Why Your B2B Web Design Project is Running Late (And How to Do Better!)
Your B2B Web Design Project Got Off Track. What Happened?
Here at PixoLabo we work with lots of B2B clients on their web design or re-design projects. Working on B2B web design projects is a bit different than working with smaller brands or individual service providers. Not only is the project larger in scope, but there are more people involved at the client side as well. You would think that with these resources a B2B web design project would be fast and efficient. Yet unfortunately most B2B web design projects end up running late. So why is that?
B2B web design projects usually start with the best of intentions. And some of them continue along those lines and come to a successful conclusion. But for a variety of reasons many B2B web design projects end up running late. Sometimes the cause can be entirely unexpected; one time we had a marketing director die on us before we even got started. But those cases are fortunately very rare. The reasons why many B2B web design projects usually run late are much more mundane.
When a B2B web design project runs late it can cause problems for both sides. The client has to wait longer to get their new online presence up and running, which may result in missed marketing opportunities. And the web designer or agency has a project on their books longer than anticipated, which may limit their availability to work on other projects. Therefore, it is in the interest of both sides to keep projects running smoothly. In other words, you need to avoid the key reasons your B2B web design project is behind schedule.
Key Reasons Your B2B Web Design Project is Behind Schedule
Not Ready to Get Started
One way to keep your B2B web design project on track is to actually get started. Yet for some clients this is somehow not an option. We had one project where not only every key player was scheduled for vacation at the onset of the project, but also, they were planning to move their office as soon as everyone was back at work. As soon as our team was ready to get started, we were put on hold the first time.
To keep your B2B web design project on track right from the beginning make sure you are actually able and ready to do your part. Your web design partner is counting on you for at least some guidance, and to provide some initial content, like your brand logo.
If for some reason you are not ready to start your B2B web design project from your end don’t ask your service provider to get started. It is much more efficient to schedule your project for a time when both sides are ready to get started than constantly having to reschedule. And if you are not sure what getting started involves be sure to ask your web design partner.
Too Many Chiefs (And Too Many Indians)
You may believe that having a big team at your end will help keep your B2B web design project moving smoothly. While this sounds entirely reasonable it actually works the opposite way. You have heard the saying about too many chiefs, and not enough Indians. This holds true for B2B web design projects as well. Having too many decision makers will complicate your project instead of simplifying it! And so will having too many helpers.
First of all, too many decision makers will simply add more opinions, perhaps of a more personal nature than really required, and that reduces your overall focus. We had projects in the past where everyone on the client team wanted to go in a different and opposite direction. As that client found out, that was a really bad way to bring their B2B web design project to a successful conclusion.
And by having too many team members you can actually complicate your project instead of making it run smoother. The first problem is losing oversight over who does what. What started out fairly simple can quickly turn into a “I thought it was her/his responsibility. If clients don’t keep an eye on that their B2B web design project can easily run late. Plus having too many contributors can lead to different content and design styles, which is not a good thing.
Designate a Leader or Leaders
We agree that having more than one person on your team can simplify your B2B web design project. But it will be up to you to ensure your team all pulls in the same direction. Here at the highly caffeinated agency we recommend that you designate two people to lead your project effort. One person will be the actual project manager at the client end. That person is the go-between between the client team and the web design team.
You should also designate a person who will provide final approval. Usually that is the business owner, or a member of the senior management team. In smaller companies the project manager and the final decision maker may be the same person. For larger companies we recommend having both. The project manager can take care of the day-to-day details of your B2B web design project. That way the boss can focus on actually running the business instead of their website project.
Not Having a Project Manager on Your Team
When we work on a B2B web design project there can be a lot of people on our team. And since we are spread over three continents, 5 countries, and 9 locations project management is a big part of any successful project. Depending on your project there may be several teams, and several project managers involved. That way we always know where things are, and what happens next.
Unfortunately, many of our clients don’t follow the same process. There is a common and mistaken belief that project management is solely the responsibility of your web design agency. Yes, your service provider should be responsible for managing the part of the project they are responsible for. It is also the responsibility of the client to manage their end of the project.
Yes, we know that everyone at the client end is very busy with his or her day-to-day responsibilities. We see how busy our clients are every time one of us meets with them. There have been times when we felt obligated to help out by answering phones or assisting a customer! Must be all that caffeine! As a result, a web design project is usually added to an already busy schedule. Not surprisingly this is exactly how your B2B web design project can go sideways.
Assign Your Project Manager
The best way to avoid any delays is to assign a dedicated project manager with decision-making power to your B2B web design project, preferably at the very onset. Your project manager should be allocated resources and responsibilities to provide them with all the time and tools they need to do their job. Maybe that includes shifting some of their regular responsibilities to someone else for the time being.
