Getting the Budget for a Website Redesign and New CMS

fundingYou know what you need to do. You know how you need to do it. You just don’t have the money to pay for it. Sound familiar?

A website redesign project requires funds. You might need a budget for hiring freelancers or external partners who will collaborate on your digital strategy, design, content, and implementation. Beyond that, you may need cash to pay for a new content management system (CMS).

How do you do make it happen? How do you get the funding for a website redesign and a new CMS?

There are two steps:

  1. Prepare your case.
  2. Ask.

Prepare your case.

There’s nothing like writing it all out as a way to force you to clearly and succinctly articulate what you want to accomplish and why. Preparing a slide deck to help organize your thoughts might be used with advisory groups or the leadership who will ultimately grant your budget request. Use concise language (no jargon!) to describe why you need to redesign your website.

To make your case, include the following nine proof points:

  1. Trends and best practice.
    Educate your leadership about the importance of the website. Connect the dots to help them understand the reach of your website and its value for recruiting students and engaging alumni donors. Make it clear that the website is infrastructure that requires investment. It is the 24/7 enterprise platform for communicating with the audiences you need to influence.
  2. The importance of mobile.
    Mobile stopped being a trend a while ago. Your site must be usable on mobile devices. Frankly, “going mobile” is one of those reasons that campus leaders pay attention to by default. Use that to your advantage!
  3. Metrics.
    Even the most basic analytics can confirm that your website is the flagship communication vehicle. Include the metrics that your leadership team cares most about. Perhaps the total number of off-campus visitors in a one-year period or the percentage of mobile traffic to your site.
  4. Institutional goals.
    Tie the website redesign project to your institution’s business priorities and, if possible, to a strategic plan. Make it clear that the website supports goals tied to enrollment, fundraising, alumni engagement, and reputation.
  5. Similar projects at other institutions.
    Campus leadership is often influenced by what peers and competitors are doing. Reference redesign projects at institutions from your official peer set and at cross-app institutions (or at your president’s prior institution).
  6. Deficiencies of your site.
    Summarize what’s really wrong with your site. Typically, you need a fresh, contemporary design, a new information architecture, an easier way to edit and publish content. Include specifics such as, “We have not reorganized the site since 2005,” or “The copy on the top-level pages is 10 years old and not optimized for search engines.”
  7. Total dollars needed.
    Contact possible freelancers, partners and CMS vendors to get a sense of the funds needed for your project. You will be more credible if you can talk with some specificity about costs.
  8. Possible sources of funding.
    Perhaps you can get an advance commitment of funds from IT, Communications, Advancement, or Admissions. Your case is stronger if you have agreements for partial funding from other campus units.
  9. A real project plan.
    A high-level plan (including total cost) that you’ve vetted with others goes a long way toward making your case. (Be sure to pre-enlist the support of admissions and fundraising leaders.) Campus executives are looking for consensus. If you present an option already agreed upon by others, it’s more likely that your leader will agree and act more quickly.

Ask.

Don’t wait for it to happen — you have to ask. First, get in front of those who can support the request. Next, your boss. Then others with power and influence on campus — maybe the dean of one of your schools or a new executive everyone on campus seems to be paying attention to. Ultimately, you need to go to the person who holds the purse strings.

  • Make it an in-person request.
    It’s best if you can look someone in the eye to make your case. Try to schedule an in-person meeting with the executive who can authorize the website redesign project.
  • Sell your plan.
    Make your presentation high level but also high impact (use the slide deck you created). You are selling an idea and using your facts and preparation to get support for the project.

Good luck!

I’ve been there and done this. Have a question? Want 15 minutes of free advice? Send me an email.

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