“I really love that.”
“I didn’t even know you could do that with a website!”
These are common statements I hear from potential clients when we’re talking about working together. But every once in awhile, after we start working with some of these companies — at some point during the project they take over. They disregard our process and start directing the project.
Next thing we know, we’re being asked to cut corners, speed up the timeline, do things out of order — and sometimes, we even get design mockups from clients. My favorite are Word document mock ups.
Often times this happens because someone’s opinion on the project takes over. Their opinion is that this ____ isn’t good and this ____ would be better. But the problem is this opinion isn’t based in expertise or data, it’s just a subjective opinion.
Further, it’s typically based on the latest website they saw that they liked, which might not even be mobile or relevant to their industry, or worse, something their competitors are doing. In these situations, I’ve yet to have the conversation with a client based on data or have a discussion with someone that’s an actual web designer. When this happens, the project often breaks down. We follow the client’s lead until they get stuck and then they throw it back to us to solve the problem. But it’s too late at this point because we’ve let go of our process and started following theirs.
We end up delivering in the end, but it’s not a site or a project we put in our portfolio. Or worse, sadly, the client that came to us for some “Wow” left with some “just OK.”
I remember the first time I went to build a website. I thought it was going to be easy. How hard could it be? It’s just some pictures, fonts and buttons. It was a train wreck. But, I got better. In the beginning, I used templates and guides and played things pretty safe. Once I got the hang of it, building a website this way was actually relatively easy.
But all of the early websites I built were missing something. They didn’t solve any problems for either the company or the user. At the end of the day, it was just all about how it looked and how I felt about that look. Content? Who cares — it’s just words no one will read. SEO? Easy — just guess at some keywords and slap them on. Conversions? What are those?
Things are different now. Today, good websites have to do a lot of things:
- Work in all browsers and on all devices
- Perform and run fast
- Protect against intrusions and hacks
- Be visually appealing and stand out to get attention
- Provide a good user experience
- Contain content people will engage with or share
- Be designed for action and conversions
When you consider all these things, creating a successful website is not…
1/ easy or 2/ something that should be subject to personal opinion.
This last statement is what I really want to talk about. If you’re a staffing company, I know you have all sorts of talented people working for you. I’m confident that some of these people are technical, great at marketing and some of them are probably designers. However, unless these people work together every day producing successful websites, then in many cases, letting them direct a website project simply isn’t appropriate.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t to say people from your company shouldn’t participate, give input or provide feedback. All I’m saying is that in most cases, if these people aren’t tasked with delivering successful websites on a consistent basis, then much of their opinion tends to simply be personal and subjective, and not based in current trends, best practices or data.
Staffing Robot is a full service creative, marketing and development agency. This isn’t just a buzz statement and we weren’t always this type of company. This statement means something, and it’s the kind of company we’ve grown into.
It means we have a team of professionals whose careers are based on being the best they can be at marketing, design, writing, development and project management. We invest every year for our staff to go to some of the best conferences in the county for design, development, writing, marketing and of course — staffing. This keeps them all sharp. They understand design trends, best practices for coding, new marketing strategies, staffing industry changes, etc. It’s their job to do this and keep up on these things.
When we work with people who have some experience doing any of this kind of work — but not as a full-time profession, we find that more often than not their knowledge is simply outdated and they’re not thinking about the overall goal. Most often, they’re focused on singular aspects of the project — like what photo is going on the home page.
When we take on a project, we approach it holistically. Our job is to identify things that matter with each company. For example:
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What are your business goals?
- Who is your competition?
- Who is your audience?
- What is your brand and your company culture all about?
- How can we increase your conversions?
Our goal is to make you stand out, to differentiate you and position you in a way that will be unforgettable to everyone that engages with you. Which is why talking about how your website looks up front is the last thing you should worry about. Here’s how we see it.
Your brand influences everything in your website project from content to design. So, if your brand is outdated or just not very good — you’re not going to get a website or content that is good. If you put a Ford symbol on a Mercedes it’s going to look odd. So if you’re working with a Ford symbol, you’re only going to get a Ford.
SEO informs your content. Doing your SEO last? Wrong. Your SEO research and data should inform all you do when it comes to content.
Nothing should be designed before you’re set on the content, concept and overall messaging. If you’re having conversations about how the site will look before you know these things — you’re doing it wrong.
How is your job board going to work? What are the details of the ATS and what are your conversion goals. All of these things should also be considered prior to talking about design.
And that’s really just the surface.
Hopefully you can see — it’s a big process with lots to consider. At Staffing Robot, we go with the measure twice, cut once theory. We find if we do all the prep work up front, building the website and delivering a great, final product is easy. If we don’t do this though, things don’t work out.
So what’s it all mean? All I ask is that you consider this — if you hire a company to build you a website then do so because you like their work, you know their reputation and because you trust them. From there, give them your goals and business challenges and let them drive. Follow their process. Give them constructive, helpful feedback and sit back and wait for the final “Wow.” Don’t try to direct the process when really, truly, it’s not something you or your team has expertise in.
Focus on what you do. Let the web companies focus on what they do.