I recently had some new lights put in my house. I know nothing about electrical work so of course I hired someone to do it. Sometimes I wished I knew more about things like this because when the electrician came over — he might as well have been speaking a foreign language when he was telling me what he was going to do. But really, I don’t need to know this stuff and I accept that. Why? Because we can’t all be good at everything. We all have our strengths and know what we know.
So instead of putting effort into becoming an electrician, I instead spent my time researching electricians, reading reviews, getting referrals, checking references and looking at previous work. I’m looking to hire someone I trust, not someone to take my advice and do what I say — because, again, when it comes to wiring my home, I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Interestingly, I find this same kind of analogy applies to our line of work here at Staffing Robot. Often times we get clients that have no idea what we’re talking about. They’re not overly familiar with technology and know very little about design. That’s fine. We don’t expect them to be experts in this area. However, we do expect that they’ve hired us because they trust us and are relying on our expertise and ability to educate them on the process, solve their problems and produce something awesome.
For the most part, this works out just fine. But, every now and then we get a case of the novice becoming the expert. Meaning, sometimes we get a client that starts telling us how to design or build things — change this color, add this menu, push this pixel. It’s natural for people to want to participate and give their opinion on things like a website. However, typically it ends up harming the process, frustrating everyone and potentially even producing a bad outcome.
For our team, there are certain things we know to be bad ideas 100% of the time. They’re obvious to us because this is the work we do every day. This realization has helped us to know it’s our responsibility to educate our clients up front about some very specific things in terms of what makes a great website. So, instead of avoiding these issues, we now try to highlight them up front.
In an effort to highlight all these tips, I thought it might be good to share our thoughts on how your staffing or recruiting company can get the most out of your efforts when it’s time to redesign your website.
1/ Don’t promote an idea you can’t carry
Some companies come to us saying things like ‘we want you to make us look cool!’ But unfortunately, the company just isn’t ‘cool.’ That’s OK! It’s better to embrace what your company is and what it’s about as opposed to trying to be something you’re not.
If you can’t continually support or promote an idea because it’s not you — don’t do it!
2/ Your old, dated logo won’t work on a newly designed site
This might be the biggest point of contention with some clients. Your logo is the basis for everything that will be designed on the website. So if your logo is a specific color, font, and has a tagline that has to be incorporated — then that’s the basis for the new site design. All fonts, colors, text and visual assets we use on your new website will have to pair with your logo. Otherwise, it just won’t work out. It would look like putting a KIA emblem on a Mercedes. It doesn’t work.
We often get clients that have terrible logos. They show us examples of amazing site layouts they want and it’s always hard when we have to break the news to them that their logo alone will keep us from being able to pull off a design they might like. Don’t get me wrong — there are lots of ways to minimize a bad logo or ‘tweak’ it slightly to make some improvements. But only so much.
Your outdated, poorly designed logo will be a limiting factor in a new website design. Consider rebranding.
3/ You don’t need social icons everywhere
Social media is important. It should be featured somewhere on your website. However, social media is assumed these days. Meaning, your customers assume you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and probably a few more. If they want to engage with you there they know they can find you. It’s OK to (and we even recommend) integrating your social media properties into your website. However, keep two things in mind:
You don’t need social icons in the header, footer, contact page, blog, and any other available white space you can cram them in. Just put them somewhere relevant and call it a day.
Don’t make your website look like a NASCAR. At least take the time to match the social icons to your site. Otherwise all you’re doing is overly advertising for these social platforms and making your site look tacky.
Don’t go overboard with social media icons.
4/ White space has a purpose and it’s not to be filled
What’s white space? White space is essentially open space. Your content needs room to breathe. Your users need visual space between images, CTAs and written content so they don’t get overwhelmed, and so they can easily absorb content and make decisions. Often times clients feel this space needs to be filled with random items. It doesn’t.
White space has a job. Let it perform that job.
5/ Not everything needs to ‘pop’
If you can avoid the word ‘pop’ completely your web design company will appreciate it. A big mistake we see people making is the need to have everything be colorful or visual, and stand out. Related to many items above, this isn’t the case. If everything stands out, then nothing stands out. A website page needs a visual hierarchy and the content needs room to breathe. If you do this, your pages will convert users better.
A good design knows when to emphasize and de-emphasize elements.
