7 common reasons why web design projects fail

Unfortunately people often spend considerable time and money on a web site that has failed. What do we mean by ‘failed’? It delivers nothing to their business, or maybe it was never even finished. They are unhappy, out of pocket and have wasted time. Ed Stivala gives his 7 tips on how to avoid web disasters.

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29th January 2009 at 11:35 am

Ed Stivala of web consultancy n3w media takes a few minutes to consolidate the typical reasons why web design projects fail. Of course sometimes it’s not just one of these but a cunning blend of several! Ring any bells… ?

1. The kid down the road built your website.

Well why not? After all everyone knows that children know more about all this technology than their parents! Apparently he had built a few other sites for people, seemed to know everything about it and was so cheap. Unfortunately what you ended up with was cheap in every respect. Whilst sonny might be great at computers he probably is not so clued up about business. How could he be, he hasn’t left school yet! So the site might look OK on day one, but actually it doesn’t support or grow your business. Then you need it changing, but he has gone off to University (media studies degree) or has met someone from the opposite (or same) sex – somehow your website just isn’t that important to him anymore… Now you have a problem and unraveling it will cost much more than just starting again. Shame you wasted all that time though.

2. You outsourced to an off shore company

Using highly qualified resources that happen to be in a different economy can create great financial advantage in a web development project. Absolutely no doubt about it! However, whilst you will be saving money, you will also be managing a resource in a different time zone (how do you feel about midnight conference calls?) and their first language is not the same as yours. So be very prepared to sharpen up your skills in project management. If you have experience gained from running many web or software development programs and have already created detailed specifications – you will probably be fine. After all we are! However chances are that the technical and creative skills are a small part of the service you need. Be prepared to waste a lot of time and endure a lot of stress. Then be prepared to start all over again.

3. You found some cheap web hosting, bought a template and built the thing yourself.

Look, how hard can this be for goodness sake! And after all you know more about your business than anyone else and you know what you want, right? Well that is true, the only flaw in the argument is that you probably do not have all (or any even) of the skills you need in order to translate ‘what you want’ into a working and effective website. In the same way that I have a copy of Microsoft Word and Excel but I am neither a financial wizard nor author, a bit more than you may appreciate goes into creating a website! Some people use DIY business cards and their very own, home produced, ‘logo’ – so the question is do you want to join them with your DIY website? If you have not invested in your business then it is hard for a prospect to see why they should.

5. You forced your designer to include an exciting Splash Page.

There was a point in time when splash pages were fashionable. They were not effective, but at least they were fashionable! Today they are still not effective and definitely not fashionable. There really is no good reason to have one and most people say that they find them a nuisance. The situation is worse if you have a flash website as the user sits and waits for the progress bar to reach 100% and then discovers that they are still not at the content – but now have to sit through another load sequence before they get to the start of the content.

6. People only visit one page on your site and not for many seconds.

To be frank they find your content boring and irrelevant to them. Except nobody ever tells you this! Too often we see content that has been produced purely from the web site owners perspective not their customers. Of course the complete lack of enquiries gives you a clue, so does the fact that you have seen no increase in business since the site went live. Too often the company you hire does not challenge you enough – after all you are the boss because you are paying the bill right? Well if the end product does not do the job you wanted it to do, they have really done you no favors.

7. You didn’t calculate the ROI model for the project

If you didn’t calculate this in advance and then build robust ways to measure financial performance, how do you know that the site is a complete failure? The only thing worse than owning a website that has failed, is not knowing…

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Ed founded n3w media in 2002 based on his experience gained over 20 years in IT consultancy and management. During his career Ed was head of technology at digital strategy agency Decipher and also consulted with organisations including Centrica, Whitbread and Music Choice. At n3w Ed is responsible for client and project management as well as direct consultancy projects. http://www.n3wmedia.com

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  1. Teenum says:

    A good web designer is a defacto business consultant. They understand the web environment and how businesses can use the Internet to grow and expand.

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