You've identified some good reasons to redesign your business website and you've put a solid plan in place. Great stuff.
Now comes the fun part where your plans, ideas, branding, and digital dreams come to life. But what’s the best way to start the physical design and development work? After all, you need a huge team with lots of graphic designers and developers right? Well, not necessarily.
We're going to explore the different options available to you when designing a business website, be it going it on your own, or employing the help of a creative digital agency.
Designing a business website - a world or possibilities or a minefield?
Deciding on who to turn to when you want to have your new website designed and developed can seem daunting. After all, there are countless agencies, freelancers, and individuals out there crying out to take your ideas and produce something wonderful at the other end. How do you choose the right option for you?
Knowing who to entrust your website with can be a confusing minefield of conflicting information.
In reality, your chosen route depends on a lot of factors:
- Your in-house capabilities
- The size of the project
- The complexities involved
- Your timescales
- Your budget
No matter who you decide to work with to produce your new website, they will broadly fall into one of three
categories: A full-blown digital agency; a freelancer or micro team; or a do-it-yourself solution, developing the site in-house, or perhaps using a service such as Wix.com.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but it’s more common to want to work with a third party.
Get it right be asking the right questions
How can you be sure that you will get the best website for your budget and ultimately that the company you choose to deliver your website will create something that inspires trust in your customers?
Well, as it happens there are a few great questions that you can ask web designers, or anyone you choose to work with, and anyone worth their salt will be happy to answer about your project.
Here are a few questions to ask them before you sign on the dotted line:
- What’s included in the cost of my website?
- Do you have experience with similar clients in my business field?
- How will the success of the website be measured?
- What happens once the website is launched?
- Can I add to the site in the future?
- Who will I deal with during and after the project?
- Who produces the content for my website?
Choosing the right website design and development partner
Let’s take a look at the different options available to you when starting a website redesign.
Option 1 - Digital agency
A web design studio or digital marketing agency will likely have a roster of larger clients, case studies, and success stories. They’re well suited to larger projects or more complex development needs. Because of their bank of resources they can manage multiple projects at once and can usually deliver projects in a shorter time frame.
Working with an agency can also help you bring a number of other marketing requirements, such as design for print, social media marketing (SMM), or search engine marketing (SEM), all under one roof.
You should expect to have a larger budget available to get the best from an agency partnership, but in return you will have access to a larger bank of resources (i.e. their internal teams) and experience to achieve your goals.
Why choose an agency?
- You have a large scale project
- You have complex or specialist requirements that will take a smaller, or less experienced team longer to achieve
- You have shorter timeframes
Option 2 - Freelancer
By working with a freelance designer or developer, or a micro-agency (1-3 people), you can often get access to the same levels of skill as a bigger agency (indeed a lot of freelancers have simply detached from an agency to pursue their own business), but at a lower cost.
Good freelancers know what they’re about, what they can achieve in what timescales, and are a great option if you have a smaller budget, less complex needs, or more complex requirements that have more flexible timescales.
They can usually turn projects around quickly as they only work on a couple of projects at a time.
What you may lose in terms of sheer volume of resources from an agency, you gain in a closer personal working relationship. Freelance designers and developers can get more involved and embedded with your company enabling them to better understand your goals and requirements.
Why choose a freelancer?
- You have a smaller budget
- You have a less complex project or medium to longer timescales to work to
- You prefer a more focussed personal relationship
- You can deal direct with the person doing the work
Option 3 - Going it alone
Many companies, such as software development houses. have the internal resources to design and develop a new website. If you have available skills in-house then it might be worth having an internal discussion to decide if delivering the project yourself if possible.
Bear in mind that in-house delivery is not without it’s problems: you might find that you’re too close to the project to be objective about progress and decisions; also, delivering the project will take resources away from usual business activities.
Whilst the DIY solution is a great option because it gives you 100% control and can be achieved on virtually zero budget, you may struggle to get the result you want if your design and creative skills aren’t up to scratch. That, and the timescales can spiral out of control as you work around your regular day to day business.
Why go it alone?
- You have the skills and time available to produce the end result
- You have a limited or no budget available
- You need a really simple end result, such as a single holding page for business card extension for informational purposes only
Choose what's right for your business and manage the project well
Depending on your choice of website provider you may have a dedicated project manager who will work with you throughout the project, or you might liaise directly in the case of a freelancer.
However the project progresses, it’s important to keep track of progress and measure it against your starting plan and agreed upon requirements.
Lots of factors cause website redesign projects to run off course, from technological constraints to your own decisions changing as the project progresses.
The way to keep things on track and help create success in any creative project is to ensure that you keep in close and regular contact with your chosen partner to make sure you know what challenges they’re facing and they’re aware of any changes from your side.