Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing the same scenario frequently from some potential clients who are requesting estimates for web design work.
We just had our web site redesigned recently, but we hate it! Can you help us redesign and redevelop it?
With prospects like this, we usually set up a time to talk and walk through their current site. We look at what they like (if anything) and what’s not working. These are some of the typical things we see:
- The design is just not working. These issues usually come back to the basics of good design. Making the most important things most prominent. Good, readable typography. Layouts that show balance. Color palettes that work together. Not using cheesy clipart or poor photography.
- The web site is not user-friendly. Sometimes the navigation is difficult to use (example: roll-overs that are twitchy). Or, the content is not organized well so it is difficult to find. Or, the names used in the navigation are not clear what content they refer to.
- The web site is supposed to have a Content Management System (CMS) but the client can’t figure out how to use it. The problem here can be caused by poor training, or poor expectations about what and how you should be able to update content. Or it may be that the developer chose a CMS that is not very user-friendly.
- They are not seeing the results they expected. Web traffic may not be increasing, or viewers are giving them feedback that they cannot find the information they need.
I have a poorly designed site, what should I do?
As I review the site with the prospective client, the conversation often then goes like this:
“We just spent $5,000 on this site, can you use any of it? Because we can’t afford to re do it.”
Unfortunately, they are often stuck because there are so many problems with their web site that we can’t really salvage much. The design is poor, so we’ll need to start over again. Which means we can’t use the HTML or CSS code as we’ll be redeveloping that in conjunction with the new design. And, they don’t like their CMS so we’ll probably be introducing a new one, which means we’ll need to move all their data to a new system.
Since they’re not getting the results they want, we need to look even deeper. They often need a copywriter to make the text clearer or more compelling. They may be relying on product photography that is unprofessional and needs to be re-shot. They may need to rewrite headlines and page titles to make them more SEO-friendly.
The harsh reality: You just wasted a whole lot of money.
What we are often finding is that they need a $10,000 web site solution. And they already wasted $5,000 on a version that is worthless.
It’s usually a case where they didn’t fully understand their own web site needs. Or, they tried to cut corners by using a web design firm that could not handle all the tasks that go into a comprehensive web site design: good design, content review, user interface creation, content management recommendations and implementation, etc.
What to do?
I wish I had better solutions to offer.
Sticking with the same CMS system, and receiving training on how to use it, will definitely make redesign process more cost effective. Sometimes we take that route (but it has to be a CMS platform we understand).
Other times, we plan a complete web site redesign and redevelopment, but we do it in a phased approach. We streamline and reduce content and functionality for the initial launch and then build it back in as the client can afford it. It is far better to have a smaller but more professional and more effective web site.
Sometimes we have to just put the project on hold until they can afford the whole package.