Lesson’s learned from updating a newspaper website design

At least 7 years.  That’s at least how old the previous design was.  It’s probably older than that, but it’s been here since I started working at the newspaper that long ago.  So it was time.

The process began last October (2013).  It’s still on going , but it’s March of 2014.  Here’s a few things that I’ve learned.

  • Don’t move my cheese!  With a 7 year old site people got used to where things were placed on the site.  They don’t like them being moved and you’ll hear about it.
  • 7 year old web sites have a lot of stuff on them and it’s going to take a LONG time to get everything updated to the new design.  I’d add a caveat that if you have a decent CMS and have planned ahead (thought ahead) it may not be as bad (or if you use a bunch of includes…).  If not, have fun.
  • For reason #1, above, have a thick skin.  Even though you know all of the technical reason’s why the site needed to be updated, the non-technical person won’t care.  They just want it to work and to be where it was before.
  • Don’t let your site get 7 years old. Even if it’s only a matter of updating the technology and moving a few things around, don’t let it get that old.  I’d say two to three years is enough. At that point things will have changed and you need to upgrade.  I think at this rate not to many things will have built up and you can upgrade without to many complications.

Lastly, if you find yourself in this situation take your time. Don’t rush anything.  Make sure management is behind you.  There will be things you haven’t planned for, but you’ll get it done.