(And how to avoid headaches in the process)
We recently redesigned and redeveloped our website. It had been several years since we had looked, really looked, at our site. Over the past year or so, we had been working on some great projects and we felt that our website was not going to show these to their best potential. So we took the initiave and redesigned our website from the ground up, from aesthetics to functionality.
It was going to be easy, we do this for a living after all, we do it for our clients every day. Or so we thought. While redeveloping our site we ran, sometimes headfirst, into hurdles along the way. And while at times these may seem insurmountable, they can also offer valuable lessons and insights for the future and ultimately made our website a better experience, for our clients and future clients.
As designers it can be very easy to fall into the trap of building a site for yourself and neglecting your customers. Before beginning a design process it is always worth asking ‘Who is this for and how will they use it?’ Its very likely that the way you use and interact with your own website is very different from the way your customers and clients use it. Think about what your customers want, and give it to them in an simple and straightforward manner.
Everyone has an expensive toy; be it a camera, a walkman (remember those?), a must-have gadget that was bought with all the best intentions in the world, now gathering dust on a shelf. Your website can become that expensive toy. Is your website gathering dust? Do you use it to its full potential, as a shop-front, as a marketing tool, a vital way to reach to and interact with your clients? Or is your website the equivalent to a business card with contact details and little else or a news section that has not been updated since it went live? It is always worth examining your website and those of your competitors, see how they measure up and see what you, and they, are doing right and wrong. Learn from it and take your site off the shelf. Dust it down and make it work harder for you.
A well written brief will highlight the important elements of a redesign and will help to focus on them and allow for the best results. It can be akin to a recipe, and sometimes it can allow for some wild experimentation, creating the most fantastic dishes. It can be very tempting to keep refining and tweaking, which can result in huge changes to the very essence of the design. What a good brief ensures though, like a good recipe, is that the end result, is both pleasing to eye and palatable.
At the development stage it can be tempting to keep adding to the functionality of the site, but it can result in a longer, drawn-out and expensive process. Especially if new functionality impacts upon the original scope of the build. Its worth asking, ‘is this necessary?’ Sure, everyone wants a phone, but do they need one with a cup holder, a toaster and a small grill?
Once everyone is happy (or as happy as they can be) and the site has been tested, tested again and tested some more just for good measure, its times to release it to the wild. It can be worth waiting a short period after its live to gather feedback from users, to get information on patterns and traffic and tweak the site accordingly. Any major issues can be addressed but be wary of trying to appease all users.
Over the past years we have worked on many websites, both large and small, and our experience has helped us in the design and built of some websites recently:
Before their name change, SMBC Aviation Capital’s website consisted of one page on their parent companies website. When we redesigned their identity, it was felt to be the prefect opportunity to give SMBC Aviation Capital a complete website where they could show their global scale, talk about themselves and their history and easily update news articles on recent purchases and client wins. We provided SMBC Aviation Capital with a fully content managed weskit that was mobile friendly, and could be administered internally. View the site here.
We have been fortunate to work with Cooney Carey for several years across a wide range of projects. Their existing site was starting to show its age, so we redeveloped the site, with a fresher look and a new back-end content management system. The new system incorporates a blog, downloadable articles and documents and allows staff to easily post articles and photography. It also caters to mobile devices with full mobile support. View the site here.
We were approached by Alan Keville to review his existing identity and to redesign it to better reflect his ethos. A major part of the identity review was the redesign of the company website, to make it appeal more to their sophisticated clientele. The result? Online bookings for both salons increased dramatically and the site was shortlisted for an award. View the site here.
So why not contact us to provide a review of your website, we can discuss your needs and help guide you through the possible minefield!