Confessions of a Digital Marketing Agency
Planning on designing a new website for your business? It can be a huge undertaking. You need to plan, strategize, and create timelines – all while trying to get your marketing team organized and on the same page. Sounds easy enough for a digital marketing agency that designs and develops websites for a living. We thought so too – until it came time to actually develop our own website.
Each of our team members experienced their own heartache and hair-pulling experiences with our new website. From web design to development, each will tell a tale of how they overcame the odds to launch our new website. Here’s my story.
Designing a New Website Is Tough
“Everybody’s got a sack of rocks.”
One of my favorite quotes from actress Elaine Stritch because it’s so true. We all have our crosses to bear. Our moments of drama and chaos. And we have no choice but to deal with them – because that’s life, folks. I share this quote with you because during our website build I repeated this quote in my head daily – sometimes several times, daily.
I could probably create a long list of all the frustrations and things that just went wrong with our website and cry to you about it, but that’s why I pay my therapist. What I’d like to share with you is one singular aspect of the website build-out that really caused my ulcer. Why? Because if you’re thinking about designing your new website, you need to know IT’S NOT EASY. This a friendly tip on what you need to keep in mind to help make your website project as seamless as possible.
So what was it? Two words. Time Management.
Why Websites Hate Project Managers
I have the thankless job of setting deadlines and telling people, “no”. And it’s not as glamorous and rewarding as it sounds. How many people like to be held to a due date? And does anyone ever like to hear they can’t have something when they want it? It’s even harder when everyone wants what they want when they want it.
Having a project plan and timeline is essential to building a website. What’s just as important is sticking to that plan and timeline. Obviously, issues arise and adjustments need to be made, but it’s important to understand your team’s workload and what’s realistic when it comes to a launch date. Unfortunately, our project timelines were missed and, as a result, our website launch was months behind schedule.
What caused the breakdown? Well, a few things.
- Add on requests
- Lack of time management
- Unrealistic requests
Project Add Ons
Just when we believed we were done with a part of the website, new requests were made. Add items here, remove items there. Why don’t we rewrite the copy? Sounds like it shouldn’t take that long. But it all takes time – and time adds up.
Anytime you design a website, it’s important to understand that new requests equal added time which can extend your launch date.
What did I learn? Well, you can’t always plan for what you don’t know. However, I’ve learned that having an approval process that is followed is key. Only allow for a certain amount of revisions and adjustments and build them into your website plan. If there are minor items that need to be fixed but aren’t dire to the launch of your website, create a Post Launch Plan.
Lack of Time Management
Everyone works differently. Some people focus on time while others don’t. My job is learning how to make sure everyone understands our time and what’s required in that timeframe – and that just didn’t work. Deadlines were established and weren’t met. Time kept going by and shit just wasn’t done. I suffered many sleepless nights and stressed-out days.
I dreaded getting my favorite questions;
“Why isn’t the website done?”
“What’s taking so long?”
“Where are we at with this?”
I could offer explanation after explanation, but it all sounded like excuse after excuse. The fact was processes weren’t streamlined and time wasn’t considered unless we were past due – then it was very important.
What did I learn? I learned I need to be clear about expectations and time. If we’ve set X amount of hours on something, we have to be mindful not to exceed that time. Also, I need to be clear on our process. Determine with each team member what is the best approach to each of their tasks to create a manageable, streamlined process that will help us provide great work in the time expected.
This one really makes me frazzled because it’s the one I really struggle with when it comes to project management. During our website build our biggest unrealistic request was getting add-on items done in an unrealistic timeframe. Capacity wasn’t considered and I was so frustrated. And what was more frustrating was when the request was made I heard, “Yeah, sure.” Really?!
We aim to please. We really do want to do our best work when people want it. But sometimes it’s just unrealistic. We can get it done, but we need to make sure it fits our capacity. So what did I learn? I learned that I need to help my team understand their capacity and feel comfortable with providing pushback. What I mean by pushback is to be honest and transparent about their time. If they don’t have the capacity, we need to work it into their schedule in a reasonable amount of time and they need to feel comfortable voicing their concerns. Again, we’re not saying “no”. We’re just saying, “just not right now”.
Learning from My Mistakes
I believe we learn from our mistakes and failures – in life and in work. Our website by no means is a failure. We’ve increased our organic traffic, website traffic, and leads in a short period of time. But we did make several mistakes along the way.
My advice to you should you decide to design a new website is to consider your time. Consider your team’s time – whether it’s your own team or one you hire. Understand that great work takes time and it’s a team effort. You must create a realistic plan, leave room for review, have clear processes, and communicate your expectations.