It can happen to anyone and happens more often than we like. You hire a web design company or developer to build a website with the loftiest of goals, only to be served up a web asset that’s nothing like you envisioned.
Oh, maybe there were some red flags along the way that you overlooked. Maybe you didn’t vet your developer or web design company carefully enough. Maybe they assured you that delays were a natural part of the process. Or maybe they promised you that even though each deliverable was different than you imagined, the end result would come together as your vision brought to life in perfect form.
Regardless of how it happened, your new website doesn’t cut it. What happens now?
Damage Control Strategies
While the obvious answer is to ditch the website (and the developer) to start from scratch, most companies don’t have the budget to commit to an entirely new redesign. In situations like these, it’s time to talk damage control.
Consider a New Developer or Web Design Company
Be honest, here—do you share the blame for an unsatisfactory product and false expectations? Did you communicate your goals clearly? Did they try to work with you to create more reasonable expectations?
If your web design company or developer suffers from a poor process (as noted above) it might be best to find a new partner. But this is certainly more time-consuming than working with one who has already taken a stab at your web design, and if you didn’t do your part in the company/client relationship, it could be easier to give them another chance.
Review Your Scope of Work or Technical Requirements
Maybe your web design company over-promised and under-delivered. Or maybe your expectations weren’t clearly outlined in your scope of work. Either way, go back to this crucial blueprint and see where they went off course. Speak to your web design company and work to build a new scope of work with clearer goals and deliverables. Use structured wireframes for mock-ups and make sure your project manager or developer clears each decision with you before continuing.
Don’t Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water
Even if your website is a mess, there are probably some elements working right. You don’t need to scrap your entire website just because the design layout is wrong or the navigation is a mess. Do a full audit of the website and mark down where the web design company or developer went wrong. Was it the codebase? Compatibility with other platforms like your CRM? Then, see if it’s possible to adapt from there.
Make Testing an Inseparable Part of the Process
It’s one thing if the disaster relates to superficial issues, such as design aesthetics or missing CTAs, but what happens when the functionality is a mess? If your web design company or developer moved fast and didn’t perform adequate testing during each phase of the lifecycle, it’s time to start. Have the web design company or developer test each aspect to find configuration glitches and accessibility issues. It is common for the web design company to do internal testing and then hand the website over for user acceptance testing prior to going live. Unfortunately, most web design agencies do not have an internal quality assurance testing process or employees dedicated to testing, so make sure you ask what that process looks like beforehand.
Launch Your Site—But Be Ready to Adapt
If you’re on a tight timetable, you may need to launch your website even if it’s not 100 percent ready. And that’s okay. But remember, your website isn’t really a product, it’s a service. After it goes live (which can take 24-72 hours to propagate), you’ll have time to adapt and make changes based on your users’ needs. It is perfectly normal to have a few small things that need to be fixed upon launch of a new website. The worst thing you can do is act like the house is on fire for things such as broken links (that’s an easy two second fix) or typos in the content.
It’s in everyone’s best interest to get it right on the first go, but keep in mind that there are plenty of companies out there who specialize in post-launch support, maintenance, and hosting of your website. You can also consider things post launch such as A/B testing, heat mapping, monitoring of Google Analytics, etc. These experts can help you improve your web development efforts, no matter how much of a disaster they may be.