As a business owner, successfully designing or revamping your website can be a daunting task.
Why is it so tough?
Outsourcing it can be overwhelming, with options ranging from moonlighting college students to huge national agencies; prices range from one thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. And, even if you have the skills, doing it yourself may not be the best use of your time. It’s enough to give you indigestion.
Good news! We have the perfect recipe for a successful website design project that will leave you satisfied and content (and get results!).
Ingredient #1: Strong Client Vision
I know, I know. You were expecting me to share everything a web agency should do for you, but guess what: you have complete control over one of the most important ingredients -- your vision for the site!
Taking time before starting a redesign project to map out a) your organizational goals, and b) how your web presence will support those goals is THE foundation of the entire project. Plus, if you are working with a good web company they are going to ask for this anyways.
Other important things to think through:
- Who are your primary audiences?
- What calls-to-action should be on the site?
- What is your desired look and feel?
- What content needs do you have?
- Where will you obtain photos?
- What other websites you like or dislike and why?
By answering these questions you can gain a clear vision of how your site will differentiate you from your competitors. It will also be easy to communicate this vision quickly to potential web partners. (We actually have a nifty project questionnaire with all these questions we give to prospective clients - you can view it here)
Ingredient #2: Strong Agency Strategic InputYou are responsible for the vision ingredient. But a good web agency should be able to interpret that vision and provide strategic input, apply current technology and use clear processes to offer “right-sized” technology recommendations. If you meet with an agency that pushes latest technology trends or makes recommendations that don’t seem in alignment with your business goals or target audiences, steer clear. Find a company that offers web solutions in a way you can understand and feel confident about, as well as ones that reflect your company brand and focus on the needs of your potential customers. a
Ingredient #3: CommunicationOur web project recipe calls for a double portion of the “communication” ingredient. Even more than technical skills, good communication at every step of your project is critical to its success. If a web agency provides a scope of work that doesn’t clearly define the project goals and deliverables, they have failed to deliver this ingredient. Technical knowledge is not required to read a proposal and determine if it will deliver the site you need at a price reflective of its value.
Getting internal stakeholder buy-in is another example of the importance of good communication. If you are a one-person company and can make all the decisions, great! But most of us need input from co-workers or higher ups to make sure the new website will work for all departments. Getting internal participation and feedback, then clearly communicating that to your web agency will help the process go smoothly.
Some other examples of how both an agency and a client can contribute the communication ingredient:
An agency should:
- Provide a clear, simple to understand proposal without jargon
- Speak and write in layman’s terms
- Provide tools that help the client communicate their needs
- Provide a simple, clear process for the project -- make it easy!
- Provide the agency with clear vision and direction
- If you don’t understand something -- ask!
- Use tools made available to you by the agency -- they’ve done this a lot
Ingredient #4: Client LeadershipSorry, we’re back to you again. You thought you could outsource all of this, didn’t you? Well, at each stage your leadership is necessary to keep the website project on track. How can you lead? Some examples:
- Make sure you understand the scope of the project right from the start
- Give feedback on the agency’s approach -- is it supporting your vision?
- Use the skills of your design partner -- they are technical professionals; it’s what you’re paying them for.
- Expect timeliness, clear communication and solid solutions from your agency. If you don’t get these, speak up right away.
Ingredient #5: Digital Agency SkillsYup, finally. Something the agency needs to contribute. Maybe you initially thought this was the only ingredient. But these technical skills, while extremely important, are pretty useless without all the other ingredients.
Your agency has very specific skills such as strategic thinking, graphic design, programming and coding, search engine optimization, user experience design, effective project management and more. These skills combined with all the other critical ingredients above are truly the best recipe for a successful website.
I hope this will help you feel a little more empowered and in control when starting a new company website. Pairing your vision and leadership with the right, results-driven agency will result in a powerful program that will grow your business.