Revenue & Features Editor, Co-host of Content Lab, 15+ Years of Writing and Teaching Experience
January 6th, 2021
You’ve got really big goals for 2021 — and your business website is critical to driving the traffic, leads, and sales you need to grow and thrive in the coming year.
And now, as you’re sitting in a sales call with a web design agency, you hear something that quickens your pulse:
"We know a lot of other agencies say websites can take months. But we can deliver you a peak-performing, lead-generating website in only 30 days, including strategy, design, development, and content. Our entire team will be working on your project alone."
You’re thrilled. You were expecting the process to take months. Thirty days sounds amazing!
But then, doubt starts to creep in. You hear that little voice in your head asking the question you didn’t want to ask yourself:
"Is this too good to be true?"
Is the offer too good to be true?
After all, if most agencies’ estimates for a website redesign are measured in months, and one is measured in days, that’s a pretty big difference. Any time there’s an outlier that sits that far away from everyone else, it’s going to prompt a lot of questions.
The first and most obvious question is the one you've already asked yourself: Is it simply too good to be true? A website is a huge investment, and you’re likely worried that corners are going to get cut when you’re traveling at break-neck speed.
The second question is this: Are there limits to what can get done in such a short time frame, even with a full team?
I mean, if a construction company said they could build my entire custom-designed house in 10 days, starting with a blank plot of ground, I’d have a few follow-ups — no matter how big their team was. My foremost concerns would be centered around two issues:
Are we rushing through the custom design process? Is the house still custom to my needs, or is it picked out of a template gallery? How well does the designer really understand my family and our needs in such a short time?
Are there parts of construction that simply can’t be sped up? Concrete has to set, paint has to dry. There are some things that just take time — and having a team of more people can’t speed them up.
If you’re in the market for a website redesign and are considering an agency that's promising an ultra-quick turnaround solution, here are some questions you should be asking (according to a development and design expert) to know if the offer is actually too good to be true.
Full disclosure: We design and build websites
IMPACT’s web team designs and builds websites for companies all over the world. We employ brilliant strategists, designers, developers, and project managers who see these projects to completion — all in an efficient and cost-effective manner. But we believe rushing through a redesign process is foolhardy.
In fact, as we’ve tweaked our service offerings over the past 12 months, we’ve actually advocated for extending the website redesign process — starting with a five-month blueprint development, then leading to a “launchpad site” that represents the core of a client’s web presence. Then, over subsequent months we test, tweak, build, gather data, and optimize our client's site.
This process, known as growth-driven design and advocated by HubSpot, yields a site that is informed by user data and is easy to update for your team of non-coders.
In short, we believe you need to slow down to speed up.
Too often in the past we had seen companies pay top dollar for a shiny new site — only to find six or eight months after launch that it wasn’t doing what they needed it to do. Then, they’d have to go back to their agency and pay more money (or start over with someone new) in order to get the site that they really needed all along.
Needless to say, you don’t want this to happen to you.
So, what should you be asking of a sounds-too-good-to-be-true website redesign deal?
How can you evaluate the lofty promises of an agency? How can you be sure you’re getting your money’s worth? Vin Gaeta is director of web services at IMPACT, and he has more than a dozen years of project management and development experience.
According to Vin, here’s what you should be asking (and why) as you determine whether an accelerated website redesign is a good fit for you.
1. What you need to ask: What level of strategy can I actually expect in 30 days?
Why it’s a concern: Your website is the greatest marketing and sales asset your business has. Just as you wouldn’t launch a marketing campaign or redesign your sales process without a strategy, your website needs to be built on a strategic foundation that takes into account your business, your industry, your customers, SEO, site structure, and much more.
A 30-day build invariably makes the planning stage alarmingly short. Will a few days planning be sufficient to lay the groundwork for years to come? How well will the agency get to know your products or services? Your industry? Your customers? Your business goals?
Bottom line: You don't want to find yourself with a brand new website that doesn’t meet your business’ needs in a few months because it’s built on hasty or incomplete strategy.
2. What you need to ask: How customized will the website be?
Why it’s a concern: This is the reason you’re working with an agency in the first place. You need a site that’s built for your business, your services, your users. You want to be able to stand out in your industry — not have a version of what your competitors have. So, with a 30-day timeline, can your website actually be custom built?
If the website isn’t customized to your needs (or that customization is limited) it might, in turn, limit what you get out of the whole redesign process.
If you’d be happy with a template-based approach, there are going to be cheaper options for you.
Bottom line: You don’t want to get stuck paying custom-level prices for template-level results.
3. What you need to ask: Will I need a developer to update it?
Why it’s a concern: We all know your website isn’t something you can set and forget. You’ll need to update it frequently as your offerings change. At the most basic, you’ll want to add to your blog, introduce new team members, and update product pages.
You’ll likely also want to regularly update your website to make sure it’s providing the best experience for your users. This means building landing pages, refreshing the copy on your pages, and more.
Will you need a developer to do these things, or can marketers without a coding background suffice?
4. What you need to ask: Our organization needs a very large site. Can the agency still deliver?
Why it’s a concern: Most custom websites IMPACT builds are over 500 pages. Some are over 1000. The more pages, of course, the more work it takes to build the site.
With a 30-day build, you want to make sure the entirety of your site can get built in that time, even if the site is large. And if the project runs long, how does that affect cost?
Bottom line: You need to know that their team can handle your needs.
5. What you need to ask: So, what if the project runs long?
Why it’s a concern: We’ve built hundreds of sites in the past ten years. We’ve found that it takes a lot of time and research to estimate exactly how big a project is and how long it will take. What makes a project run long? There might be additional site sections that the client overlooks at first, or content creation takes longer than anticipated.
If your project runs over 30 days, are you responsible for paying a retainer or other fees? Does your dedicated team move on to the next project, leaving you with a skeleton crew or worse?
Knowing how common delays are, you’ll want to be sure about the contingency plan.
Bottom line: Sometimes projects run long. Make sure you know what happens on day 31.
6. What you need to ask: Can the agency really guarantee that all the necessary content gets done on time?
Why it’s a concern: We’ve found that content is often an unforeseen hold-up for web projects. Clients can easily underestimate just how time-consuming and difficult it is to write the content that makes their homepage, about us pages, and service pages come alive.
On your website, you need the language to be just right, and rushing through content production never ends well. After all, content is the soul of your business.
Bottom line: Your website copy needs to be perfect, and perfection takes time.
Buyer beware: If it sounds too good to be true, make sure to ask questions
In any facet of business, there are always going to be companies who will offer to do something faster or cheaper, promising to trim the fat and deliver a better experience to customers. When agencies vie with each other to best serve clients, those clients win. Competition pushes development, efficiency, and innovation.
But not every new offer is worth it. When a deal simply sounds too good to be true, it’s a wise move to start kicking the tires and figuring out all you can about the offer before you plunk down your payment.
If an agency is offering to redesign your website in 30 days — and this timeline is a drastic outlier from what you’ve heard elsewhere — start asking questions and speaking to past clients to make sure the process will work for your business’ goals.
You’ll need that website to serve you well for years to come.
While a quick fix is certainly attractive, make sure you’re not going to get rushed through the steps that truly make your website the critical sales and marketing asset it should be.
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