It’s not all about looks you know.

In a world focussed on digital transformation, there is so much more that needs consideration.

Its not all about looks

Written by Mandy McGregor

3 August 2020 | 5 Minute(s) to read

I have the privilege of getting in front of clients to hear their website plans and pitch how we can help them bring their projects to life and in recent weeks it has struck me that there is still little consideration for anything other than what the website looks like and a couple of ‘must-haves’ about content.

My Process.

When I am approached to build a website, the website is the last thing on my mind. 

That may not make a lot of sense. Let me explain. Back in the good old days, a website was built, the content was created, images grabbed from phones, old archives and hey presto, it's live, it's here and it has some information, mostly about what the company does, written in short descriptions, and details on how to contact them. And that worked for quite a while as there was less competition online and a website was something every business was expected to have. So that's why you did it.

Things have changed. It’s a continual fight to get good rankings, it takes good consistent messaging which is regularly posted to get noticed, and most of all business intelligence requires us to know who your audience is, and where your business wants to head.

So the starting point to build anything online is this: Tell me about your business. Not from a sales point of view. Not an elevator pitch. I want to know how it works. What does an average day at the office look like for you? What are your current and future challenges? What software do you use for your processes? What stops you from reaching your business goals?

Here is one scenario:
Imagine you are an e-commerce wholesaler and retailer, and you have come to us with a brief to redevelop a website. Your current website is semi-functional, it works, but it’s clunky and difficult for the end-user, and only direct retail consumers can place orders, everything else is a manual process in the office. You sell multiple types of products but have no stock management system, it's on the list to look at. 

The website upgrade decision came about because you want to grow the business, and you feel the current online presence is holding your business back. So the brief is to develop a better user experience and upgrade the website design.

Wait a second, in one conversation I can already see this needs some bigger picture thinking. 

Here’s another example.   

Your business has been around for a long time and is known for delivering a quality product and basically can’t keep up with demand.  The challenge is that the product needs a lot of customer input as it is a bespoke high-end product. 

The brief is this: The website is dated, the information is old, and we want to upgrade the website look. You have sent through some links of websites that you like the look of (which is actually useful by the way), maybe the new website needs to better show that we can do high end and mid-range options of this product.

In the meeting, we review the look, and chat about some ideas and current trends, and ask a lot of questions. One question I ask is this: what is different in your business now to when you first built this website? Has the company changed in any way?  

Their response: In recent years they have taken part of the business down a slightly different direction and have discovered that they are equally capable of delivering a quality product, but there is less investment to develop it and in turn more cost-effective.

Absolutely it has changed!

This is a game changer.  If I didn't ask that question, they may not have considered that this is something they need to showcase - with a more efficiently manufactured product born from the quality of their highly bespoke product they have the capability to start competing with the big boys.   This changes the online landscape considerably.  What direction are they headed? I want to know more before we jump into building something that looks pretty but is not attracting the markets they need to.  Owners who don’t spend some focussed time considering their bigger picture will not get the best bang for their buck.  The outcome of this meeting was that a full-blown discovery workshop is needed so we can fully understand their business - and more importantly, so can they.

A website project should be the end result of a solid discovery of the business process and direction.

To determine the most reliable, efficient and user-centric business tool that adds value both within the businesses day-to-day operations and meeting your target audiences needs by delivering the best user experience.   

In my experience, there are a lot of challenges businesses face which are not reflected publicly but need to be considered as part of hitting the mark with your online business. As we know the online landscape is constantly changing, and in more recent times, the economic landscape has initiated a ‘change or die’ approach to some businesses to add to the uncertain future. 

If you can take a step back from the ‘I need a better looking website’ idea and focus on ‘how can we leverage this website to our best advantage’ then we are heading down the right path of digital enablement.  Looks become automatically folded into the user-experience design. You may not even know what is possible within the technology we have available to us.

So while the visual aspects of the website are valuable, pre-determining outcomes based on business challenges will save you from heading down a path with less substance, less value and will cost you more in the long run. 

Spending the time workshopping these challenges with us will bring you solutions that will not only provide wow-factor but also solid foundations that truly bring value to your future business goals.