On the brink of a website launch? Or maybe a major redesign? If your firm is like most, it’s been a long time coming. We all have enormous expectations about how our sites can power our businesses and enhance our brands. We want them to live up to their promise and take advantage of sales momentum. And we don’t want to disappoint the marketplace.
To go big, we say: scale back.
Instead of a single major website launch, we recommend a measured, iterative approach. Launch one phase, get feedback from your clients, launch another phase, get more feedback. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Here’s why. Your website redesign or application launch is going to go through many internal phases, from discovery and design to development and beta testing. The problem is that none of these phases is something you can present to your clients or users. Sure, you can do usability testing along the way but that only increases your timeline. What’s more, it doesn’t typically provide accurate live data in real time from actual users. So while your head is buried for months at time-- or longer--working on your grand launch, you’ve created distance between you and your customers and likely missed out on lucrative opportunities.
Our experience says there’s a better way. Harness your budget, resources and professional assistance in developing a strong foundation from which to roll out enhancements in three-month intervals. For your first release:
- Don’t over-engineer too many features or over-complicated concepts
- Focus on your core audience and your firm’s clear differentiators
- Gather feedback, either informally or through professional services and sophisticated tools.
- Plan ahead for 2.0 and 3.0 releases, but keep those plans flexible. The idea is to use data and feedback from your first release to inform future ones.
Once you’ve set your scopes on a release date, stick with it. Don’t be distracted by what your competitors are doing or the never-ending advances in web trends and technology. We’ve seen that happen. It puts you in a defensive rather proactive mode, stalls your release and steers you away from a well-conceived strategy that has built-in flexibility.
Taking a phased approach benefits your business and your users in the long run. Launching sooner, with fewer features, rather than later does not mean sacrificing quality--quality is non-negotiable. It means getting your brand out there quickly with the features most valuable to your business and audience.
And we think there’s no better company for a case study of this approach than our own.
At Loewy, we just redesigned our own site. Because clients are always our priority, plans for the redesign have been on the drawing board since....2010! It was time. We set our launch deadline to coincide with the Magento Global Imagine eCommerce Conference we’re sponsoring this month. It’s an important event for us. We gave ourselves three months to plan, create and deploy the new site.
We took our long list of goals and objectives, put some on the back burner and zeroed in on the essentials for our April launch:
- We introduced our new brand and messaging: Loewy Design is now Loewy. We dropped “Design” because it no longer represents our full-service approach. Our site now communicates strategy, design, technology and marketing.
- We modernized the user experience. Although our previous site was a 2009 award winner, it no longer reflects current industry trends and best practices. Our new site is a responsive design, formatted to any device. It incorporates new user interface trends such as wide pages, social media integration, an SEO strategy, bold photography, more in-depth case studies, longer scrolling pages and a more open layout.
- We created a scalable foundation. The new site architecture is more fluid and can accommodate expansion. We’re also now on the CMS we recommend to many of our clients, WordPress. This will allow us to publish more often, taking advantage of WordPress’ many marketing and management tools.
Yes, we’re already thinking of many exciting features in our next release but, first, we’re looking forward to user feedback.