Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

Six Ways to Quickly Kill Your Website Design Project

First spend a little bit of time on introspection, education, and research

If you’re considering embarking on a website design project, you’re most likely venturing into unchartered territory. Or, at the very least, headed down a path you only travel down every five or so years. Because of this “path not taken”, the road is many times bumpy and it is easy to get side tracked or completely lost along the way.

Each week I receive a lot of incoming requests for web design quotes and proposals. I ultimately work with a lot of different small business and personality types. Regardless of the industry, business age, or business owner, many entrepreneurs and small businesses tend to run into the same roadblocks and they typically kill their projects in six quick and (unfortunately) efficient ways.

1. An Unrealistic Budget

Many times an entrepreneur or small business owner will set a budget for website design well before they have researched market conditions to see if their budget is realistic. They decide on an amount they can pay and not necessarily an amount they need to pay to obtain their marketing goals.

I frequently get long lists of functionality requirements from people who claim to have limited or no budgets for the project. While I typically receive five or so of these per week, I am still surprised each time I open my email to find one.

As a possible technology partner, I am hesitant to engage with someone who has a large list of needs and has no means by which to pay for the execution of these requirements. It isn’t that I don’t want to help, it is more the fact that these statements show a lack of research and time spent in planning the website project.

I know website design isn’t something people deal with very often, so by definition, the project can be challenging. Let’s compare it to something most people are familiar with – buying a car. If you’re shopping for a car, you generally know your budget and you tailor your needs to match you available funds. Most people don’t head over to the Lexus dealership and upon walking through the door, announce they have a budget capable of purchasing a 1975 pinto. You can’t purchase a car that way and you can’t court a website designer that way either.

2. Undefined Functional Requirements

For every “I have no budget” email I receive, I also receive emails that tell me they “hate their existing website”, need help, and want a quote or proposal. I am happy to provide a proposal, but on what I’m not sure. Proposals for web design are based on complexity of the build, template variations, quantity of content to build out, and functional requirements. If I know answers to none of those items, I will struggle providing an accurate quotation. In all actuality I won’t quote. I’ll send the requestor an email asking for more project specifics. If they won’t and/or can’t take the time to provide detailed responses, I won’t take the time to provide a proposal.

That may seem harsh, but I’m protecting you as the client and me as the developer. Nothing makes me happier than a prospect that pops up with a detailed RFP or list of needs. I take that back. I’ll be even happier if you’ve already shopped around and spoken with web designers. That means you are educating yourself and you are making a strategic decision. This is good for me and it is really good for you.

3. Vague Visual Requirements

I’m an opinionated woman who knows what she likes. Whether it is my own company’s website, my car, or my home – I have strong opinions on what things should look like. This kills my husband at times, but it does provide value in business.

I have clients and have talked to many prospects who tell me they really don’t have any idea what they’d like their future website to look like. It just needs to be new. Great! How about purple and pink poke dots? No I didn’t think so. But I won’t know what is good unless you can articulate what you do or do not want or like.

As your website design I want to create a website that makes you happy. Really that is what it boils down to for us creative types. I need you to help me understand what does make you happy and then we will both be happy with the final project.

Deciding what type of websites you like is hard, but it is possible. Most people do spend time on the internet and it is really a matter of stopping yourself when you see a website that makes you happy. Stop and think what it is about the home page or inner pages that you find appealing. Is it a lot of white space, the color scheme, the content placement, or the clearly defined navigation? Once you start answering those questions, you’ll be able to define what type of website you want for your own business.

4. Reused and Stale Content

I’d say about one third of my website design clients end up telling me to “just use the existing content”. Or in other words, “I’m happy to spend thousands on web design, but I don’t have the time to write fresh content.” To these clients they need their website freshened up. To them, fresh means look and feel, but not words. To the visitors of their website, fresh means both look and feel and current content.

I always find it hard to believe that a business can leave website content that is five years old in place and not have it be, well, wrong. My business has changed substantially over the last three years and as a result my website content has changed too.

If you are taking the time to have a new website designed for your business, take the time to rewrite and/or update your existing content to make sure it matches the brand you want to project. Your online image is about visual and contextual elements, so take this opportunity to position your company in the best way possible.

5. No Call to Actions

A call to action is simply an action, step, or process you’d like your website visitors to do when they arrive to your website. Every website should have some semblance of a call to action. It could be a newsletter subscription, a lead submission, a purchase, or a white paper download. It could be as simple as a phone call. Regardless of the complexity of the action, know that there is, in fact, a desired outcome for every website visit.

Good website design requires that we know these call to actions before we set forth on the design itself. We want the website home page and sidebars to present these call to actions in the best possible manner. We want the website to work for you. Working means encouraging visitors to perform your most important call to actions.

I typically don’t expect prospects or clients to come to me knowing what call to actions they’d like. But I do need them to work with me to figure them out. And I won’t accept “we don’t have call to actions”. If you want people to visit your website, then you must want them to do something while there, so we do in deed have call to actions.

6. Ignoring SEO

When I first started my consulting firm I would force SEO on people. I just felt so passionate about the benefits of search engine optimization, I wanted the world to drink my SEO Kool-Aid so they too could get oodles of free traffic from organic search.

The problem is that some people feel they don’t need SEO. They believe in pay per click campaigns or telemarketing or some other method to drive traffic. They simply don’t see the value in SEO. In many cases it is simply because they’ve never done SEO right so it hasn’t produced any tangible results. They simply don’t know what they don’t know.

Earlier this year I adjusted our website design packages to allow for web design projects without SEO. It was hard for me to do it, but I realized that I couldn’t change the mind of ever WordPress user in the world. Some people really only want a custom WordPress theme and they don’t want my full-blown website development projects. Even though I’ve made a bit of a compromise, I still 100% believe in the power of SEO. And as a business owner who uses a company website for marketing, you should too.

If you are spending the time and money to redesign your website, take an additional week to do keyword research, content creation, and some on-page optimization. Good SEO will make a difference and it will absolutely help in delivering a faster ROI for your web design project.

The Take Away

The take away is simple. Before you spend a lot of time and money on website development, or even just a custom WordPress theme, spend a little bit of time on introspection, education, and research. The small delay will help make sure you and your website designer are on the right path and it will help guide your project towards a successful outcome.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Rebecca Gill

Founder and President of Web Savvy Marketing, a Michigan based internet marketing firm that specializes in website design, organic SEO, social media marketing, and WordPress consulting.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
The hierarchical architecture that distributes "compute" within the network specially at the edge can enable new services by harnessing emerging technologies. But Edge-Compute comes at increased cost that needs to be managed and potentially augmented by creative architecture solutions as there will always a catching-up with the capacity demands. Processing power in smartphones has enhanced YoY and there is increasingly spare compute capacity that can be potentially pooled. Uber has successfully ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...