How to Avoid Common Web Design Delays and Keep Your Project on Track
Avoiding Web Design Delays is Critical
We’re sometimes asked by new clients if we can deliver on time. And we usually respond by asking them the same question.
Designing or redesigning their business or e-commerce website is a big deal for most business owners. Not only does professional website design cost money; it takes up the business owner’s time as well. Especially for smaller businesses both of those are major concerns. Unfortunately, many business owners themselves are causing web design delays!
Website design projects come in two basic varieties; businesses either need a new business website or are looking to re-design an existing website. While the projects unfold in slightly different ways, they do require the same level of client input to keep them moving forward.
What You Need to Know
In this post, I want to outline the most common reasons for web design delays that are faced by small businesses and individual professional service providers. I will outline the most common issues with B2B web design projects separately, as they tend to be more complicated.
We have worked with small and large clients around the world to create their online presence. Most of these projects went very smoothly. We even set a new record in 2015 for creating a new brand, content, and website in just 27 days, and on budget!
But every so often a project does go sideways. By not knowing any better some business owners sabotage their own projects. Here are the most common reasons for projects running late, and how you can avoid common web design delays.
Common Causes for Web Design Delays
Sometimes people say one thing and mean another. Some call it sarcasm, but it simply adds confusion and uncertainty to any web design project. Sometimes a client will give you clear instructions and then go back on those instructions claiming that they want or always wanted something different.
Always get things in writing, especially with official sign-offs like on a design or a finalized site. Just like in the real world—no one can fight against fact and having a client’s “facts” in their own writing is the best argument against this situation and the best way to help keep a project on track to meet its launch date.
Lack of Direction
Some clients can’t even agree on what they really want and need. The business owner wants one thing. The marketing department wants another. Asking a web designer or agency to mediate and negotiate between the different sides is not part of the project scope in most cases.
It takes up valuable time that should be spent designing your site. It is better to work on these issues outside of your project and come to the table with a clear direction.
Many agencies like us offer a strategy or discovery phase. This ensures that all sides are clear on the direction and goals before you start the project. Establish clear business and marketing goals you need to reach. Create buyer personas to determine what your website visitors will require.
This will determine your content, messaging, and site architecture. Do this before design and development begin. The alternative is to pay your agency to act as your playground monitor.
One of the first things we create at the beginning of a project is project scope. But some clients are prone to want to add to this scope as the project unfolds–we call this “scope creep.” They may remember that they need to add an extra form, want to add an extra page, think that adding a portal for clients to log into will solve an occurring issue they have, etc. Some of these additions are simple and can be completed without issue, whereas some of them can severely impact the overall project (both the timeline and the cost).
Write up the project scope and have both parties review it together and sign it before the project kicks off. That way when scope creeping occurs, you have an official document to fall back on as a reference.
If a client continues to push for changes, we will let them know that they are essentially beginning the project from scratch (based on the requested scope changes). A new scope document will need to be created, and a new quote created for additional effort hours.
Designing a business website is a two-way process. Some clients don’t understand that. Missing meeting times, not responding to emails or phone calls, and not completing action items causes problems. The web designer or agency has to spend more time managing your project and reminding you than building your website. We love our clients, but we don’t want to become your babysitter!
Make absolutely sure you understand what is required of you. At the beginning of every project, we provide the client with a series of project checklists and explain what we need from the client in order to complete their project on time and on budget.
This helps our clients understand what is required, how much time they need to allow, and how responsive they need to be before they become a bottleneck.
The Client is Busy
Our business is the business of getting websites made, but oftentimes we forget that the companies for which we are building these websites are busy running their own businesses. It is not a deliberate or conscious slowness on their part regarding their feedback times (or an MIA situation), it’s just that the client literally does not have the proper time to follow along on the same timeline that was originally established. They probably agreed to the timeline at the beginning of the project, but life always happens.
In these types of situations, we try our best to help keep the client and project on track, while also remaining compassionate and empathetic that they have their own companies to run and lives to deal with. Honest communication usually helps solve this issue, and then together we can work to make a timeline and figure out a site launch date that works for both parties.
The Client Disappears
Sometimes a client isn’t just unresponsive, they straight up disappear. At times we feel like a search and rescue party is needed. They do not respond to emails, calls and voicemails go unreturned, there is absolutely no communication from the client at all.
When this happens, it is obviously going to impact the timeline and launch date. If we have done all that we can do in order to try and get in communication with the client (minus showing up at their house) then at this point all there is to do is move them to the bottom of the priority list and wait for them to come back around…they usually do.
