It’s that time again—your company’s periodic website redesign. Website traffic has been declining along with your customer base. The last website overhaul was three years ago, a few updates have been made since then, and you realize your website is starting to look dated.
Senior management declares that a new website design will restock the customer pipeline. Somehow you get chosen to lead the website revamp team. The instructions are clear: hire the best website design firm within management's budget to make your website better than any of your competitors’. The new site must increase traffic exponentially and have a higher conversation rate. In addition, the website needs to really "pop" and have a “modern vibe.”
Where do you start and how do you keep your sanity?
- Hire the right creative agency. Check out the best website design firms in your city. Look at your competitors’ websites and find out who built them. Don’t write an RFP; interview prospective creative agencies and study their portfolios. Make the business case to hire the best agency for your company, not necessarily the cheapest. Creating a dynamic custom website that evolves with the company is a better investment than building a new site every few years. Allocate resources to maintain the site and keep content current.
- Understand your role. Your team is the expert on your business. The creative agency is the expert on website design and the internet. You: describe your ideal client and why your product or service is unique; explain what you hope to gain from a new website design; provide details about what you do and do not like about your current website. Agency: translate that information into a visual representation; provide the concept and the elements to achieve the client’s goals. Both: work together as a team; value the expertise each participant brings.
- Define your business problems, not the website design elements. You describe problems and your creative agency offers solutions. Listen when the agency explains which problems won’t be solved by a new website. Trust them.
- Set realistic expectations. Understand what a new website will and will not accomplish. For example, website conversation rates average less than 4% for retail and less than 10% for professional services. Set your performance metrics accordingly.
- Give constructive feedback by asking specific questions and providing specific comments. Instead of saying, “The fonts look weird to me,” asking “Why did you choose that title font for product descriptions?” may help you understand how the design elements work together to achieve your stated goals. Instead of saying, “Those photos don’t work for us,” explaining “People in our field wear creative casual attire so photos of people wearing suits make us look out of touch with our industry,” lets the agency know what to change and why.
To help you apply these strategies, think of the services agreement between the creative agency and your team as a road map for working together. Don’t just fill in the blanks on a standard contract. Instead, describe each participant’s roles and how you will work together. Specify goals, deliverables, time frames, deadlines, number of revisions, frequency and manner of feedback. Use the agreement to guide the process.