The deployment of our new web site, in and of itself, is probably of modest importance to readers of the ServInt Source. But it occurred to me that sharing details of why and how it was built might be useful, as the challenges we faced before and during the redesign are fairly common ones. So, following are some thoughts, observations, and rules of thumb that may be of use to you:
- When your customers tell you it’s time for a change, it’s definitely time for a change. Face it: the attractiveness and usefulness of your web site is way down the list of priorities for your customers — so when they take the time to tell you it looks out of date, or is hard to use, it’s probably a bigger problem than you think it is.
- Building a brand-new web site takes less work than propping up the old one. This one may seem hard to believe, since there is no doubt that the process of building a brand-new web site takes a lot of time and effort. But when you measure both the extra work your company has to undertake on a day-to-day basis to make up for your site’s lack of effectiveness and the big-picture process issues you can fix by implementing a new web site, the value proposition becomes crystal-clear. Bottom line: it’s worth it.
- Make your web site a mirror facing outwards, as well as inwards. It’s tempting to see your web site solely as a reflection of who you are, or perhaps who you wish you could be. It’s just as important for your web site to accurately reflect who your customers are. Your prospective and current customers need to feel like they’ve arrived at their online home when they arrive at your site — a place where they’re understood and appreciated. Our customer base skews very heavily towards “value purchasers” — people who don’t have time for marketing fluff. That’s why our site was designed with a visibly minimalist style. Our overarching goal was to provide an extremely efficient path towards the information our customers seek.
- Show, don’t tell. ServInt is fortunate to have a loyal customer base that is willing to tell the world how much they like us, and why. If your customers are similarly willing to compliment you in public — let them. A basic rule of thumb is: if your customers are willing to say nice things about you, there’s no need for you to say those things yourself!
- Pick a designer who understands you. As mentioned before, we had a clear mental image of what this site was supposed to look like before we started building it. We actively searched for designers who understood the minimalist aesthetic we were after, and why we were seeking it. When we found them, we were able to set them loose to do what they do best. This made things much easier than simply “buying talent” and arguing with them over The Vision Thing. When you and your designer clearly understand the brand strategy you have in mind, as well as the design style that’s going to get you there, you can step back and let them do their job.
We hope you like it!