How to Slay the Top Web Design Challenges Startups Face
:: By Pete Peranzo, Imaginovation ::
Is your digital presence aligned with your business goals? When potential clients find your company online, your website is often the first thing they’ll see. Your site design can inspire confidence in prospects, or it can convey an amateur vibe. It can bring you queries, leads, and traffic--or it can be a money pit.
For startups in their early stages of growth, a website’s quality is even more important, as it serves as your introduction to the world. Here are some of the common Web design challenges startups face, along with suggestions on how to conquer them.
1. Finding the right Web design agency
When it comes to finding the perfect Web design agency, many small businesses find themselves paralyzed with too many choices. There are many quality digital agencies out there providing excellent services. How do you know where to start?
• Check out their portfolio. Any digital agency should proudly display their work along with links to their campaigns and websites. The proof is in the pudding, so check out their work to gauge the level of the agency’s expertise and experience.
• Go through the agency’s website in detail. A professional agency’s site should be the pinnacle of their work. There should be no errors or broken links, and the material should convince you of their caliber and professionalism.
• Look closely at the color scheme, their logo, the loading time, and the transition effects.
• Go through the content. A good agency should have a long list of blog articles, with many relevant topics. Are their blog posts informative? Have the owners or other people from the agency appeared on other authoritative sites in their industry?
• Be critical of their philosophy, and whether it is all coming together beautifully and smoothly on their website. This is important, because it demonstrates that the agency understands the challenges and nuances of bringing a vision to life.
• You might also what to check out the Twitter or Facebook profiles of the owners and the agency itself. High quality agencies typically have a good following on social.
2. Honing a vision
Before you visit an agency, make sure you have a super clear understanding of your own vision. No agency in the world can help you if you lack a proper vision.
Ask yourself a few pointed questions:
• What exactly is the business about? What are your ethos? In the sea of small businesses, what do you stand for and what makes you unique?
• Who is the target audience and how well do you know them? Do you know of their preferences, the kind of content they like to read, the websites they prefer?
• What message does the business, and therefore the website, need to convey?
• What do you want the website, and therefore the Web design, to accomplish for the business?
Having a clear vision and message will not only make for a great website, it will help with the design process.
3. Conveying your vision
Whether you’ve hired an individual or an agency to design your website, it’s important to make sure you convey your vision in precise terms.
First, make sure you fully understand your own vision, so you are able to answer questions as they arise. It’s much easier to convey our vision to others when we are clear about what we want and why. Repeat yourself as many times as needed.
Any confusion or uncertainty on your part will make the job of the Web designer difficult, waste time, and yield disappointing results.
Of course, visions evolve with time. As a website takes shape, you may realize you do not want certain elements or that certain parts don’t look as good as you had thought they would. Sometimes colors don’t come together. People can have endless discussions on the font type.
It’s all good. This indicates you and the hired team are brainstorming together, committed to producing a website that meets your goals and makes the designers proud of their creation.
The important thing to keep in mind throughout all this is this: You must make sure to fully explain your vision to the designers at each stage of the design, so they completely understand what you want from them. That is your responsibility.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of ongoing communication at every stage. There is just so much that can get lost in translation or simply not get conveyed at all. Even if you have poured your heart out to the designers, fully and clearly creating your vision, it’s still essential to keep reinforcing your ideas.
Websites are complex entities that demand detailed thought and care. Even though you’ve hired a professional designer, your expertise is still required, and your job is not done. Creating an excellent website is accomplished through excellent teamwork.
This is a bigger challenge than you can imagine, especially when global teams or different time zones are involved. But there are ways to make the process smoother and proficient:
• Schedule weekly meetings with the designer to monitor progress. If you can do it twice a week, even better.
• In addition to scheduled meetings, be in touch via Skype, WhatsApp or any other messenger to ensure things are progressing smoothly. Be available in case your designer has a question (we guarantee you, they will!)
• It’s better to have lengthy conversations several times a week than a serious one when the website is half-done and looking nothing like what you had in mind. Yes, this can happen even when the original vision has been conveyed to the best of your ability. People have different working styles. Sometimes, when a ton of material is conveyed, designers may lose the understanding of where the focus should be. So be in touch continually with the agency--that is my best advice to you.
5. Designing with the end-user in mind
Ultimately, the visitor should find your website useful and a joy to navigate. That is the purpose of all the thinking, brainstorming, and going back and forth over important topics. You won’t believe how many startup entrepreneurs forget the website is not about you, it’s about your target audience.
What to do about it:
Don’t get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the big picture. Yes, it’s good to know that turquoise is more effective than navy blue for your purpose, but is it really going to make a difference to the end-user?
That is the question you need to answer. Both the website owner and the designer need to keep the users in mind through the process. Be willing to listen to the feedback of the designer, too; if they feel a proposed aspect would be detrimental to the purpose of the website, do take that into consideration. It’s one thing to have a vision, and quite another to be so stubborn about it that you do not listen to anyone.
6. A lack of adequate testing
Don’t make the website live unless you are sure you have everything running smoothly. Test it on multiple browsers and across devices. A responsive Web design is a must.
Make sure all the pages are loading, the information is accurate, the videos are up, and the plugins are where they should be.
Keep calm and carry on
Web design can be stressful work but is also immensely gratifying. It’s a bit like giving birth. At the end of frequent long and tiring sessions, you will have something to be proud of. But you also need to exercise a lot of care at every stage to ensure things progress smoothly.
What challenges have you faced in setting up your website? How did you conquer them? Please share your insights in the comments below!
Pete Peranzo is the CEO of Imaginovation, a full-service, turn-key digital solutions company serving Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC. He is a results driven individual with over 15 years in the IT and software industry. Pete’s background in customer support is a driving factor in the company’s long-term success and reputation. He has embedded customer service into the company's core culture, and feels that fast turnaround, great communication and high quality support are keys to long-term business relationships.
Follow him on Twitter @PetePeranzo.