Website Under Construction...
Nearly 10 years in, business is booming but no thanks to our old website.
Credit to Yell, who with the basic package for which I’d paid, did what they could (using a standard inflexible template) but it was far from the shiny refined site you’d expect from a company where design is their passion. Yell did offer a more bespoke service but small business, tight funds etc. I chose not to take them up on it.
Because we’re so busy and (without wanting to tempt fate) seem to get a consistent stream of new enquiries and I was so busy focussing on the work and our clients - I whole heartedly neglected our website and didn’t get around to refining it and updating it with our more exciting projects.
So, we’re getting more and more work and the website is not looking great and not reflecting the work we do; really I should have seen the problem coming.
When it comes to new business, the network of happy clients is (apparently!) sufficient, even if your website is looking a little tired (it still isn’t but I’l also get onto that). When it comes to recruiting to enable you to resource that work however - problem. Because there isn’t an established recruiting network of existing or old staff telling prospective staff how great Artichoke is to work for, the only real point of reference (other than googling Chris Dale & Artichoke and finding a few tit-bits on Facebook & LinkedIn) is the website. Needless to say, if you’re trying to attract enthusiastic people with an eye for detail and passion for design to join the team and the website is none of those things (you can see why I could have seen it coming), the website was none of those things so the assumption is that potential candidates would look at job adds, look at a selection of websites and base their initial contact on the one that ins;ired them the most. This would probably not have been ours…
I have now spent virtually 2 weeks solidly not working on projects but out taking photographs of completed projects and working with Simon Clay of www.sly-design.co.uk who is fabulous web designer/builder (I met poolside in Greece!). Simon not only jumped onto my project in record time but produced a beautiful, simple website for us. And, although I didn’t know the term for it at the time (I just knew I wanted a simple way to add or change content), he included a CMS (content management system) which is almost as easy to use as an average word processing package. Login, paste text/photos, press save - voila - website updated. If you haven’t tried it - you should!
Following my foray into website matter, to try and help make this (my first!) blog more useful than just indulgent, I did some research on why I should have updated my website and found a very useful site (https://www.websolutions.com/blog/8-signs-your-website-needs-a-redesign/) which (surprise, surprise) more or less covers what my thought process ended up being (and should have been much sooner!).
The reason the website was letting me down regardless of recruiting troubles is of course that although we have a steady flow of clients, there is every chance that prospective clients with Grand Designs ambitions may have been clients had it not been for the poor website. Again, common sense?
There is a lot of advice, tutorials, training courses help etc about time management etc and that is without a doubt the reason the website was put off until it became critical. It’s actually easy to squeeze in a few hours a month working on the business but it always seems less important and less pressing than the project work you’re doing. I suspect though it is what makes the difference between a beautiful finely polished and greased machine and a rattly, rusty old jalopy. That’s probably a topic for another blog (/thesis/PHD!).
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and of course found it useful.
If I can squeeze in the ‘on the business’ hours I’m sure there’s be another blog along within the next few weeks.