With the growth of responsive design, inbound marketing, personalization and web analytics, websites have become more complex, time-intensive and often expensive. While most clients require these services, often budgets do not keep up with technology, so agencies like RainCastle need to work smart to provide our clients the best and most current services at a reasonable cost.
Understanding how the website fits into your organization provides opportunities for streamlining the web design process, which leads to saving money.
1. Determine if Your Website Redesign is a Strategic or Tactical Project
Depending on your organization, your CEO or CFO will view the website as either a strategic project of critical importance or a tactical project that should basically, "do no harm." There is a gray area in between but the Director or Vice President of Marketing or the CMO, should know what degree of importance this project holds for the organization. Much time, effort and $ can be saved by being clear on this point from the start because a strategic website will involve much more key executive time, and a more sophisticated agency partner providing a greater degree of service than what is required for a tactical website. This reality should be factored into the budget. If lead generation is not a key component of your website, perhaps you don't need an expensive agency that takes a custom approach.
2. Establish a Clear Division of Labor with Your Web Agency
Initially you may assume that once you choose a Web agency partner, they will do the entire website. The reality is that a website project may consume more than a third of your time, if you are your company's point person for the website project. While the agency is responsible for designing, programming, QA and other web activities, you will be reponsible for:
- scheduling executive meeting times, and rescheduling
- establishing and maintaining corporate goals
- maintaining project momentum within your company
- getting input and approvals from all internal or customer resources
- assembling corporate content
- providing messaging feedback
- Leading weekly meetings
- Managing your agency partner
- Managing all of your other work at the same time (Remember, you already have a full time job!)
Because many agencies allocate their resources to your account according to the project schedule, understanding your own time committment will yield a smoother process with less stops and starts, which often add $ and time to a budget due to the agency's reallocation of resources.
3. Don't Write Your Own Copy
"Who knows our business better than us," you may ask? It's a legitimate question to which I'd answer, "Probably nobody." That said, we all know about the shrinking attention span of today's web reader, and we've discussed the internal time commitment required to do a website — on top of your already full-time job. Our experience with B2B websites is that in-house resources also find it challenging to write with brevity and to seamlessly infuse copy with relvant keywords.
Internal copywriting, is the single thing most responsible for broken schedules, which ultimately result in increased $ and more frustration than any other facet of the website design process.
4. Use Design Templates as They Are Intended
A wee bit of "abstract thinking" can go a long way to save time and $ on a typical website project. When designing any website, your web agency will look at the site's Information Architecture (IA), and with an understanding about the content of each web page — from prior discussion with you — will design a "page template," which will establish the design format to be utilized for as many similar type pages as the IA indicates. Where some clients want to see every page of the site individually layed out, costs can escalate. The best way to economize is to create templates with dummy copy, that reflect the amount and types of content the page will ultimately require. This requires that little bit of abstract thinking to imagine your specific copy in the layout, but the agency should write to a word count, which will make the result predictable. Then, once the copy has received final approval, it can all be flowed into each template once, during the Implementation, rather than many times during the Design Phase, thus saving on the time required to flow iterative stages of copy into the templates.
5. Your Corporate Culture May Define Your Website Budget
Within some B2B industries, such as Consulting firms or Architecture, Engineering and Construction firms (A/E/C), decision making is commonly a committee process, often a large committee. While the agency cannot and should not determine the approval process, it is important that businesses that make decisions this way will require more client service, more creative options, more review cycles and a longer schedule. Each of these have budget implications. When possible, a core decision committee of 3 or 4 individuals, is optimal for streamlining a web project and saving $. Organizations that make decisions by committee, should consider if there is a clear line between team members that get to "see" the website in all its phases vs. those that "approve" the website in all its phases.
Bonus point - Try to tie the launch of a new website to an event like a tradeshow, Sales meeting, user conference or major announcement. Having a hard deadline is wonderful for creating urgency and driving decisions!
Considering these 5+ points will either save your organization real money or provide reasonable expectations about what drives costs.