Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Design Clients

Three things I thought I knew about the design process . . . but didn’t really.

Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Design Clients

I’ve always loved looking at websites. Especially those that look good, make it easy to do what I’ve come to the site to do, while occasionally surprising me with some type of clever interaction.

My interest in good web design was a large part of my decision to pursue a career in online communications with some of Australia’s biggest and smallest companies across the Retail, Property and the Financial Services sectors.

Until recently my role had been strictly client side, working with web design agencies (including Wiliam in 2008) to create websites that looked good, were easy to manage and achieved defined commercial objectives. So when I started with Wiliam, I thought I had a fair idea of what was involved in a website project.

Having now spent a few weeks viewing the process from an agency perspective, there’s a few things I wish I’d known when I was working on the client side.


1. Cutting corners on the initial discovery phase can be costly

Every time that I’d started a website project with the help of an agency, I’d always had a good idea of what I wanted my site to do and look like. I thought I was saving project time and cost by providing a definitive blueprint of the website that I wanted.

While there’s no doubt that a good brief is helpful in getting project discussions going, I’d underestimated the value to be found in a well run project discovery phase.

While a good agency will interpret your brief and give you the website you asked for, a great agency will use the initial planning phase to understand what drives your business, challenge your assumptions and bring ideas to the table that you hadn’t thought of.

Sure . . . you can shortcut the initial workshop phase of a project to save time and money but you in doing so you’re probably overlooking opportunities that you hadn’t thought about while you were busy planning out your perfect website.


2. Building a website is no walk in the park

As a client, I hadn’t realised how complicated it was to turn a concept into the finished product.

The road to project success is rarely a smooth one. Prioritising and solving problems is a necessary part of the project life cycle and something that should be seen as a healthy part of the development process.

As a client, you’ll often view these issues as roadblocks to completing your project. While each issue is unique, most are resolved so in a way that improves the your final project outcome.

Identifying and working through those issues before you they have a chance to rear their heads in a live environment is a necessary part of the process.


3. A website's work is never done

Everything’s been signed off, the website’s successfully launched and the champagne glasses are clinking! Now all that’s left to do is to sit back and watch the leads roll in.


The end of a website launch is really the start of a much wider project. Letting your website decay post launch is like flushing money down the drain.

You’ll need adequately resource your project as it moves into the next phase of it life. Allow for ongoing development as you figure out how your customers are actually using your site, seek continuous improvement in performance and conversion, test to find what what works, what doesn’t and then keep evolving your website strategy.

Technology and how customers interact with your website is a constant state of flux. Don’t let your site get far behind or you’ll be missing new opportunities, new areas of focus and the evolution of website ‘nice to haves’ into ‘must haves’.

Think of your new website as a fine tuned machine that’ll require a certain level of maintenance to keep it running as well as possible. What may seem like a drain on your resources is ultimately money and time well spent protecting the investment you’ve made in your website up to this point.