Why Website Design Projects Fail

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If your website is outdated or doesn’t work well on mobile devices, it’s smart to consider making some changes. Maybe you’re thinking about a website redesign or launching a brand new website.

Some website projects are doomed to failure from the very start. Other projects get bogged down or off-track.

Why do website design projects fail? As the business owner or stakeholder, how can you prevent this happening to your website?

Lack of planning or the wrong focus can cause your website design project to fail.

We’ve been building websites since 1999, so we’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. Failing to plan or focusing on the wrong objectives will have a negative impact on your project.

There are literally hundreds of items we take into consideration for each website we develop. It takes time, effort, and good communication to determine how those items relate to any given project.

To help you avoid the pain of a failed website, we’ve identified three specific scenarios that cause website design projects to fail. What are they?

The Design-First Approach

Good graphic design can mean the difference between an under-performing site and a really successful one. But, the look and design of your website should not be the first step in the planning process.

It happens all the time and can be an easy trap to fall into. Why? When you go looking for a web design company, you may spend a lot of time focusing on what websites look like. You’re evaluating a potential designer’s portfolio, and checking out the websites of your competitors. Likely, you’re browsing the web trying to find a style or layout that you like.

All that focus on what sites look like leading up to your project can make it seem like the natural progression is to put design first

Web designers are to blame for this too. Many web design companies have a graphic designer take the lead on the project. Or maybe the person hired for the job is a graphic designer. While they may be very talented and excel at what they do, they tend to put primary importance on what their skill set brings to the project.

So, the project begins by discussing the design, colors, what the website will look like. Then there’s some talk about what sections of the site you want (Home, About Us, Services, etc…). Before you know it, you’re looking at a mock-up of a proposed website. Then a decision is made to move forward based on that design.

Without even realizing, there can be a rush to the design phase between you and the graphic designer. The so-called planning process gets skewed toward designing first – to the detriment of everything else – like business objectives and customer needs.

Lack of Strategy or Business Skills

A successful website design project involves many skills. Web design, programming, user experience design, user interface design, website architecture, online marketing consulting, business strategy, search engine optimization, copy writing, to name a few.

If the individuals leading the web design project excel at graphic design, programming, or project management, but lack real business acumen, they will be unable to help you define what is really needed. Your project will fail to produce a website that helps grow your business.

If you went to the dentist, and as soon as you sat in the chair she grabbed the dental drill and was ready to go at it without ever asking why you’re there, wouldn’t you be concerned? How long would you sit in that chair?

You expect the dentist to talk with you about what you want or why you’re there. Perhaps an examination is in order to determine what problems there are, or the best procedure to help you.

Your website project is no different. Make sure the company you’re working with takes the time to learn about your business, what challenges you may be facing and what your goals are. Only then are they in a position to deliver a website that actually works for you.

You’d be surprised how many freelancers or web design companies don’t really have what it takes to help your business. They often focus on one-and-done projects, similar to how you might design a brochure or business cards.

A website designed to bring your business more leads and more sales takes more than just a one-time effort. The most successful website projects are progressive, always moving forward to accomplish your business objectives.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

A third scenario which can cause a website design project to fail: too many cooks in the kitchen. Sometimes called “design by committee”, your project is more likely to fail if it has too many people defining what the outcome will be. The same is true if you have one or more  people that don’t even work in the kitchen, but insist on wearing a chef’s hat.

Project requirements being defined by an individual or committee that doesn’t really understand the nuances of the web, or isn’t experienced with usability and best-practices for the web can cause unwanted results.

As a business owner or project stakeholder, you need to avoid problematic requirements like: “we want our site to be just like our competitor, but we don’t want to copy them”, or that the design needs to be “flashy, jazzed up, and really pop”.

If you hear those kinds of comments from your team, you know it’s time to dig a little deeper to define what the real objectives are.

You also need to steer clear of making decisions based solely on what you like or what you want. Your website isn’t about you, your management team, or your CEO. It’s about your visitors and customers. That’s what should guide your decisions.

Each person on your team has something valuable to contribute to the process. But don’t forget, you’ve hired a professional consultant or web design company because you value their skills and expertise. Trust them.

You Can Prevent Your Website Project From Failing

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of why website design projects fail. But, these three scenarios happen all the time and can be avoided. By looking out for them you can avoid these pitfalls.

Proper planning will help identify what your business really needs, and the best way to get it. You’ll be able to identify opportunities to increase revenue, and often decrease costs.

Remember, your website is about achieving business objectives, not just a design project.

Partner with a consultant or company that will help you determine the best path for you. Avoid a cookie-cutter approach to building websites.

Focus on the needs and desires of your customers and website visitors. Base your decisions on them, not on your personal preferences or what you want to see.

Trust the guidance of the the experts you hired to help you build a better business website. Their recommendations, based on sound principles, user behavior, and analysis, can make the difference between success or failure.

Want to take the next step toward a successful web design?

We’d love to talk with you and learn what you want to accomplish and what your greatest challenges are. If that sounds good to you, contact Required Media.