You only spend your weekends viewing houses when you’re ready to move. You only test drive cars when you’re getting ready to buy one. So it seems pretty obvious that you’d only approach web design agencies when you need a new website, right?
Actually, I’m here to tell you otherwise. You see, responding to a need is reactive rather than proactive. And reactive solutions don’t allow for the same level of planning and are therefore less likely to be as effective.
So instead, you should look for a new digital partner when you’re not thinking about redesigning your website. Let me explain…
Just another statistic
Currently most website owners look for new web design partners when they are already unhappy with their current design. The first step in that new relationship is usually to throw all existing web property out of the window and start from scratch.
I dare say it’s obvious that even the worst websites out there can reveal interesting insights into the way users interact so long as they are analysed properly. With that in mind, it’s painfully obvious that whoever designs the new website should really get to grips with the existing website before pushing a single pixel. But alas, the website owner is already sick of the existing design, wants a new one ASAP and probably won’t be happy to be told to live with the current one for a second longer.
So what happens? The new agency designs and builds something that – despite rounds of strategic scoping, speculative wire-framing and emphasis on UI/UX standards – is essentially a ‘best practice’ website. The problem with best practices is that they amount to ‘one-size-fits-all’ thinking. They are defined by ever-evolving averages; and as a result tend to generate mediocre results.
But marketing is all about differentiating, so sitting on the fence won’t ‘wow’ anyone; website owner included.
So-called enhancements often deteriorate websites
So if step one is the creation of a mediocre website, step two is inevitably going to be improving it; through a combination of analytical study, conversion rate optimisation, added functionality, copy tweaks and SEO.
However, as a website is pulled and pushed from pillar to post, the original design concept becomes diluted. That includes all of that hard work on UI/UX standards done right at the start; it includes the subtlety of the online branding. Ultimately, you end up with a Frankenstein’s website that could have been coded, designed and marketed much more effectively had the strategy been right in the first place.
A year or two later, the website isn’t performing as well as the owner now sees it could have, love has therefore been lost in the relationship and the time comes for yet another redesign with a yet another web design agency…
The most common process driving website redesigns is currently as follows:
- Wait until desperation sinks in.
- Frantically chase unreliable quotes from agencies that have not had enough time to truly understand the unique requirements and goals.
- Get rid of all statistical data that could help direct the creation of something unique and tailored.
- Create a mediocre website that adheres to best practices but makes very little impact.
- Chop, change and distort that website.
- Get sick of it and start the whole process again.
The more efficient way to go about it would be:
- Find a new web design agency when your website is performing fairly well or when you have exhausted the creative thinking of your incumbent agency.
- Give your new partner agency access to all of the tools at your disposal to help them understand how your current website is being used.
- Also help them to understand where you want to take your business/brand over the next 5 or 10 years.
- Co-create a brief and conduct a GAP analysis, combining your vision and hands-on experience with their technical knowledge and affinity for practical solutions.
- Only begin to redesign and redevelop the site when the historic data is understood and the long-terms goals are defined.
- Hey Presto! Your new website hasn’t even gone live yet, but you’re already immersed in the most intimately involved digital agency relationship you’ve ever had. As a result, things will be much less likely to go awry post-launch.
Remember that the best defence is a good offence! Success in the digital world depends entirely upon foundations and your online brand simply cannot grow without a sustainable approach. The aim is to build on what you have before you get sick of it and feel the need to start from scratch.