Archive for the ‘Website Planning’ Category·
Monday, March 26th, 2012
Taking up a website redesign project can be a daunting task for a business owner or marketing manager. There is a lot of complexity and discussions that have to be made in order to have a successful outcome. I’ve recently come across a few business people who have told me how they have been burned by their web designer when redesigning their website.
Weather it’s unmet expectations, poor quality work or unmet deadlines, too often people are left disappointed by the end result of their redesign project.
Here’s how not to get burned by your web designer.
You don’t need to be an expert, but having a grasp on where the web, social media and the internet in general is going is a good idea. Before you hire someone, give yourself a good 3-4 hours of study. Do this by reading top technology blogs like Mashable, and design blogs like Smashing Magazine. This will help you become prepared for hiring the right designer or firm.
Expect Good Communication
In any project, on the web or off, good communication is key to success. Be sure that when you are talking with your web designer that you have a good chemistry and communicate easily. This can save you from a ton of huge headaches in the future.
Expect A Thorough Quote
When getting quotes, expect a detailed one—not an email. There are some designers who, when asked for a quote, simply shoot off an email saying something like, “That would be around $xx,xxx”. This is a red flag, in my opinion. A designer who isn’t willing to put in the time to have a chat with you and write out a detailed quote on exactly what you are asking for, is more than likely not a professional. The communication will probably be poor and your expectations not met. Be sure to get a detailed quote that breaks dow exactly what you are getting, why you are getting it and the total investment involved.
Don’t Assume, Ask
If you are not sure if a certain feature is included in the quote, don’t just assume that it is. Ask your designer if that feature is going to end up in the final project. A good designer will gather the majority of the details of your project in the pre-bid discussions. Look over the features that are listed in the proposal/quote that is sent to you and ask questions if you are not sure if something is included. By default, extra features are not included, so be upfront and ask. This way you will get an accurate quote and wont be burned in the end.
Check The Portfolio
Look at previous work of the designer/studio to make sure that they have the experience necessary to bring your project from concept to reality. I’ve seen too many businesses hire “designers” with no portfolio or experience and regret it in the end. Even though the inexperienced designer may cost less, you need to see that they can deliver up-to or beyond your expectations. Many times, unfortunately, they cannot.
Overall, Expect Professionalism
Let’s face it, there is no shortage of people who can build a website for you. The question is, how are they going to do it, and how is the process going to be? Will you be pleased with the results? Are you going to enjoy the experience? If you do your due diligence and expect a friendly, professional experience, you will most likely get it and save yourself from getting burned.
Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Planning a website re design can be a huge undertaking. There are many decisions to be made and, depending on the size of your firm, many stakeholders with ideas and opinions on what direction to take with the site. Having a plan is essential to the success of a website re-design. Without a plan, a great deal of time can be wasted, content lost, goals can be left unachieved and fundability can suffer. With a good plan, the opposite can happen. You can work efficiently, increase the quality and accessibility of your content, and increase your traffic and findability online.
Here are some key things that will help you devise a great plan for your re-design.
Select a point person
Having one single person on your team responsible for the web project is essential. A group or comity approach to a re-design project is asking for trouble. It’s good to have a team with ideas and input for the project, however, having a point person responsible for all of the decisions concerning the re-design will help to streamline the process. Otherwise, you can get into the quagmire of “design by comity”, which can delay projects costing valuable time and money.
If you are the CEO, CMO or owner of the firm, you may want to take this on yourself. However, realize that a lot of time and involvement is required, so you may find it beneficial to delegate the re-design project to someone within your firm.
If you do delegate this responsibility, give that person complete trust and ownership of the project. This will help to focus your team on the project and keep it from experiencing costly delays.
Define Your Goals
What is the purpose of this re-design? What business objectives do you wish to achieve that you aren’t already? Take a good hard look at your current site and ask yourself. “What are we not doing now that we would like to do?”
Some examples of goals may be:
- Generate more leads
- Aid the sales team in the sales process
- Increase brand equity
- Increase social interaction
- Increase traffic
- Decrease time spent on the phone with clients
- Re position your firm in the market
- Attract a certain type of client to your firm
Once you have clear goals, then you only need to decide what the best way to achieve those goals are through your website.
Ask Your Team
Have your staff review your website with your current list of goals in mind. Have them give you, and your point person feedback on what they think needs to change. It’s especially important to listen to the departments that will be most affected by the change. For example, if you are looking to help your sales staff in the sales process by offering lead generation content to your users, you need to ask the sales team what it is that would help them close more sales. Or, if you are looking to decrease the time that your customer service reps are on the phone with clients, you should ask them how they think the website could help lessen the burden of customer service without compromising the quality.
Listen to your team, but don’t take their responses as gospel—they are subjective. Many times what the organization thinks is necessary is not what the client, or prospect thinks is necessary.
Ask your clients
Get in touch with a few of your best clients and ask them to review your site. Ask them what they would find helpful on the site.
Ask your clients to perform a task, such as, sign up for the newsletter, or find our resources page and download a PDF. This can get you some real clarity of the opportunities to better your website.
Also, if you can get feedback from clients that got away, do it. This can be an enlightening experience. Getting real about what your site needs is crucial when it comes to re-designing. We often think that we need something changed, or moved, when it is something else entirely that the user (leads, clients) needs.
Focus more on what your users need and less on what you think they need and you will be on the right track for a successful re-design.
Look At Your Traffic Sources
Where are you getting your visitors from? Is it Google? Facebook? Linked-In? Twitter? Could it be mostly direct traffic from handing out business cards and other literature? Knowing where your visitors are coming from is a great way to plan your re-design decisions. If most of your visitors are coming through Google searches, you will most likely want to be very careful with your current pages and content. Deleting old content without properly redirecting the pages can have serious implications on your search rankings. Also, see where your visitors are navigating to when they land on your site through Google. What pages are they interested in? How can you redesign the site to increase the traffic to these pages? How can you make it easier for your users to find what they are looking for? If you are getting traffic from other sources, such as social media sites or direct traffic, you should use other tactics to guide users to the content that they are looking for. Always keep your goals in mind as well when you think about guiding the user to what they want. Thinking win-win when it comes to a professional services website re-design is essential. Using Google Analytics on your current site will give you a truckload of insight on how you should go about re-designing.
Having a great plan in place is vital to a successful website re-design. Skipping the planning phase can cause many problems with the project. In contrast, fully devoting to the planning phase can help your website actually help your firm accomplish the goals that you have set out to achieve.
What are some ways that you have planned a re-design that have been successful? What are some questions that you may have when it comes to a re-design project. Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.
Tags: Design Strategy, Professional Service Website Re-design, Web design planning, Website Redesign, Website Strategy
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