“How to paint a moving car.” Or
“It’s like changing a tire on a moving car.”
I couldn’t decide on a title for this post. I felt that suggesting your car (website) had a flat tire may imply that it’s broken or not working properly. And that totally may be the case. However, I didn’t want to ONLY imply this was targeting jalopy websites but also normally functioning websites. Websites like my neighbors 2000 Honda Accord. Although it’s got well over 200,000 miles on it, it’s still doing the job just fine.
If you haven’t come to this crossroads yet, you most likely will in the future. The time will come when you’ll have a choice to either “paint your car” or buy a new car… all while managing your day-to-day business. This can pose a huge distraction and timesuck. Congratulations though, this is normally a sign of growth as a business. In many of our client’s cases, there’s a specific need to recreate, upgrade, or fix their website. It can be a challenge to juggle all of the unknowns at once, so I broke it down to a simple 3-step process that I think will help in that decision making process.
***Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting this is a rigid “how-to”. There must always be individual considerations and the anticipations of constant unknowns to overcome.***
Step 1 (Differences between your site and your dream site)
Take 10 minutes to list out all the differences between your current website and your dream website. This will help you determine if your current website is even worth the effort. Plus, this helps us better understand your overall vision, thus informing us on how we can best support you along the way.
If this list is full of extensive, weighted, and costly changes then maybe it’s time to consider scrapping the site and start over. This doesn’t mean you lose all your valuable content, it just means you’ll be given the opportunity to optimize it and present it in a more effective way.
In this step, you may discover that with a few, well thought out changes, your website actually could achieve the same goals as your dream site. If that is the case, proceed to Step 2!
Step 2 (Is it broken? Or just need a tuneup?)
So now, take another 10 minutes to list out what is working on your current website and what is not working. This could be actual functionality (such as a flat tire) or it could also be based on the click-through rate, conversion rate, or overall user experience… it just doesn’t look good and visitors are bouncing.
The average ecommerce bounce rate is 120%-45% and one of the main reasons a visitor will bounce is page layout. The rate and cause will vary depending on your industry but ultimately, you want your website to have as low of a rate as possible. You got them there… don’t lose them because your site looks dated or is tough to navigate.
Once you’ve compiled this list, I’d suggest prioritizing them. The top of your list should be what you believe to be the most impactful changes and then progressively get to the more subtle changes.
Step 3 (Professional Services = Partner)
This step gives Cascade the opportunity to review your lists, offer realistic feedback, address any questions that arise, and finally provide you with options that will align with your dreamy goals. That seems like an abrupt end to all your hard work so far… So let me expand this a little.
We prefer solutions that solve the root issue and make your job easier versus only addressing the symptoms. Focusing on specific issues on the site such as conversion barriers, bottleneck user flow, or the aforementioned bounce rate help us all avoid a backlog of unrelated symptoms. And we understand you can’t afford downtime on a website in the frivolous pursuit of constant tweaks. You’ll have tangible options that allow you to prioritize your most urgent or impactful needs based on your timeline or budget.
Project Tips (from a Project Manager)
From the onset, stick to the plan. We live and die by the three pillars of project-based work… Scope (details about the work going to be performed), Timeline (when we are planning on completing the project, including major milestones), and Budget (what we are estimating it will take to complete the scoped project). However, the nature of our business and projects are that we will most likely discover unknowns in the process. We try our best to account or anticipate them but chances are, we won’t get them all. But don’t worry, there’s no need to panic. Again, you have options. Either we re-evaluate the project or assign the unknown to a phase 2. Sometimes the only way to unearth an unknown is by taking the steps to get there.
Before the project begins, take the time to gather all your assets into one folder and share them with us. This would include things like images, text, and any design elements required to complete the project. This helps maximize time spent during the process and reduces the risk of delay. Not to mention, you will have fewer distractions from your day-to-day by having to scramble and source the requested asset. This also means that you include all stakeholders in the early steps of the project so that their suggestions and input help contribute to the overall scope. Gathering their insight will help us all avoid late-stage changes, delays in delivery, and fewer budget implications.
Back to the car analogy… whether you’ve got a daily-driver or a high performance track car, there may come a time when you need to put some work into it without stopping. And I can only assume that you’ll probably be juggling your job responsibilities and a few others. So take a breath, make your lists, and see what your next steps will be.
Either way, we’re here for that.
~ Simon Hartt
Project & Brand Manager