Home improvements

Sorry Dad!
I've just got home after a week's holiday in the British sunshine. During this time my wife and I have celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary which has gone pretty fast. On returning home, and seeing it with fresh eyes, it was even clearer to me that after all this years our house is in need of redecorating! It doesn't seem that long ago that I took on this mammoth task myself but the wear and tear of four children has taken its toll... The more I look the more I see evidence of missing wallpaper, chipped radiators and dented skirting boards.

So what's the best way to tackle the revamp? Rip down everything and start afresh or work on patching up what we have? Like any big project the temptation is to opt for the latter. The danger is that once it's all done the money is spent, other more pressing concerns get in the way and things start to fall into disrepair. Everything starts looking out of date and before long it's embarrassing to invite any visitors round!

The above is also true when undertaking any big design project like launching a new website. An old rotting website can cause visitors ending up with a bad impression and rarely returning causing damage to the brand. The cycle then repeats itself again at considerable effort and cost. The chief danger here is that for most of the website's life it is operating below peak efficiency.

Goodbye and good riddance
No website is 100% awful yet the most attractive option for a redesign is to bin everything and start again. That means a lot of useful (positive and negative) intelligence is wasted at a considerable cost. It's only once a site goes live that proper intelligence can be gathered on people's reactions (even with a decent amount of user research and testing). But the way in which these projects are planned means that this is the exact stage the money runs out.

The single worst thing that can be done is to migrate any content across. The equivalent of this is me using old bits of skirting board to make new ones. See it as the perfect opportunity to reduce the size of the site and write only what is needed. By listing the questions the user may have and prioritising them it ensures that no page is wasted.

During the build it's easy to try and glory in what has been learnt from the previous site. But by making so many changes all at once, and completely replacing it, how is it possible to be sure?

It's not quite this bad!
So it turns out I only have myself to blame for my house needed so much cosmetic work all at once! I should have been making incremental improvements all along and not just fixing things when they needed it.

By taking this approach to website management the site is always being optimised. It also helps spread the cost rather than having to find a massive lump sum for a complete revamp every five (or ten!) years. There's also no throwing out of good working elements just to recreate them. And of course at risk of sounding like a broken record it allows for "evidence based decisions" (I'm quoting my past self there!) and not wasting time and money building unnecessary features. This approach also helps get new features up and running before the competition and keeps users coming back to what's new on offer.

To get this model working there needs to be a decent set of in-house skills. A scaleable CMS means not relying on an agency to access the more advanced features. If the design isn't too wedded to the technology it's even better to allow adaption to any new developments.  This team needs to have skills which involve stakeholder management and content creation alongside the usual technical expertise.

Let's do this!
If the site is built in such a way that it has an excellent pattern library, reusing various components keeps it consistent and easy to update. This way, and just like in the case of redecorating, it ensures that this will be the last big expenditure. After one final big redecoration effort it's time to keep making those improvements and to make sure there is the team to do so.

I guess I'm literally the 'in-house' team when it comes to our home improvements. At least one of the many perks of working at Kier is I get a Trade Point card. How long does Google Maps say it is to the nearest B&Q?
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home

4 comments:

  1. Fun analogy Paul. I guess we need to keep a check list of what 'The neighbour's are doing to improve and see if we can 'piggy back' to align community

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Clare. I stretched the analogy a bit at the end! I always like to benchmark outside of the industry where possible to avoid any danger of being second best to our competitors

      Delete
  2. Some folk live in rented houses. Which is fine; nothing wrong with that. Except sometimes, the landlord comes round and, even though you know the house, live there and know what's needed decor wise, said landlord has seen something else somewhere else and has decided that's what you need in your house...

    Mad, eh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Andy. I remember my old landlord well. The problem was that his El Dorado was Coventry!

      Delete