A better way to avoid common web design delays is to dedicate more than one person to handle your web design project. That way you always have a backup person in case you get busy, or simply disappear.
Not Providing Content
This is a very common website design problem! Entrepreneurs and business owners are notorious for believing they can do everything on their own. You need to be realistic if you have the time and expertise for content creation. Even Google recommends that you do not create content without professional help! Don’t forget that your design team will need your content to determine your design.
Start creating your own content as soon as possible. Set time aside to focus on writing. Ask your web designer or agency for SEO keyword recommendations if you plan to implement a search strategy. Or simply have your web design agency create your content as part of the project. If they do not provide content creation services, ask them if they can refer you to a professional copywriter.
The more time a client changes their mind or direction the more time the web design agency has to spend to redo the work. In a worst-case scenario, they have to start all over! Many agencies like us have different teams in different locations working on the same project. Communicating all the changes alone can become a big mess.
Decide on a plan at the beginning of the project and stick to it! Agencies like us would rather go over all your options at the beginning than bill you for all the redesign and redevelopment work. But we will if we have to!
Too Much Feedback
We understand clients want to get as much feedback about their new site as possible. But asking everyone you know what he or she thinks at every step is a really bad idea! Conflicting opinions will only overwhelm you. Getting validation is understandable. But you will get that once the site launches and you can start looking at data.
Only ask your most trusted partners, associates, and advisors for their opinions during the design and development process. Then appoint a single person on your team to evaluate them and select relevant comments. This will avoid sending conflicting messages to the agency or designer.
Trying to Be Perfect
There is a saying in our industry you should keep in mind: “The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch.” Many business owners believe their website has to be pixel perfect before it can be useful. It is much more effective to launch something that you can keep improving instead of sitting with an almost-finished website for months and months.
If you made the smart decision to build a WordPress business website, you can update and add content after your site launches.
We always recommend a phased approach to any website design project. Launch the “minimum viable website” you need to engage your audience and serve your customers. Start collecting data about how visitors are engaging with your new site. Use that information to launch additional features and content over time.
Unforeseen Technical Issues
Sometimes when project scope is created at the beginning of a project, there are hidden issues within that plan that can be unforeseen and overlooked by even the best developers. Sometimes the issues come from third-party integrations, obtaining proper domain registrar and hosting information, third-party platforms that were intended to fulfill a functionality don’t actually work as intended…The list could (and often does) go on and on. There will always be issues in the unknown and even more so in the technical world of website development.
We do our best to communicate with the client, explain the issues to them, what we are doing to solve them, and present an approximate new projected launch date that will be confirmed once the issue is fully addressed. They may not fully understand the technical components of the conversation, but they appreciate the open communication and be less likely to get upset if kept in the loop.
Avoiding Common Web Design Delays
As you can tell business owners don’t intend to cause web design delays. The last thing they want is more problems or higher costs. All they want is to get a business website that will help them run and grow their business. But getting a new business website is a lot more complicated than ordering new business cards.
Getting a new business website is a big deal for most business owners, we get that. You want to avoid bad web design agencies and get the most from your web designer. And there are a number of things to consider before you develop your new business website.
Your web design agency should be committed to being a good service partner and provider. You should be committed to being a good client. If everyone works together as a team toward a shared vision of success the project will end well, and everyone will be happy! Are you ready for a successful website design for your business? We are here to help!
Need Help Avoiding Common Web Design Delays?
So, did your website design project end up in a shamble? Did you end up launching an unfinished site and don’t know what to do next? Or did this scare you enough not to want to start your website design or redesign project at all? No worries, our team has you covered!
Do you want to create a functional, thoughtful, and user-friendly website for your business or product brand? Our team of professional designers will be happy to help you with this. First, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
Then, if you believe we are a good fit for your web design needs, let’s talk! We offer a full range of consulting and design services for businesses and product brands, including custom web design and development, e-commerce solutions, multilingual web design, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
And if you are still not sure how you can keep your web design project on track, let’s talk! Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and help you avoid common web design delays. It is one of our specialties, after all!
Is Your Web Design Project Behind Schedule or Over Budget?
Have web design project delays cost you valuable time and money? If so, how did you deal with these problems? If not, what did you do to avoid web design delays? Did you have other problems with your web design project?
I know there are other things out there that should be on this list, so please share your thoughts. What else can delay a web design project? Are there items on this list that you do not think are important?
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Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO