If you feel a sense of dread at the thought of redesigning your website, we get it. The prospect of making huge changes is overwhelming at best, no matter how prepared you think you might be. Let's look at the latest trend in website development—hopefully we can show you that it doesn't have to be terrifying to make (possibly long-overdue) changes to your organization's website.
The Old-Fashioned Static Website Project
We're all familiar with the quickly falling out of fashion website redesign model. Typically, you redesign your website every two to three years, or longer if it's possible. Because of the length of time between updates, there's usually a lot to change—not only has your company grown and evolved, but there have been technological updates that must be considered as well.
Here's a rundown of the typical model for website updates:
This model is high on up-front costs. You know the project is a big one, so you've got to be sure that your budget is prepared to take the hit. This means that you might go longer than you like between updates, simply because you can't afford to do it any sooner. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more updates you need to make. Which only makes it more expensive. It's a vicious cycle, and it's time that you break it.
Web trends change fast. You want to keep up with them, but it's difficult to do so when you're only updating your site every few years. Worse, when you DO adopt the latest trend, it looks dated FAST. This means anyone can tell when you last redesigned your site at a glance.
It's a lot of work to update a website. It's time consuming to redesign your website—particularly if it's been awhile since your last update. You want it to look as good as possible, so you patiently await the launch date. At last, the date arrives, your site is launched, and then it's great for a little while. But then you start to notice that it's looking a little dated, or it doesn't feature a new apsect of your business. If you have a good CMS, you can update your own content and keep current, but the main design, CTAs, and other functions of your website will need custom development for any major facelifts. With the traditional model, that's an extra project fee.
This model is neither agile nor flexible. Once you've decided on the design, that's what's happening—there's not a lot of space for change after the plans are in motion. Or, if you do choose to change lanes midway through the project, you'd better get ready to cough up more cash. Like, a lot more.
It's hard to predict the scope or the deadline of a major website project. Sometimes there's no way of knowing how complex a project will be until you're smack in the middle of it—and then, your four months deadline could become six months. Or the original amount quoted could end up significantly higher, because there's actually more work to be done than anticipated.
The Long-term Engagement Model
Many agencies are moving toward long-term engagements for clients who want to stay current, adapt to the market and take a data-driven approach to their website. Here are the highlights of this approach:
You set a monthly budget for the project. Rather than laying out a huge chunk of money up front for the redesign, you instead settle upon a strict monthly budget, which you can easily incorporate into your monthly overhead. You won't need to hold off on the project—you can get started right away, knowing that work will be ongoing, and you won't get blindsided by a large bill.
There will be ongoing support from your agency. As time goes on, and issues inevitably arise, your agency will be there to offer you assistance. You won't be left to figure it out on your own, or have to pay extra to get the help you need.
Your site will be launched quickly. You won't have to wait months and months if you take a phased approach to your website update. Instead, long-term engagements push to launch priority pages quickly, and make additions and adjustments as time goes on.
The site will be data driven. Instead of relying solely upon the initial plan and hoping that it will perform well, you will instead be able to examine the site's initial peformance, and use that data to make any necessary tweaks to improve the performance in the long run. Amazing!
You can utilize agile methodology. We've discussed our love of agile methodology before, and updating your site in this manner will allow you to practice agile methodology effectively. Rather than trying to anticipate your needs for the next couple of years, you can address your current, more immediate needs, and then adapt as needed. If you launch a new product, no big deal! You can simply update your site to reflect that.
Hopefully this new approach to website projects will loosen the knot that appears in your stomach whenever you think about updating your site. It's less expensive, it's more efficient, and it works with you rather than forcing you to work within a timeline that's far too advanced to predict accurately. Are you interested in learning more? We'd love to help!