Web Site Redesign: Classic Client Mistakes

May 22, 2006 by  

An enthusiastic client can be a great thing. Especially when he/she is committed to executing a project and willing to invest the necessary time to accomplish it.

From my experience here are classic signals a Web site redesign is being set up to fail:

– Client is reacting because a senior executive made a comment the site needs to be redesigned. Chances are, high-level decision makers are so disconnected from the day-to-day activities or decisions that were made, that their opinion is not well informed.

– Client sets unrealistic and arbitrary deadline as to when the revision needs to be live. Picking a date that feels appropriate and is not based on sound rationale just creates chaos. A project plan should be drafted first to understand and assess the work to be done. Then variables (scope, money) can be adjusted to shorten the duration if necessary.

– Client doesn’t allow time to assess direct competitors are doing.

– Client doesn’t permit interviews of key stakeholders.

– Client doesn’t act as the key decision maker among stakeholders. A single point of contact (SPOC) is critical to take all the internal input, distill what is critical and DECIDE on what will and wont be accepted.

– Client thinks a redesign can be done without benefit of any basic research to understand the consumer needs (not what Marketing wants). BIG RED FLAG. You need to understand how the site is currently being used, who is visiting and are their needs being met.

– Client wants to skip Information Architecture planning and jump straight to creative design. Defining the primary user types and carefully planning how to fulfill their needs from the home page is a critical step.

– Client doesn’t want to plan for Search Engine Optimization as part of the redesign, and would rather retrofit as a phase two. SEO tactics have changed considerably in recent years. It is critical to apply current best practices into design, copywriting and programming in order to improve organic search results.

– Client continuously causes scope creep and fails to respect freeze points in the project plan. Changing scope and making modifications along the way only creates chaos. It disrupts a careful plan, causes more work and money to be spent and probably extends the launch schedule.

– Client refuses to allow Brand essence or a “voice” to be defined. This is critical , especially for copywriting, in order to make sure the entire site has a unified message, and so post launch content enhancements tend to match what has been established already.

– The client fails to engage the in-house IT/development team early on and make sure they have the necessary experience to execute, as well as the resources to accomplish the project.

I might have missed a few. Do you have a client horror story to share? Please post your comments.

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