As a PR and marketing agency we often help clients develop new websites. We recently went through the same experience.

We are a professional services firm that needed a website upgrade. We wanted to move from an older brochure-style website to a lead generation site that better reflects who we are today, showcases our thought leadership and gives clients and prospects a path to engage more fully with our organization.

It was a great experience (and reminder) to walk in our clients’ shoes. Here are a few things we learned:

  1. We painfully debated every image. It happens to everyone. Putting up a website feels like adding a permanent tattoo with every image and word you pick. We knew better than to fall into this trap, but we did. Eventually we listened to our outside partners who had a less emotional grasp on the situation. This helped us move on to a beautiful representation of our brand that will effectively speak to people outside of our organization – which was our goal all along.
  2. Website project management software is not a great customer experience. There are many tools used by web design and development firms to manage the process. They are important and critical to keeping everyone on the same page and inputting and receiving feedback. But we find them all clunky from the customer perspective. This time was no different. It’s important to keep this in mind when preparing for a website overhaul.
  3. We could not get consensus on design. We did not anticipate that our highly functioning team would not agree on a design. In the end we picked a leader to pick a direction. Not everyone was convinced but they supported the final effort. When we work with clients on web overhauls we usually look for senior team consensus and this reminded us that it is not always possible.
  4. Good websites need more copy than you expect. Much of what we do for a living is write. So, generating copy is not a painful endeavor. Even still, we were surprised by the sheer volume of new copy that was needed for our new site. Particularly with a lead-gen site, we wanted every page to thoughtfully lead to another piece of content, another call to action, etc. This is critical to plan for when embarking on a website project. Be sure you have a team member with ample time to dedicate to copy production (or review, if an agency partner is writing the copy.)
  5. We need better sources and searchability for stock imagery and video. Stock photography has come a long way. There are beautiful, unique images and video available that convey complex emotions, metaphors, cultures and places. But you still see the same images come up. Searches still deliver too many pages of images, even with multiple refining terms. The last thing you want is the same image on your site and on the site of a competitor. We need more competition in stock imagery and web designers need to find ways to dig deeper. We’re committed to finding the best, unique imagery for our clients’ projects and our website was no different. For this reason, this step took more time than we originally anticipated.

Like everyone who has been through a complex website rebuild, we are thrilled to be on the other side of it! But in all seriousness, we are incredibly proud of our new site and I believe it accurately reflects our passion for what we do. Not only that, but it was a valuable reminder for us, so we can even more effectively guide clients in the future.

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