The top 5 mistakes People Make When Building Their Website

Every time someone calls me in to rescue their website project, I often see a pattern where the organization missed on a few steps during the initial development process. Often what brings down the project are just a few avoidable practices that the organization could make part of its own internal processes and avoid all the pain and hurt latter on of having:

  • A Stalled project – that lasts for months and months.
  • A Terrible looking branding website.
  • A Good looking website that misses the mark in terms of convincing potential clients / partners to work with you vs your competitors.

1. Delegating The Task To a Different Staff Member

This often happens where the Director is understandably too busy to handle the management of the project all by himself and thus hands in down to his manager / IT manager to oversee the project. In most cases this works IF the director doesn’t really care much about the design or functionalities to be incorporated within the website.

If however you really care about this but are still too busy, then always make sure to show up during the initial meeting so that you provide your input and direction to the managers and designer at the same time to avoid latter miscommunication where the manager distorts your creative vision when passing the message to the designer. Once you have given your creative input you can then be updated at critical milestones along the way and this way the end product isn’t a ‘surprise’.

2. Hiring The Wrong Person for the Job

Hiring a web designer today is easy – hiring the RIGHT web designer is however often the challenge. I’ve dealt with many projects where the designer abandoned the project halfway after getting another ‘deal’ elsewhere or for some reason getting bored with the project. We’ve also seen projects where the designer couldn’t get the design right or didn’t understand the client’s exact concept and how to bring it into reality.

The problem here stems from the fact that most of these people are not designers – they may be an IT person or even a software developer and Web Design isn’t their specialty even though they might have a couple of websites that they’ve designed. So unless you don’t really care about the success of your website always hire a specialist website designer.

3. Not Being Clear on Your Strategic Objective

During your initial meeting with your designer be sure to communicate your strategic objective. A strategic objective can be – ‘we want to use our website to pre-sell people so that by the time they visit our office they are sold on wanting to enroll with us’ or ‘we want to use the website to generate more leads for our sales department’. Once you know your strategic reasons for what you want the website to do for you, you then prioritize this list starting with the most important.

The reason you also want to be clear on this is that there will be times where you might have to trade off one thing for another, if you want to sell your 1 book on your website – then the slider can be traded for a lead capture form on the homepage, this is just one example where knowing your bigger objective matters.

4. Slow Feedback to Your Designer

During the course of the project there will be several materials that will be required by the designer as well as feedback on what you think of the ongoing work to prevent you from receiving a shock on the unveiling and to provide you with the opportunity to course correct the design before it’s too late or too expensive to make changes.

What we find happening in this case is a situation where you are too busy to submit whatever materials are required by the designer causing a slowdown in the delivery schedule. If you can have the designers help you with the content writing and photography even if it costs a little bit more.

5. Poor Understanding of what goes into a website

Finally its important to get to understand the various components that go into a website. Now depending on your initial objective these will vary. One especially huge mistake most organizations will make if they don’t have someone guiding them properly is the content development and production. You’d be surprised how many people can’t write the story about their organization and what they do – understandably this isn’t a strong suit for most people. And an even bigger one is where you try to control the flow of the project leading to a big fail in the end.

If your designer clearly understands your strategic objective of your website then he should guide you through out the process – clearly explaining what needs to go where and why. For instance if you wanted a lead generation type of website but are talking about galleries and sliders, then you in the wrong conversation and you should look to your designer for guidance instead of pushing the wrong idea and getting frustrated that it didn’t work out.

6. A Design By Committee Approach

This is probably every designer’s worst fear though you may not realize this as a client. The organization that prefers to hold a committee for every design change or at every design stage & doesn’t have a clear emerging leader within the committee who will make final decisions and stick by them will usually also end-up with an website that tries to cram everyone’s ideas and concepts into it and eventually no one is impressed.

The best way to structure your committee is to limit it to just 2 or 3 people but if you must have more people involved ensure you elect the person whose creative opinion you most respect – if there’s ever a stalemate this leader’s final decision will be the only one that will matter.

Additionally have your design committee leader be the only interface between you and the designer. This will ensure that one of the committee members isn’t having his ideas implemented in the back while the rest are still deliberating. Usually in this case the project ends up increasing in cost because the designer is running back and forth between one committee member who has a ‘brilliant idea’ and another who wants what was done to be undone.

Finally when setting up the committee agree on when you will be meeting with the designer to discuss the progress and agree on any changes in direction.