6/ Your logo does not need to be bigger
Your logo is meant for people to quickly recognize they’re in the right place. Your logo will not give visitors the ability to contact you, apply for jobs, or any magical super powers. Therefore, keep your logo in an easy to recognize area, but realize it doesn’t need to be dominant. This goes for other icons, badge elements, awards or partnership organization logos.
If the people designing your website are good, then the size they recommend is good.
7/ Don’t rip off another website
Be original, or hire people that can make you seem original. Riffing off an idea or borrowing certain concepts for inspiration is fine — but a blatant ripoff isn’t good for you.
Don’t copy. Super lame.
8/ Don’t let your own personal style overly influence your decisions
This goes back to the core of the issue. If you keep up on current design and tech trends, if you understand your market and competition thoroughly, and you know how to design for the web — then by all means — give some input. If not, your own personal style or preferences can get in the way of your site looking fresh, modern, smart and producing good results. Just because you don’t like a particular look, style or message doesn’t mean it won’t resonate with your audience and produce great results.
Hire people who can help you make things fresh, modern and smart.
9/ You need to consider mobile first
A HUGE design mistake people make is only commenting on things in a desktop view. When we mock up designs for clients we show them both desktop and mobile views. However, when they give feedback, they almost exclusively only comment on the desktop view, skipping the site on their mobile device all together. And, in so doing, they typically request changes that would negatively effect the mobile experience or are in fact impossible to incorporate.
If you’re working with a pro web design team then they should be designing for mobile phones first. If they are, then trust their design. They’ve thought through it much more than you have and considered everything from devices to browsers in their decisions. Often times, as designers, we won’t do something simply because we know it won’t work in specific browsers or devices.
Design for mobile first if you want the best all around user experience.
10/ Don’t Devalue Content
Content is critical to making your new website a great new website. Content is everything from the written copy, to photos/videos, to all visual elements. Content can make or break your site and is the difference between a good website and a great website.
Curating good content takes time and requires skill. It’s not simply about editing and rewriting you current copy, or reusing old visual assets. In addition, unless the person curating your content has researched your competition, your market, your audience, fully understands how to position your business, is a professional writer, and knows how to properly prioritize content, s/he really should avoid creating content.
Also, keep the content about how amazing your company is to a minimum. No one cares. Sorry.
Try this – count the number of pages on your site and total them in groups of how they’re related. How many pages are for your clients, your candidates and how many are about you? If you have more pages about your company than you do for your clients/candidates…well, think about that.
No amount of good design can make up for bad content.
11/ You don’t need more than 20 pages
Most websites these days can get the job done in 10-20 pages. Even 20 pages is pushing it. At 20 pages, you’d need some really interesting content or features to get any value out of these pages. Even 20 pages is most often just a cost. A cost in terms of initial investment and ongoing maintenance and produces very little (if any) results. Design for specific action and cull your content down to being as minimal as possible. If you want a lot of pages of content make a blog. That’s what it’s for.
And no, having a ton of pages doesn’t improve your SEO. Distributing good content and getting people to your site, and converting them is good for SEO.
A big site requires more time and maintenance and typically doesn’t produce any ROI.
12/ Stock photos don’t give your site a ‘personal’ feel
We know — as a staffing company you’re in the people business. So, naturally, you should have pictures of people on your site so it feels more personal. We fully agree with this — unless it means the overuse of cheap stock photos that everyone else in your industry is using. Nothing downgrades the look of a site faster than the use of bad stock photos (except for maybe bad content). Consider the following alternatives:
Use solid colors and no photos (it will be OK!)
Take original photos
Use abstract shots of locations, things or people
Bad stock photos don’t feel any more personal than mannequins at a department store.
13/ You don’t need to explain things with words
Images are better than text. People don’t read. Adding explainer text above things you want users to do is not only unnecessary, it’s a good way to get people to actually miss the thing you want them to do. Limit your written copy whenever you can, and make sure the content is something you’d want to read yourself. People come to your site to do something and usually, to do it quickly. Words slow them down.
Show, don’t tell.
14/ Yes, you do need a blog and to use it
This idea that your company doesn’t blog needs to end. But let’s be clear about blogs. If you’ve had a blog for a long time and it’s producing results then keep it up. If you’re just starting a blog today you have an uphill battle trying to get new followers — especially if you’re going to be writing long posts like this. These days people want simple, easy to digest content. In addition, unless you have dedicated writers — you’re not going to blog as much as you should to get results. Promise.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t blog or that you don’t need one. It means you need to rethink the idea of a blog. Your blog should be easy to post on and designed to enable you to create and distribute simple content quickly and easily. But even if that keeps you from blogging then consider outsourcing this service.
