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Reasons Why Your Website Refresh Can Fail

Website styles follow distinct trends in each industry. If it’s been too long since you have refreshed yours, you’re in good company. Most companies should refresh their style about every 2-3 years, but tend to let it go longer. If you are exploring options, be sure to prepare yourself for all the things your web developer will need.

Every business wants their website refresh to go well and a big part of getting to that point involves understanding that it is a collaborative process. Both website developers and clients have certain responsibilities they must meet to help everything go as smoothly as possible.

Messaging That Converts

Website style is only one part of your refresh. Arguably the most important role that a client has to play in terms of a website refresh ultimately comes down to clarifying both their market positioning and brand voice. Years ago (and unfortunately today in some industries) messaging was solely product and brand-centric. “Here is everything we want you to know about our products,” which in comparison with today’s customer-centric messaging – “Here is everything we do to solve your problems” – is a big messaging flip.

Your web developer isn’t going to be writing your copy. You need to come with a clear understanding of not only who you are targeting, but how that message needs to be delivered. Things like language and word choice matter a great deal in terms of creating the right first impression with a potential customer, so it’s incredibly helpful to clarify as much of this as possible before the refresh process begins. At that point, you will need to gather as many current documents as possible and identify where in these documents essential insight into their operations is located.

Writers (possibly a few) will be needed to edit this supporting information so that it flows properly, that it fits the selected layout, and makes sense. This will require both revisions and ongoing feedback from you. It’s very rare for this to be a one-and-done thing and a certain amount of time and patience is going to be required. Even a writer with deeply rooted experience in a particular industry will still be learning as they go to a certain extent. If you want great copy, you need to learn how to give great feedback as soon as possible.

Images Say a Lot About Your Brand

While many website developers will be happy to source certain types of images and video content, clients should be aware that it’s their responsibility to provide any and all branded images, charts and other important brand style information. This is especially true in terms of collateral like team photos and types of images you want. For example, if you simply ask for an image of a duck, you could end up with any one of these.

duck flying through air over water
duck drawing
rubber duck

Communicate the Details

If you are working directly with web developers you have to be crystal clear on every detail or they will take the lead and you may end up with a website that looks cool, but isn’t on brand or functional for your targets. Spacing, alignments, movement, messaging, images, links, etc. All of these are part of the user experience – UX. These need to be communicated clearly. The best way to do this is to provide examples, not just of other websites, but of snippets and screenshots of elements from the website you like with an explanation why. Think of the ink-blot tests. Everyone sees something different. Tell your web developers “what” about the section you like – imagery, colors, action, font, alignment. All are important details.

Who Is Coordinating

During any website refresh, someone – typically a project manager or consultant – will need to manage all deadlines and deliverables to keep everything running smoothly. A website refresh is a very hard job to coordinate even in the best of situations, so respecting deadlines will go a long way towards avoiding delays. It’s hard – you will get pulled away by your daily business tasks. But if you are late with an important deadline, it will absolutely push other parts of the project.

Setting Reasonable Expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and your website refresh won’t be completed in a day, either. Therefore, you need to temper your enthusiasm to get it done NOW. Like a home remodel, whatever timeline you’re quoted – double it. That’s not the delays on the web developer’s end. It will be on your end – trust me. If you take three days to send comments on a revision, that’s totally fine – just don’t expect the revision the next day. Try to give the process the amount of time it needs to deliver optimal results. Understanding that everyone working on your website is an artist with ebbs and flows of creativity. Like a “bad hair day” writers, designers have “low creativity days” and need to work with through that deficiency sometimes.

Collaboration Delivers a Better Website

Web developers want to collaborate with you because together, you can arrive at a finished product that is far greater than either one of you could achieve on your own.  Keep in mind there are others who may have ideas, but measuring their understanding of your end goal vs. their personal creative goal is important. A common disconnect is who wins the copy battle – writers or designers. Writers want to write as much as they need to get the message across clearly. The designer has a design flow that may limit how many lines of copy a section should have. Someone, usually a project manager, needs to settle this space battle so you have a good balance of both creative artist’s goals.

If you are thinking about a website refresh and don’t have the all the patience above, give us a call. We have tremendous experiences and an amazing team that can help you. Schedule a call to discuss your site goals.