients have done and she can recommend products and solutions that would take me hours to research. With a website redesign, I recommend that clients work with us to create the content inventory, site map, migration plan, navigation and taxonomy. We’re able to do the work faster and we can draw on our experiences working with hundreds of other organizations.

Don’t just make the new house a replica of the old house. Sometimes, clients ask us to redesign their websites, but they want the navigation, content and applications to look and work exactly the same way. What is the point then of the redesign? A new website, like a new house, will have similar functions (think kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. or About Us, Contact Us, Calendar, etc.) but the new site should have updated and improved design, flow, content and functions. Now is the time to create a really great About Us page, redo the site search, roll out some new publications and rethink the online store.

The new house is a work in progress and it will take time to get it just right and feeling like home. But the time, money and effort will be more than worth it.

How about you? When was the last time you moved and how did it go? Is it time to “move” or redesign your website to clear out the garbage and create a fabulous, new space?

2 thoughts on “Why a Redesign is Like Moving: Time to Audit Your Stuff and Toss, Toss, Toss

  1. I feel like you wrote this especially for me. We are working on this now ourselves to do what we can before we work with your staff. I like the challenge of organization, but always feel like there’s never enough time.

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