How We Avoided The Pitfalls Of Creating A New Website By Building It Ourselves
I’ve worked on quite a few website development projects over the years. Some have been straight forward and simple to manage, while others have been the stuff of nightmares!
Problems generally occur when there’s a discrepancy between what the company sees as the project scope and the interpretation by the development agency. This situation, more often than not, leads to a prolonged development period and increased cost.
At Really Simple Systems, the known pitfalls were not aiding my business case for the project. I felt strongly that we needed to rebrand and create a new site with two main objectives:
The old site design was not consistent with our position in the CRM market. Despite being a fraction of the size of some of our more illustrious competitors, Really Simple Systems is recognised as one of the top CRM vendors in the international small businesses market with our easy to use CRM solution. The website did not represent this and was limiting our appeal.
At the same time, technology updates had made the site difficult to manage and was woefully inadequate for mobile use.
When discussing the situation with one of our software developers the idea come about that we might build a new site ourselves and limit the risks involved when using an external agency. Providing we could justify using one of our own developers to build the new site, we just needed the help of a web design agency. The rest of the work could be done by our marketing team.
Search For A Web Designer
Having planned the project and mapped out the site pages, the next stage was, therefore, to find a suitable designer who would deliver the design element at a suitable price. We researched quite a few design agencies and eventually hit on Fhoke. We liked the look of their work and when we met with them there was an immediate connection. Although a small agency, the business fit felt right and they already had a number of international clients that gave us faith in their ability to deliver.
However, the first draft of their design came as quite a surprise. It looked great but was not what we were expecting at all! Once we’d got our heads round the concept, we realised there was no going back. We loved the design and could see how it would work for us. It cleverly uses the pre-existing brand assets to create two mascots that are used throughout the site to illustrate the relationship of the CRM system and its small business customer base. We’ve affectionately named them Pie and Wedge, adding a fun element to the pretty dry subject of CRM software, and giving our brand a unique persona.
The detail of the design elements also gave us new ideas of how we might make tweaks to our CRM user interface (UI) and across the rest of our marketing materials.
With the design sorted we then set about building the new site and adding the content. The new design meant most of the pages needed to be rewritten although we were able to copy over the bulk of the 200 plus blog articles.
Maintaining Our SEO Ranking
One for the main concerns in creating a new site was the potential for short term damage to our SEO ratings. We’ve worked hard in recent years to compete on the international stage, using SEO techniques rather than advertising, so were keen not to make a negative impact. This meant carefully planning out the pages in line with our SEO strategy and identifying the key search terms for each.
Working around our other commitments, the build and content phase took about eight weeks to complete with a further two weeks for testing and proofing reading.
CRM Website Rebrand Goes Live
Thankfully the go-live process went without a hitch, though we still held our breath before the first SEO report was available. Had the changes impacted on our domain authority and damaged our rating? Had we been as diligent as we thought we had and not created a tidal wave of crawl issues? Fortunately, the early signs look fantastic! The site visibility has already increased, and our SEO ranking is on the way up.
At the same time, we can instantly see an increase in activity with customers coming to the website. Our conversion rate to CRM trials has increased and new sales are looking positive. Feedback from our existing customers has been great too so it looks like we’ve met all objectives.
In the coming weeks we will be releasing the updated version of our CRM UI, taking the new branding right through the product, creating a contemporary and cohesive international brand.