Having a dedicated project manager ensures that there is one person keeping an eye on the project at your end instead of several people working without guidance or oversight. Your project manager has the ability to keep your project on track by getting timely feedback, gathering resources needed for the design agency, and making decisions to keep the project moving along.
Underestimating the Scope of Work
The next reason B2B web design projects usually end up running late is that the client is underestimating the scope of work. We notice this especially when clients want to provide their own content. Writing SEO optimized content is a lot harder than it seems, and that can come as a big surprise to many of our clients. And not only writing content is a challenge; many clients struggle with visual content such as images, infographics, video, etc. as well.
To keep your B2B web design project on track we recommend that you carefully consider what all you want to provide yourself, and how much time you think it will take. This next step is critical! Take the amount of time you just estimated, and TRIPLE IT! Now you have a much more accurate idea how much effort this will take, and if you can realistically handle that.
Some professional web design agencies offer additional services, including content strategy and content creation. If you don’t have the time or skills to handle that part internally you should consider adding it to your project scope. Most agencies would rather write your content for you than watching your B2B web design project slip further and further behind while you struggle with this yourself.
Not Providing Required Content
You know the old question: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” There is an equivalent in the web design world: “What comes first, content or design?” The answer is a bit of both. In order to create an effective design creative like us need to know what we need to design for! So, without content there is only so far we can go. And the entire B2B web design project pretty much follows that premise.
Creating and building an effective business website is in many ways like working on a puzzle. For instance, your B2b web design project can’t be finished without all the required pieces. At a minimum those include necessary images or content (think white papers, team bios or facts & figures) to include on your new site. More complex sites may have a lot more elements, which means clients may need more time to assemble all the pieces.
Most professional web design agencies work with clients to establish a project timeline. To be effective this should include deadlines for submitting client-provided content. It is absolutely essential for keeping your B2B web design project on schedule that all input for design and copy, as well as any supporting files and other materials, are provided by the deadlines outlined in the schedule.
Missing deadlines means that other parts of the project will also be delayed. Your web design agency will try to keep your project moving forward as long as possible, but there is only so much they can do without your help and input. Simply moving on to a different part of your B2B web design project while they wait for your deliverables may not be an option.
No Timely Communication
This is one of the most common reasons B2B web design projects are delayed. Many times, one stage of your B2B web design project has to be completed before moving on to the next stage. Most B2B web design projects focus on the big picture first and drill down to the details after that. If the client does not communicate feedback for an initial design concept there is not much a web designer can do to keep moving the project forward.
Therefore, it is essential that both the web design agency and the client provide timely feedback and communicate regularly. To make this as easy as possible we recommend that you establish some communication and feedback guidelines at or near the beginning of your project. That should include how often you will communicate, and how you will communicate. This will establish some expectations that will help keep your B2B web design project on track.
Here is something else to keep in mind. Not answering an email on the same day, or missing a phone call, is usually not a big deal. But if this becomes a communication pattern and keeps happening it can push your B2B web design projects back by weeks, and even months.
Scope Creep During the Project
Most B2B web design projects start by defining the scope of the project. Here at the highly caffeinated agency we start with a few simple questions we ask our clients, and based on their feedback we develop a scope of work for the project. Usually that includes things like the actual design and development of the site, some content creation or editing, and some initial on-page and on-site SEO. In a way the project scope becomes our road map for your project.
More Shiny Objects
Where things start going sideways is when other shiny objects along the way distract the client. Many times, clients see something on a competitor’s website and immediately want to add that as well. Not a problem if this is something simple and straightforward. But sometimes what seems really simple to an uninitiated client is actually a very complex undertaking. Custom contact forms, interactive image galleries, and custom e-commerce configurations can definitely be added to your project. You just have to wait a little longer and pay a little more.
We Forgot to Include This …
Another common way to introduce project scope creep in your B2B web design project is during the content creation phase. Content creation takes time, and it needs to happen at or near the start of your project. Most clients know they need content at least for their key pages, services and products. But frequently they come back with requests to create additional content like FAQs, shipping and return policies, and even white papers and case studies!
If you are not sure how much and what kind of content, you will need for your B2B web design project simply ask your service provider. As experts they will already know all the aspects you need to consider. Keep in mind that content creation takes time. If you don’t include this from the onset of your project you will keep your web designer waiting for content later during your project. And that means your B2B web design project will be even further behind.
Changing Directions During the Project
The most effective way to handle your B2B web design project is to establish a plan and follow through with it. By developing a project roadmap and having everyone follow it you pretty much eliminate the chance of potential delays and other obstacles. Of course, in reality it doesn’t always work out like that. To keep your B2B web design project running smoothly from beginning to end we recommend you anticipate a change or two during the project.
