Last year, you finally became so frustrated with your outdated, underperforming website that you started a redesign project. You and your employees worked on writing new text and finding new images, but months passed with little real progress. Now you're so sick of the never-ending project that you're ready to hire a web agency to take it off your hands.
You're not alone. I've spoken with many businesses who've gone through the same process. I hate to break it to you, but please allow me to explain why it's not as simple as having your web agency handle the website redesign without your involvement. A website isn't a hands-off project.
If you're like many of the business owners I've spoken to, here's your dream: hire a web agency, tell them what you want in your website, then have the agency disappear for 2-4 months and come back to unveil your astounding new website.
Unfortunately, that's an unrealistic expectation. A website project is a team sport. You (and your employees) are an integral part of redesigning your website. Why?
Your web agency creates your website with you, not just for you. Your web agency needs your input or feedback in several areas:
In marketing terms, copy refers to text. We (or your web agency) can't write your copy for you, at least not completely. To properly represent you through copy, we must know your "voice" (how you speak), details about your industry, and details about your business, such as your target market, employees, and services you provide.
We need your input to design your website. We need to know about your brand identity (logo, colors, fonts, etc.). We need to know about your target market, so we can ensure the designs fit that audience. And we definitely need to get your feedback during the design process, to make sure we're on the right track.
Your website will allow users (your target market) and your team to do things with it. In order for us to build that functionality, we need to know what things users will need to use your website for (such as navigating blog posts or filling out quote requests). We also need to know how your team will use the website (such as publishing blog posts and editing staff bios). We need you to help us create the use cases, so we know what to build.
Your website is a marketing machine. Its content, design, and functionality need to fit your target market. And you'll need ongoing marketing to bring prospects to your website. You know your target market better than we do, so we need your input. You also know what marketing efforts you've made, what's worked, and what hasn't. That information is valuable for us to know, in crafting your online marketing strategy!
Your web agency can research your market, but there's no way they'll be able to understand it as deeply as you do, especially if the agency isn't one that specializes in your market (for example, you're an IT company and you hire a web agency specializing in IT companies). And even if it is an agency that specializes in your market, it still won't have the unique insights you have about your particular clients and prospects.
For these reasons, a website redesign is a collaborative effort. You know your market, and your web agency knows the Web (how to bring prospects to your website, and how to convert them into leads or sales).
A web agency can follow best practices in building your website, but it should adapt the website to fit your desires and abilities. A custom website is, well, customized for its owners. And customization requires knowing the owners' goals and preferences.
Your agency will make recommendations based on best practices and their experience, but you need to decide whether those recommendations are the right fit for your business. You need to have conversations with your agency. Neither party should be dictating the direction of the engagement without consulting the other.
Even after the website redesign is complete, you'll want to stay involved in website changes, maintenance, and marketing efforts. Your agency will monitor the website and continue to apply best practices and what they've learned from working with you, but you'll also want to give your input on how you're seeing things from within the business.
So, you see, a website redesign isn't a hands-off experience. But you don't want it to be! You want to take advantage of the strengths of both your team and your web agency.
Of course, because your agency handles so much of the project, you still greatly reduce the workload on your team. In our process, we front-load your involvement much as possible. We know you have a business to run, and you need to focus on that.
We've had clients who try to take the hands-off approach, so despite our requests for their involvement, they don't provide us any. We do the best we can without them. Surprise, surprise, later they don't like a decision we made for them, or they're not happy about the results they're getting. I really wish they had chosen to be more involved in the process, before it came to that point. Don't make the same mistake!
Do you see now why the success of your website redesign requires you to be involved? Are you ready to take advantage of the strengths of both your team and a web agency? If so, contact us to talk about your website project. We look forward to teaming up with you!
This is our number one problem in the web design industry. A lot of web designers just know how to setup a website (which anyone can do nowadays) and not work with the client in content creation. Instead they would just leave it to the client saying things like you must give us the content not even giving guidelines or proper instruction on what content is needed. Often times these website projects will go on for months leaving clients extremely unhappy and rightfully so. At the same time it's clients' fault for choosing the cheapest option when picking a service provider hoping to save a few bucks, in the end you do get what you pay for. It's also web designers' faults for mislabeling their services in order to make a quick buck.
I appreciate your sharing your thoughts, and I'm glad to hear you're doing your part to solve the problem!
Sadly I think this is a lot to ask from most clients, although I'm thinking of small/local businesses in particular. If I asked them for their copy they'd have no idea what I'm even talking about. Seems like it's better to combine web design and content creation into one package.
Edward, I agree that many businesses need help with content creation along with web design and development. In the post, I don't recommend that you simply ask clients for their copy; I explain what copy means, and I say that the agency needs the client's input or feedback so the agency can write the copy:
Even a small business should be able to provide such details and assist an agency in creating their site copy/text.