Conduct research before you begin any redesign. Ask your members, viewers and target market what they want, need and expect from your station as well as your web site.
Consider what you might want to do with your web site in the future and, if possible, build in the flexibility to do that. Even though we launched the new site several months ago, it still doesn’t offer everything we planned - like watching local programs online, more sharing of content, and more offerings for parents and children. The capability is there, we just have to implement it over time. With a small staff (20 total co-workers and just two in our department) and resources, we had to approach the redesign in phases. We also communicated this to the firm that handled the redesign.
We partnered with a marketing agency, a research consulting firm and a web site redesign firm throughout our branding/research process. They donated the majority of their services, which is the only way we would have been able to afford to conduct the research, and make the changes to our web site and brand. These firms helped us know what questions to ask and how. We conducted online polls, focus groups and a tactic we called “feet on the street.” With the latter methodology, we actually took our feet to the street and asked people in public places if they knew about us, what they thought of us, what they liked, what they didn’t like, etc. We targeted places that typical public television viewers would be – places like public libraries, museums, etc.
Broad-based questions about the organization as a whole not only helped us decide what to offer/provide on our web site, but also helped with our strategic planning. This research was key in determining that we not only needed to re-brand ourselves and update our web site, but that we also needed to change our name. We have two transmitters and two sets of call letters. The station, therefore, used an umbrella name East Tennessee Public Television or ETPtv, which led to some confusion about who we were and what we offered. The name change to East Tennessee PBS helped clarify this. The marketing team at PBS was crucial in the decision to change our name.
In addition to our primary research, we poured over the existing suggestions and research from PBS Connect, Station Remote Control, CPB and the National Center for Media Engagement (the PBS Brand Guide was key in the redesign of our brand as well). Combining this information with our primary research gave us a breadth and depth of information we wouldn’t have been able to tap otherwise.
Was the web site redesign done in house or through a contractor?