Bringing in a New Team Member
A common scenario occurs when a new person joins the client’s website project team. They may or may not understand the process so far or may not be on board with the objectives that have already been defined. This particular situation is unfortunately all too common. Even worse, it is usually very disruptive to any B2B web design project and can cause significant delays of weeks or even months.
Generally, we advise clients against adding new team members to their web design project once it has begun. However, if a new person is essential to the project, we recommend they get a complete project briefing on the direction, goals, and objectives that have already been established.
A Competitor Just Got a Better Site
Another common scenario is when one of your key competitors just got a new online presence. You were hoping to launch yours first, and now they beat you to it. And not only that, but they have a whole bunch of cool options and functionality. Of course, you will want to add those to your project as well, right? Not so fast!
While nimble development tactics can benefit your B2B web design project overall, they are not always an option. As mentioned above some changes can be incorporated in your existing project. But those are mainly confined to things like increasing the font size or changing your primary colors. Other things are far less straightforward. In one case we had a client ask us to change the development platform halfway through the project!
Before you change directions halfway through your project answer these questions:
- What exactly is involved making that change?
- Is the intended change worth the extra time and money it will require?
- What is the realistic outcome if you do NOT make that change?
Honest answers to these questions will help you keep your B2B web design project on track, on time, and on budget!
The last item on our list of things that can derail your B2B web design project is not having a sufficient or realistic budget. Most likely your web design partner worked with you to develop an acceptable project budget. Here at the highly caffeinated agency we go the extra step and make our clients aware of any potential cost overruns or unexpected expenses.
Usually these arise when things get added to the scope of the project, such as extra content creation or editing. Other times there may be unexpected obstacles to overcome, such as realizing your web host is not compatible with your new site. While this type of thing is not part of every B2B web design project it is not a bad idea to plan ahead.
Therefore, we recommend that you add somewhere between 10-20% to your total B2B web design budget. If the unexpected does come up, you are all set. And if everything goes according to plan you have some extra funds to celebrate the launch of your new site, invest in a website maintenance plan, or allocate resources to ongoing content and search marketing campaigns.
Keeping Your B2B Web Design Project on Track
Many companies underestimate the time it takes to build a website, so it’s important to be realistic about the impact it will have on your schedules and workload. Yes, your web design agency will do the heavy lifting, but your input and contributions are essential to creating a high-quality B2B website that makes your brand stand out among the competition. Here are a few things you can do to help keep your B2B web design project on track.
The more you plan ahead the better your B2B web design project will end. Be sure to get feedback from all stakeholders, and look at sites from your competitors, and even other industries. This will give you a better idea regarding what you actually want to achieve.
Evaluate Your Existing Site
Take a good look at your existing website. Most likely your old website is not a throwaway. You may want to repurpose existing content and images for your new site. Other content such as testimonials can be used as is.
Start Collecting the Pieces
Once you know what you want to keep from your existing site start collecting and assembling it in one place! Start right away; this part will take much longer than many clients believe. If you use cloud sharing you can create a Dropbox or GitHub directory for your project and share that with your web design firm.
Use Project Management Tools
Consider Your Scheduling
Scheduling your B2B web design project is a key part of keeping it on track. A B2B website redesign usually takes between 6 – 12 weeks. During this time frame you will need to have enough bandwidth to focus on your project, and your other responsibilities. Scheduling it during your busiest time of the year, or when most of your team is on vacation, is a great way to ensure your project will run late.
Onboard Your Web Design Team ASAP
Most companies redesign their websites once every three to five years. Most web design agencies redesign websites every day. If you want your B2B web design project run as smooth as possible we recommend that you select and hire your web design partner as soon as possible. If you are not sure where to start here are some thoughts on finding your ideal web design partner.
By bringing your web design team into the project early you can benefit from their experience to help you plan your B2B web design project. Which is why you are not doing this all on your own in the first place, isn’t it?
Still Have Questions About B2B Web Design?
Hopefully these steps will help you keep your next B2B web design project on track, on time, and on budget. If you need additional help or have any questions why not book a consultation with the experts at PixoLabo and let us help you plan your B2B web design project.
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of B2B web design and related services, starting with multilingual WordPress web design and ranging from e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization and WordPress website hosting and maintenance to brand development and information design.
Feel free reach out to us and learn more about how our experts can help you improve your B2B website. Our team can help you determine any shortcomings and obstacles on your existing website. All you have to do is reach out to us. The highly caffeinated team is here to help!
How Did Your B2B Web Design Project Go?
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