Should You Design Your Own Website In-House?
If your organization is in need of a new web presence, you might be tempted to give your internal design or marketing department a shot at creating it. After all, they’re familiar with your brand, and they already produce your social media content and print materials, so it may seem only natural to let them design your website. But unless your in-house staff have expertise delivering modern user-centric digital experiences, you should reconsider.
Even the most visually appealing designs may not pass the scrutiny of a development cycle without the need for revisions. And without the expertise necessary to determine the best strategy for your web project you may end up with a beautiful, ineffectual mess. Let a design agency help you create it instead.
Here are five reasons to contract an agency for your redesign:
These days, it takes a wide range of skill sets to deliver a quality web product. From UX research to interaction design to SEO considerations; it’s less and less likely that any single employee or small department will possess all the necessary insights to serve your project needs well. Hiring a full-service agency gives you access to a broader spectrum of skills and staff, all working towards your success.
Avoid Marketing Bias
Your new ad campaign is great, not to mention expensive. Wouldn’t the new site be the perfect place to show it off with big, glossy photos and video clips of the latest TV spots? Maybe a mascot? Just hold on a second. Is a brochure site truly what your customers need when they arrive at your site? Your project will be a flop if you don’t consider the needs of your target audience. There can be a dangerous disconnect between pushing your business goals forward on your site and developing the UX of your consumers. Marketers are excellent at creating deliverables for the former, but not necessarily trained in the latter. An agency will prioritize making your user experience better – and that, in turn, will grow your business.
I think everyone knows by now that responsive design is critical to the success of your business online. Google rates sites on being mobile-friendly, and device usage continues to outpace desktop browsing year after year. Still, the number of times I’ve been presented with carefully crafted desktop designs from clients with no consideration for how those designs will respond on a phone would surprise you.
Traditional web design still happens on wide screens. The ‘Mobile First’ initiative years ago sought to solve that, but today ‘mobile-first’ has evolved into a best-user-case approach where device type should inform the design and optimize the experience. Without understanding how the code behind the design will be built, designing responsively is a guessing game that can increase costs in development. An agency will have integrated design/development teams who will make sure your creative is built on a strong foundation.
Extensibility & Accessibility
One of the great benefits to working with a full-service agency is that they’ve probably handled every conceivable problem before and recognize where some pitfalls are and design to avoid them. Designers working in a static system might not consider questions like "how will that layout hold up if we add 2 new sections to the navigation? What happens to our layout when we translate our headings to German? Is that contrast level adequate for the visually impaired user? How many fonts can we use before we affect load time?" Make sure you have considered your strategic growth and user experience before you sign off on those visuals. If you don’t – you may be looking at costly revisions in development.
The great UX your project deserves should be an on-going commitment. Agencies are often looking to build long term client relationships and may offer support packages as well as their a la carte services. Depending on your needs you may find that the financial commitment to on-demand work from an agency is ultimately less than full-time support for an internal team. If you already have a marketing or design department in place that can handle the bandwidth of the initial design of a web property, also take into consideration how many resources your project will require as the site grows.
Get Expert Advice
So how will you know whether your business should find an agency or design in-house? Consider all the potential areas for improvements to your online services and ask yourself if you trust your in-house staff to deliver measurable quality improvements, and if their skillsets are up to the task. Either way, you may benefit from discussing your current and future web strategy with an agency rep to be confident you’ve covered all your bases.
Jason is the Creative Director and Senior UX Specialist at Falcon-Software Company, Inc. Falcon-Software is a full-service digital agency who specializes in B2B web solutions.