Every day, we work closely with our clients, shepherding them through the ins and outs, the ups and downs (mostly ups!), and the overall journey that is required to create or rebuild their digital brands.
Our clients are investing a lot of time, and a not-insignificant financial investment, to do this work with us. They also have a seat at the table: our work is collaborative, and we need our clients to be present to provide insights into their organizations, as well as input and feedback along the way. This fosters a real sense of commitment and engagement, with our clients feeling like part of the team, and really invested in shared outcomes.
As a result, clients can sometimes have trouble allowing us to get to the finish line in the pursuit of make everything “perfect”. This can create a sense of fear or anxiety that they have this one chance, one opportunity, to get everything right. Details may be fretted over, or decisions that were made long ago may be rehashed. Maybe new ideas are surfaced near the end of the project that — while potentially great ideas — threaten to derail the project deadline and send us back to the drawing board.
When we’re rolling out a new experience to replace an outdated one, we look to get our work live as soon as possible. The sooner we can start launching improvements, the sooner our clients can begin to reap the rewards of our work. Once this new foundation is laid, we can then build upon it with more features, new ideas, and new designs that keep their brand fresh and relevant.
Your digital brand is a fluid, evolving entity, that can — and should — be revisited often to be refined, improved, expanded or reshaped.
We strive to show them that a new website is one step in a longer process, and that sometimes thinking in terms of “MVP” can help us move towards an achievable goal that brings them immediate ROI, and then map out what subsequent phases will look like to continue to build upon that success.
Funny enough, we found out it’s hard to follow that advice once we tried applying it to our own work.
We started work on our new website
twelve many months ago, with a clear sense of what we wanted to accomplish. We had long since outgrown our website, and had fallen into the “cobbler’s shoes” dilemma that many agencies fall into (“we’re so busy with our client work, we have no time to work on ourselves!”). It no longer represented who we were as an agency, and was no longer effective at generating quality leads for us. The time had come, and we finally kicked ourselves in the butt and got to work.
We followed our typical design process, opening it up to our entire team. We defined out our target audience, refined our messaging, and explored concepts that would best represent our brand. (Spoiler alert: it’s hard to work on your own brand!) We spent many weeks and months refining our ideas, revising concepts, and writing draft after draft of copy. All the while, juggling a robust queue of client projects and ongoing retainer work.
Despite making great progress in the early stages, we began to slow down as we progressed deeper into the design. We couldn’t quite find consensus on certain areas. We began to refine, and refine, and design ourselves into a corner, with no discernable end in sight. New ideas kept coming up that threatened to derail the path we were on. We started questioning certain informed decisions that we had already made, and the project grew stale. “What if we did this instead?” “Should we change this or that?” We were falling victim to the “make it perfect” trap, spinning our wheels and letting our pursuit of creating something amazing get in the way of creating something great.
Finally, we took a step back and saw the forest for the trees. We HAD a good concept. The messaging was there. What we needed to do was define an MVP, set a deadline, and crush it.
Once we let go of “perfection”, and the idea that we had to execute on every single idea we had, we were able to define what were the key items that are needed, how far does the design need to go in order to accomplish that, and — just like that — we had a manageable, achievable goal that we could work towards with confidence.
This seemingly obvious realization was our “aha” moment that took us out of “navel-gazing” mode, and into an action-oriented, goal-driven mode that pushed us to the finish line. We were able to push our new site live shortly thereafter, and now have an active queue of features, enhancements, and new content to add.
Is our site exactly what we wanted? Almost! As the creative director for ICS, I straddled the line as both designer and client for this project, and there are definitely some areas we had to shelve for later phases as they didn’t align with our defined MVP. But that’s OK! Knowing that we will continue to work on, and improve, our own site, gives me peace of mind that we’ll get there. We were able to reap the benefits of the new MVP website sooner by launching sooner, and now we have a roadmap ahead of us to tackle new features, content and improvements.
We’re on a journey of constantly evolving and improving our digital brand, revisited it as we go, making changes that constantly reflect who we are as our agency and brand evolve. Just like we do for our clients.