Without a blog you don’t have an effective way to distribute content.
PROCESS & FEEDBACK
15/ Spend more than five minutes looking at something before you give feedback
We’ve had very few clients ask to take time with the designs, collect their thoughts/feedback and get back to us. We always insist on this because it produces a better result, but in almost ever single case, clients are at the ready with immediate feedback. Again, if the design team you’re working with is any good then they’ve had a team of professionals working on your designs for multiple days/weeks. They’ve put a lot of time, thought and work into the designs. So, if you start firing off feedback after only viewing things for a few minutes then really, you’re not giving any respect to the team you’re working with or giving yourself enough time to really provide adequate feedback.
Take some time to think on the designs before giving feedback.
16/ Provide constructive feedback
When you are ready to give feedback, give specific and constructive feedback or ask questions. For example saying things like ‘Something’s missing. I don’t know what, but something is missing’ or ‘I don’t really know what I like but I’ll know it when I see it’ — super NOT helpful. Saying things like this forces your design team into a guessing game. If they’re forced to guess then they’re just guessing at your personal preferences and they’ll be guessing until they ‘get it right.’ This will lead to nothing but frustration on both sides.
Constructive feedback examples would be saying things like:
“I don’t like this green — but here’s an example of the green we’re going for. Can you make this work?” or “It seems like this element is too small compared to everything else — what was the thinking here and does it need to be changed?”
17/ Don’t work off a timeline, work off results
Everyone always wants to know how long building a website will take. Of course you want some rough idea of what to expect. However, a timeline for a website depends on some many things like — who’s doing what, how many features, how many integrations, third parties, and of course your own ability to provide feedback, approval and your own deliverables. So, focusing on a timeline is not the best way to manage a new website project. It’s a good way to create unnecessary busy work.
What we recommend is an overall timeline estimate, with the only focus being on the next deliverable. By focusing on the next deliverable everyone can look at what’s involved in the next phase of the project, agree to the timeline and execute. When done, you can move to the next phase. As long as everyone is communicating well and happy with the progress and results, there shouldn’t be any issues. This also keeps the focus of the project on the quality of deliverables, not the speed of them. When you focus on speed, it’s rare you’ll have the same quality outcome.
The worst thing to do is give your design team a deadline to work backward from, particularly if that timeline is based on some arbitrary date or because you waited too long to get this project started. This is a scenario for rushing a product to build it quickly, without a focus on quality.
Prioritize quality above quickness.
18/ Don’t tell a web design team to ‘work their magic’
First of all, magic isn’t real. Second, web design teams put a lot of thought, inspiration and years of experience into their designs. They don’t go off into the desert, take peyote or conjure some spell to come up with something awesome for you. Their work is the result of calculated, educated and informed direction. If you’d like to give direction — then be specific and exact. Saying ‘work your magic’ is not helpful.
Magician’s work magic. Designers make designs.
19/ Use a Content Management System (CMS) (The right CMS)
If your company doesn’t have the ability to update your CMS, you’re in trouble. You want your website built in a way that lets you quickly and easily update content without having to rely on your design company. This means you should also be given full admin access to your CMS, not just restricted access your design company thinks is appropriate.
You also don’t need to pay for a CMS or use something crazy like .Net Nuke. Your website should not be built in .Net. That’s unnecessary and crazy. We recommend WordPress. WordPress is the most popular and widely used CMS in the world.
20/ Stop using your built in ATS job board solution
Seriously, just stop. If your ATS tells you they have a job board solution that involves a ‘scrap of code to throw on your site’, that redirects you to another site or web page, or that they in fact make websites, you’re going down the wrong path. These solutions aren’t good for you — they’re good for your ATS company. These solutions hurt your SEO, they can’t be made mobile, require too much effort for candidates to apply, redirect traffic from your site — and they look terrible.
Creating a custom job solution that makes use of these systems, improves your SEO and increases conversions is the way to go.
That’s a long list I know — but all these points are important if you want you next website redesign to be a success! Contact us if it’s time to update your staffing company’s website.