Have you seen seen Sue?
She's a 12-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex.
Excuse me, she was one – her skeleton is now on display at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.
Image via: http://www.trbimg.com/
What if we told you dinosaurs and Custom Web Design have something in common...
Yep, it's extinction. Much like our friend Sue, custom design is on its way out.
Quite frankly, we couldn't be happier.
The practice has historically been an inefficient use of agency time and a waste of client funds. Thanks to ever-emerging data on how humans interact with websites, we now know exactly which design choices work best (and why).
In this article, we'll discuss why companies surprisingly have MORE to gain from a LESS customized design approach.
But first, let's take a closer look at the differences between where we've been and where we're heading:
Stop Wasting Time With Custom Web Design
Custom Design is the process of making something COMPLETELY from scratch.
That means creating fresh wireframes, graphics, and code.
Since the process is exceedingly time-consuming (and unpredictable in effectiveness), some agencies are now moving toward a more efficient alternative: Best Practice Design.
Also called Growth Driven Design, the process promises greater cost-efficiency, earlier launch dates, hassle-free updates, and more measurable results.
Sound too good to be true?
Let's compare the differences between Custom and Best Practice Design:
The Lifecycle of Custom Design
- Pay a designer or agency $15K to $100K.
- Undergo a discovery process to uncover your brand's essence.
- Go through multiple rounds of revisions (despite the aforementioned discovery).
- Excitedly launch your site 6-12 months after the process began.
- Frustratingly realize the site isn't converting as you had hoped.
- Contemplate starting the entire process over again.
While there are executives who ARE happy with their finalized custom sites for 1-2 years post-delivery, there are just as many who wonder: Could our Website be doing more for us?
From our experience, the answer is usually YES.
The Lifecycle of Best Practice Design
- Pay a designer or agency $15K to $50K.
- Undergo a discovery process to analyze branding, target audience and SEO.
- Go through minimal revisions (after being presented with minimal choices).
- Excitedly launch your site 2-4 months after the process began.
- Enjoyably have team members tracking performance indicators on your behalf.
- Update design blocks "on the fly" as new data emerges (without paying more).
As you can see, it's an entirely different process; one that we believe is a WIN-WIN for both clients and agencies.
Let's discuss why that is:
Best Practice Design – Why Everyone Wins
If you want your site to be more than a branded boilerplate, consider putting function over form. That means using data, instead of unrealistic assumptions, to inform decisions of what should go where.
Web designers who are also marketers track the results of their designs. They know which features perform best and why.
Think of each web page as consisting of several blocks of space. The blocks can be filled with various elements to achieve a range of desired results.
For example, a home page might include blocks for testimonials, logo walls, a CTA (call-to-action) and a welcome message. A savvy agency will have data on which block arrangements perform best, and will use that knowledge to inform your starting design.
Why reinvent the wheel, when you know it works?
By beginning with a basic blueprint, everyone saves time, everyone saves money and everyone gets better results. It's at this point many companies voice a similar concern:
If we're borrowing the best design practices of others, won't we just blend into the crowd?
Wanting to appear unique in an increasingly competitive global marketplace is an understandable goal.
The only problem?
Appearances can be deceiving, and there are no guarantees for success.
There are arguably THREE ways to stand-out (in a world of stock photography and Google rankings):
2. Your company culture (which translates to service)
3. The offerings you create.
No matter how beautiful your Website appears, it won't do anything for you without the right message in place. A surprising number of businesses lose sight of a site's primary purpose:
You want a website that qualifies leads and converts them into paying customers.
The best way to accomplish the above is by writing compelling content AND designing pages according to best practices. So, does that mean your site will inevitably look like everyone else's site?!
Not at all; yours will initially be unique to you based upon your brand identity (i.e. logos, font, color, image and texture choices). It will incrementally become even more unique as you modify design elements based on feedback post-launch.
Bigger Impacts – Less Cash
With Best Practice Design, your initial budget can "stretch out" to accommodate updates in the months that follow.
A results-driven agency will analyze web page bounce rates, clickthroughs, and traffic sources to determine what's working and what's not.
Here are some examples of changes that could be made:
- A home page video is added after a company partners with a talented videographer.
- A low-conversion landing page offering is swapped out for a new one.
- An interactive "how it works" map is added to clarify services.
- Team member bios are redesigned in a creative, new way.
While a company could have theoretically started with most of the above elements, doing so likely would have added DOZENS of hours of revisions and THOUSANDS of dollars to the project. Hence, substantially delaying launch dates and raising budgets.
Get Results With Best Practice Design
A Best Practice approach allows companies the time they need to get SUPER clear on the elements they want, without having to sacrifice the lead generation benefits a smart website provides.
We hope you have enjoyed this article, and that it has opened your mind to possibilities beyond traditional design options. Had a less than satisfactory launch experience? OR maybe one that knocked your boots off?
We want to hear about it.
Tell us in the comments below.