• traditional web design broken

Why is Traditional Website Design Broken?

The old approach to web design shifts all the risk away from your web design company and toward your organization. Understand the business risks you’re taking with traditional web design contracts and how the wrong game plan can lead to big problems for you. You shouldn’t be writing big checks without knowing what you’re getting and whether it stands to bring measurable results.

Your website is your #1 sales tool. It is the centerpiece of all of your marketing activities and it’s almost always the first place that people are going to look to when investigating your business. Think of your website as your best sales person. It’s always on, and always working for you.

Current research says that a prospect has progressed 70% through the decision- making process before ever reaching out to your sales team for the first time.

Your website is where they are finding information and forming opinions of whether or not to do business with you. But a crappy company website may not be your fault. It is likely much to do with the development process.

Review of the Traditional Website Design Processes

It’s always interesting to hear about the past experiences that people have had with website redesign projects. Managers and business owners are usually pretty disgusted.

Most see a looming website redesign as a huge headache waiting to happen. For many, they’ve been assigned the task by their boss. Others have been procrastinating and their current website is just too brutal to tolerate any longer.

It’s understandable. Web design is not a core competency in most companies. Redesign projects often pull staff and resources away from regular responsibilities.

If a website hasn’t delivered much real value in the past, there’s not much reason to believe that a fresh website will be any different. Frustrating.

Think back to the last time you took on a website build or redesign project and ask yourself:

  • How would you describe the experience?
  • What are some things that went right and wrong
  • How much time and effort did it take to finally go live?
  • Was the project on time?
  • On budget?
  • How much has the site improved since launch?
  • How exciting is the prospect of another redesign?

Based on conversations we have every day, it’s pretty likely that you didn’t enjoy the website redesign process. Results have been either minimal or not measurable at all. You may have accepted the fact that building your website is filled with risk, bother and brain damage…for negligible ROI. You are probably right.

Traditional website design processes are set up to shift the majority of the risk away from the developer and toward the customer. Developers rarely have any skin in the game in terms of overall business value and success of the redesign.

The Risks of Traditional Website Design

Risk: Big Up-Front Cost

The average medium-sized business website runs between $15,000 and $75,000. This is a meaningful line item for most companies. It’s not only hard to budget for this expense all at once, but many contracts call for this money to be committed before you ever know what kind of impact the work will have on your business.

Risk: Vague Deliverables

Treating your website redesign as a one-off project means that the development firm needs to price out everything they’re going to be doing for you. With all the nuances of your company, industry, market positioning, existing processes, preferences, and many other moving parts, it’s almost impossible for your developer to predict all that is needed. Knowing relatively little about your organization, they are very likely to miss the mark. This uncertainty means they’re going to err on the side of caution in their agreements – adding protections and costs in their contracts. I suppose it’s understandable from their perspective.

Risk: Big Opportunity Costs

The burden of a website redesign is not just financial. The average website takes 3 – 6 months to complete using traditional methods and requires an awful lot of energy and resources from your team. You’re pulling energies away from regular work responsibilities and committing them to the redesign – with no business results to show for it until well after launch (at best). In fact, jobs can often be on the line in some cases.

Risk: Late, Over Budget and Inflexible

As diligent as you are in planning out the project, there will always be tons of unknowns and unforeseen variables in pretty much any project. Lots can change in the months during your redesign. It’s extremely hard to accurately quote the cost and time frame to completion under these circumstances. You might spot an opportunity mid-project, but you’re unable to shift focus due to the scope of your contract. By the way, lose the thought of “completion”. It doesn’t exist.

It’s commonplace for projects run late and over budget. Development companies will “pad” their pricing estimates depending on the level of uncertainty. Delays to completion mean delayed returns on investment, reflecting poorly in the eyes of your boss or other stakeholders.

Risk: Subjective Design Decisions & No Results Guarantee

At the end of the day, the whole reason to redesign your website is to improve measurable business results. Whatever metrics are important to your group, the new site should move the needle. Otherwise, why bother?

After all the time, energy and money you’ve invested in the redesign, how do you (or your design agency) know that the website will perform optimally? The answer is you don’t. It’s impossible.

Decisions based on some opinions, research, the word of a website “expert”, or on what’s worked in the past is educated guessing at best.

Tactics are often deployed based on subjective beliefs in what may be considered a high-performing website. Decisions are never validated to see if they were ever effective. Just because everyone has a “Contact Us” form doesn’t necessarily mean you need one.

Risk: There’s Nothing Left for Refinements

After launch, a typical website goes without major updates for 1 to 2.5 years. We get it…you’re sick and tired of dealing with that website and you’re really glad it’s off your table. You’ve also probably spent a huge chunk of your budget on the new build, with little left over for adjustments down the road. The problem is, your website may not be on anyone’s table for a while.

If we recognize that uncertainty brings the chance that your new website may not be optimal, then it stands to reason we should be able to make adjustments downstream.

Whatever the excuse might be, “no more budget”, “no time”, or “focusing on other things”, businesses let their #1 marketing asset sit relatively unchanged for years.

This is clearly not a way to maximize performance, yet it’s the norm. Sure, you might be adding a page here or there, posting to the blog or social media when you feel inspired, or swapping out a banner image or two. The vast majority of the site remains neglected and unchecked.

The Marketing Shift You Need to Make

Let’s look at the website redesign process from a different angle. We should find an improved process that avoids all the risks outlined above – risks that you’d never allow to occur in other areas of your business.

The bottom line with traditional web design is that you really don’t know what you’re going to get, what you’re going to pay, and how effective the solution might be. That’s not a strategy.

Let’s produce a site that gets you up and running really quickly and on budget – one that we know is measurably performing optimally and remains agile enough to continually deliver return on investment. In theory, if it’s done right, you should never have to go through a “website redesign” ever again.

There is a process that guarantees all these things – it’s called Value Driven Design

Guide to Redesigning Your Website

The Launch Phase

Continuous Improvement Phase

Final Thoughts & Steps to Take