Posted on October 9, 2014
In an age where website design tools are quicker, cheaper and easier to use, why do some websites take so long to create? Why do they cost so much? If you’re thinking of redesigning your website, these are questions you’ve likely asked. As Kuno Creative Web Development Director, they’re two I’m asked frequently by potential clients.
In today’s website redesign market, there are numerous options and platforms to consider. Everywhere you look, websites are getting simpler to build; some platforms allow you to build without coding knowledge. It’s true you can move your website to a CMS with pre-built templates, thereby drastically decreases the time and budget it takes to create. However, there’s a distinct challenge many people don’t recognize when they go this route: If everyone is doing it (namely your competitors), how are you going to gain any traction or stand out on the web if you do the same?
“Good point! We want to stand out. Are you saying we just need to spend more time and money?”
Yes and no. You obviously have to take a different approach than the cookie-cutter website redesign which will take more time and money, but you also don’t want to throw money at something that won’t benefit you in the long run. The key to decipher is whether the price increases are bringing you true value or just increasing your costs because of misguided perceptions or outdated aesthetic preferences.
This article provides a look at what true value is in a website redesign for the 21st century where those premium dollars make sense.
Websites of the Past (And Why They’re No Longer Successful Today)
About a decade ago, Flash was the big thing in web development. The name is appropriate, because what followed was, indeed, a lot of “flash.” Sliders, moving parts, slick transitions and byte size videos made your site into something to behold and respect. As Internet usage and access exploded, so too did mobile usage, which ultimately killed Flash.
While Flash is now becoming more and more a distant memory, the pension to follow those old rules still hangs around. People looking to redesign their websites can still be locked into thinking a nice slider, flashy presentation or custom application are both necessary and valuable when, in reality, they most likely increase your cost without increasing your traffic or customer engagement.
What has happened (and is still happening) with website content mirrors this problem. Websites used to be akin to online brochures, dispensing general information and talking to no one in particular. However, as web speeds and technology improved and web usage (particularly mobile) increased, making content-focused marketing became the best practice. But if you’re not careful, what can happen is you end up spending a lot of money creating content for content’s sake, instead providing valuable information and help to your customers.
Engaging Potential Buyers by Developing and Implementing Buyer Personas
“So how can my website be more useful to the people we want to use it? Do we just focus on better design and content?”
Design and content are integral parts of a successful website, but so are awareness and function. Knowing who you are talking to and what they are interested in is your first step to a successful website. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many business actually need help with this. This is the beginning of finding true value in your website redesign.
A lot of people start a website redesign wanting to dive right in to design mockups (or at least wireframes), but this is a mistake. Understanding your audience first is key. Most businesses have at least some idea of who their target audiences are, but to create a truly successful website, you need more. You need to define your buyer personas. Annie Zelm, Kuno Creative Brand Journalist, explains what a buyer persona is nicely:
“Buyer personas are in-depth profiles of the different types of customers who are considering your product or service. They’re not just demographics or assumptions about your target audience. This degree of understanding about your customers is what really sets your marketing strategy apart from your competitors. It should drive everything you do, from the development of your website to the creation of your content.”
Going through this process before you even design a single pixel may increase the time and cost of your website redesign, but it brings true value to your new website and helps set you apart from your competitors. If you want an edge on your competitors, this is where it starts.
Understanding Buyer Preferences with UX Research and Design
“Once the buyer personas are done, we can start with design, right?”
You can, but you still won’t be getting the greatest value out of your website. You see, not that long ago, designers would create beautiful website mockups, and when their clients would ask how they knew it would be effective for their audiences, they’d say, “Trust us. This is what your website should look like.” That’s not going to cut it anymore.
You should want to see the data behind why you’re putting a button on the left instead of on the right and why the color red will likely convert better than green. This need is where UX design comes in. Having someone analyze, A/B Test, focus group and prototype your website can increase your costs over a standard website, but these are valuable premiums. This is another opportunity where you can separate yourself from other websites.
“Are we ready to actually design our new website now?!?”
Glad you asked! Armed with your buyer persona reports and UX insight, strategists, designers and developers can create a the design and function of your new website. Maybe when you first explored the idea of redesigning your website, you were dead set on having a custom calendar that would help keep your users up-to-date on product releases. But then you learned a vast majority of your users are on mobile, and the type of calendar you want to build simply would not work well (or look good) on mobile.
The designers at Kuno will tell you that your website should instead decrease the number of clicks visitors are making on your site and supplementing that with long pages featuring parallax scrolling that tell your story. Building custom templates for these will increase cost and time, especially if you want to do it for multiple pages, but it will create a better, more engaging experience for your potential buyers. A good designer and developer, armed with personas, data, and content, can accurately and effectively craft a scrolling page that means something to your users and guides them through the buyer journey.
Taking the time to understand your potential buyers and their preferences saved you from spending premium dollars on a calendar they would not use and allowed you to instead create a website they would visit again and again. This is a primary example of how taking the extra time to understand your buyers and their preferences can impact your long-term investment in a website redesign.
The Bottom Line on Why Your Website Redesign May Take Longer and Cost More
Anyone can make a website these days. In fact, there’s likely someone in your company who can do it. But to create a website that will convert and nurture more qualified leads, you need to understand your buyers and their preferences. Sure, this will take more time, and it will likely take more money, but in the end, a website that is truly unique from the competition and that speaks to buyers at every stage of the buyer journey will be more successful for your business. In the 21st Century where everyone already has a website, keywords, and a flashy slider, that is a premium worth paying for.