Building a successful and impactful web presence is more important than ever—especially for B2Bs and businesses with a complex product to sell or story to tell. Today, the “creative process” is more about solving the visitor’s problem than about whether the masthead should “pop” more.
So why do so many well-intentioned, brilliant web projects fall into Limbo?
As Creative Professional Scott Belsky points out—they hit the dreaded “Project Plateau.”
The Project Plateau
Whether you work with web teams, participate on a team or lead a team—I beg you to watch this short talk by Belsky. It may be the most inspiring ten minutes you have all week!
The painful reality that Belsky points out is that the majority of project teams suffer from the same affliction once they give birth to their brilliant, genius and life-changing ideas.
That affliction: the inability to follow through with the execution.
It’s not for lack of love, passion or talent. Executing brilliant ideas is excruciatingly hard.
Those who survive…the teams that MAKE brilliant ideas actually happen …are the true winners in the business and creative world.
Survival of the Disciplined
As Belsky states, a successful “Creative Process” is 1% Natural Creativity and 99% Acquired Discipline to make it happen.
So, where does your web project fall these days? Chances are you’ve seen the plateau, felt its sting and even run from it a few times by chasing new ideas, distractions or “creative” avenues.
Squash that Plateau With a Plan
So many web agencies talk about extensive planning, promise flawless project management and superior delivery and execution. Yet, before you can say “Gantt Chart,” the Designer is off creating pretty pictures, the Writer is writing War and Peace, the Project Manager becomes everyone’s enemy and no one—including the client—remembers who the heck the website is even talking to anymore. Everyone starts working in a vacuum.
As Erin Hardy, one of Well Planned Web’s lead writers, would say…
“When you work in a vacuum, everything sucks!”
What to Look For
You may think a solid web development firm is critical when building your new site. Of course!
But…first…step back. Waaaay back. Just because a development firm can make your website work or look nice, doesn’t mean they can make it make sense to your target audience. That’s where Content Strategy combined with thorough Website Planning comes into play. Even our “BFF” web dev partners agree with this when it comes to complex web planning. Making the investment in these steps will make it easier for the team to stay on the road and off the project plateau.
- Web Planning Methodology – This may sound like pretentious “consultant speak.” But, ask any prospective web planning firm to show you their approach. While you want to avoid those that simply “process” clients through a planning meat grinder, you also want make sure that their approach goes deeper than Microsoft Project and some fancy Excel spreadsheets. Read on.
- Audience Definition and Personas – This is more critical than it may sound. Everything…I mean ev-er-y-thing should be built around who’s visiting your site. This step can often take longer than expected, simply because you may need help defining your audience as it stands today. The B2B web researcher is savvier than ever. Are you ready to talk to them on their terms and in their language? Don’t even sniff at developing a website until this is in place.
- Content Strategy and Wire Frames – Notice how these are not separate items? It used to be that a copywriter would write a bunch of copy, a web developer would code a bunch of pages and a designer would glue the pieces together as best he could. That makes for one expensive, disjointed piece of online eye candy. Instead, ask your prospective web agency to show you examples of a recent Content Strategy combined with Wire Frames. They’re two sides of the same coin and they’re at the heart of any hearty web plan.
- Voice and Tone Definition – Think a writer will just come in and wave a magic wand to pull your vision together? Certainly, many writers can. But…to truly make the most of the best writing talent, you should arm them with as much detail about your corporate “personality” as you can. A solid web-planning team knows how to pull this together so your writers can hit the ground running!
- Content Marketing Planning – This one is easy. If the sales person simply rambles on about SEO and Social Media, be very careful. True content marketing plans go much deeper and should be tailored to your business, industry or vertical. Don’t get forced onto the buzzword bandwagon.
- Project Management AND Leadership – Read my lips… NO..I mean NOOOO web project goes off without a hitch. Yes, the planning above, as well as planned increments, milestones and tasks will ensure you’re not plateau-bound. But, no project is pain free. That’s where a leader who can operate beyond the Gantt Chart and trafficking of tasks is critical. Project players need to be inspired, encouraged, enlightened and even kicked in the pants along the way. A manager alone can make this ugly. A leader makes it fun and part of the “battle that bonds.”
Ready to plan your company’s new website? Want to make sure it’s on-target and sees the light of day? Give us a call and let us show you why Well Planned Web is more than just our name…it’s our mantra!