Last year, we recognized our company was in woeful need of a New Website Design.
Our first clue?
We no longer wanted to The Cobbler’s New Shoes: What We Learned on the Way to a New Website image Red Shoes Visual look at our own website design.
The second clue?
No one else ever went there either. Over the past few years, our energy had shifted to our blog, MillennialMarketing.com, guest posts on this and other blogs, and Twitter. Our website design was difficult to update and increasingly out of step with our offerings. We planned to publish a new e-book in early February and wanted our website design to be as fresh as our book.
It was time to take action!
As a brand consultancy, a new website design evoked a special kind of anxiety. After all, others judge whether the cobbler can be trusted by what he wears on his own feet. What ‘shoes’ did we want to wear? Happily, once started, the whole process was less stressful and more fun than expected. Our only regret is that we waited so long.
Here is some of what we learned:
1. Decide What to Say
We started by articulating our message in the form of a credentials presentation. Then we built our story around the idea of being ‘a black jelly bean,’ a metaphor inspired by one of our clients. This proved to be a good approach as our message was clear from the beginning. The next challenge was translating the message into a web format.
2. Decide on a Look and Feel
If you were buying a custom designed dress, you’d start by going to runway shows, leafing through pattern books, and looking at what the stars are wearing. We learned a lot by going to other sites, exploring existing templates and themes, and reaching agreement on what we liked and didn’t like. We decided we wanted a clean, content rich website design that did not immediately peg us as a market research firm or ad agency. Finally, we wanted to be seen as not just smart but also fun to do business with. Colorful images would be needed to add the right amount of whimsy.
3. Learn to Code
Just kidding, but we did start down that road. After all, Doug Rushkoff meant it when he said “program or be programmed.” However, after spending time talking with GoDaddy tech and Joomla support sites and reading through “Joomla for Dummies”, we were convinced this was a job for a pro. After all, even the simplest couture dress won’t be the same if you make it yourself! The upside of exploring the DIY (Do It Yourself) option was that we were an educated customer. We knew the meaning of key acronyms, had made the all important Joomla vs. WordPress decision, and were familiar with what Joomla software could do before looking for a partner.
4. Select the Right Design Partner
Pricing was similar from all three of the firms we talked to, and all seemed well-qualified. Our choice of Joomla Design Studios turned out to be a great decision. Just as Project Runway contestants make great new looks from scraps of fabric and other objects, our design firm created a great new look from our existing material – our credentials deck, articles, and whitepapers.
5. Be Accessible
Creating a content rich website is a lot like building a house (yes, we are switching metaphors for a second). First you develop the overall navigation and structure, then you appoint each room, and finally you decorate each room with suitable artwork. Each step requires many tiny and not-so-tiny choices. We visited the online “worksite” nearly every day to see what progress had been made. We made good use of collaboration tools – Skype and GotoMeeting enabled frequent conferences on issues as they arose. Dropbox allowed us to easily share content for the site. The frequent interaction led to some great ideas we would not have come up with on our own.
6. Recognize It Is Never Done
Our new website design premiered on February 3. We love it. It does a great job of showcasing our e-book and other content. This time, we don’t intend to allow the site to stagnate. Content needs to be fresh if it’s to be more than a brochure, so we plan to make frequent updates and alterations.
A new website design helped us further clarify our brand, who we are, and what we offer. We are very satisfied with the results — we not only got new shoes but a new dress and bag as well. We’re ready to go to the dance. See you at the ball!