For many organizations, redesigning a website means hiring a design agency. Why an agency? Because most full-service agencies offer it all. They can create a design, perform some technical wizardry, publish some content, and BAM! You’ve got a website.
In other words, you don’t have to do anything. The agency does it for you. Easy peasy.
So you gather a list of contenders, listen to their pitches, and peruse their portfolios. Then you pick one. Fingers crossed, you sign on the dotted line.
Afterward, you hope – no, pray – they do great work. And that they do it quickly.
That’s the thing about agencies. They’re usually… slow.
Who can blame them? When you work with an agency, you’re actually hiring a big team of designers, developers, and project managers. They’ve got to coordinate with each other. They also need to set aside time to sketch out your new logo, share the design options with you, and corral the group for screen-share phone meetings with you.
Oh, about those meetings…
You’ll probably have several of them over the course of your website build. You take time out of your schedule, dial into a conference line, and look at wireframes and mockups. Project managers are terrified of not pleasing you, so they’ll pick your brain for feedback until your cerebellum starts to ache.
Did we mention they’ll pass you around like a hot potato?
After the salesperson closes you, she’ll pass you to the project manager. Some time goes by. The project manager has you talk with the designer. Then the developers. Then everyone at the same time. Oh, and look! Here are some different people! Maybe they brought in a contractor. Maybe someone quit halfway through.
Total time spent doing all this? 4 to 8 months. Or longer.
Anyone with an insurance policy has encountered “loss of use” coverage – the indemnity against your ability to use something (a home or car, usually) and the associated costs of not being able to use it.
For an outdated website, your loss of use period begins the moment your website ceases to provide optimal value. A long design process prolongs that period. It represents more time spent not generating new business from your website.
And to our knowledge, nobody sells loss of use coverage for outdated websites.
After your new website goes live, most agencies put you on a service plan. When they’re well executed, these plans provide benefits like:
Anyway, response time for this stuff matters. And you might not know how well your agency handles support until your website is done and you have no other choice.
For instance, how would you feel if your site got hacked and the support team didn’t have a recent backup to restore?
Or what if you urgently need to add a service page in anticipation of seasonal demand but the support team doesn’t do it in time?
Your first response might be, “I’d hire somebody else.” But if your web design agency uses proprietary software and site architecture, you might have to choice but to stick with them (and their crappy support) until it’s time to redesign your website again.
And enter the fray with your eyes wide open! Many organizations begin a relationship with a design agency without understanding the required time commitment. It rarely matters what the agency’s “projected timeframe” for project completion is. Plan on it taking longer.
What’s more, few organizations include “support request response time” in their list of things to ask about when they interview agencies. During the selection phase, technical support seems like a far out, far off, far away thing. It shouldn’t be.
With those concerns in mind, be sure to select a web design partner – be it an agency, a freelancer, or whoever – who provides satisfactory responses to these questions:
It’s up to you whether a designer’s responses to these questions are satisfactory. What matters is that you ask the questions – and that you ultimately reap the benefits of a great-looking, effective business website that’s enthusiastically and competently supported by your design partner.
As for speed, let’s just say we’re big fans of one week design and development.