Taking our own medicine. What we’ve learned by rebuilding our own website

Building websites is what we do every day here at Quba and we have a team of 37 ridiculously talented individuals who keep the wheels in motion and get our projects over the line.

10 Dec 2015
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Helen Morgan

Building websites is what we do every day here at Quba and we have a 37 strong team of ridiculously talented individuals who keep the wheels in motion and get our projects over the line.

Back in April, we started discussing our own website. It wasn’t working for us anymore, and it represented the business we were when it went live in 2012, not necessarily the business we are now. We’ve moved on significantly - the team has grown, and the old site wasn’t showcasing the best of our abilities.

The shiny new site that you are reading this on is the culmination of months of hard work by the team. So what have we learned? As it happens, we’ve learned a heck of a lot about ourselves and the processes we use to deliver our clients' projects.

I’m sure anyone who works in an agency will be able to sympathise when I say that getting your own projects finished is a challenge and you may be all too familiar with this, but hopefully those of you who work client-side will be able to relate too!

So here are my learnings as someone who acted as a project manager and also a client:

Trust is key

This is something that I, in particular learned really early on. You have to put trust in your project team to get the job done and bring your vision to life. For us, this was our team of copywriters, designers and developers who were tasked with the unenviable task of stripping back the layers of content we had created on our old website and simplifying back to our core proposition.

We applied the principle of less is more.

For a client, it is paramount that the trust is with the agency from the get go. The agency has to know your business inside and out in order to do the very best job for you, and for you to be able to put your trust in them and hand over what is one of the most important parts of your business and be sure that they will deliver.

Too many cooks really do spoil the broth

When re-building your own website, it can be tempting to involve everyone. More opinions = better results, right?

Keeping the project team to a limited number of people will make your life easier. From a client’s perspective, having a Project Manager and Project Sponsor in-house is all you need. Internally, we tried to follow the same structure - with myself as Project Manager, our Business Development & Partnerships Manager, Jon, as Project Sponsor, and our MD, Matthew as our ‘client’.

The reality, of course, is that more people were involved internally leading to a difference in opinion at times and the subsequent struggles to make decisions. This is understandable as we are all extra passionate about our own website as you would expect. This is when the Project Manager has to come into their own and drive the project forwards in order to keep it on track, else you will inevitably go round in circles and come to no conclusion.

Just keep swimming!

This one’s easy. When the odds are stacked against you, and nothing’s going right, you just have to keep going.

Developers are clever b*ggers and marketing managers are too ambitious

If I had a pound for every time I asked our developer “Can we just make this do this?” “Can we make this appear at this point” “Is there any way we can do XYZ?”

The answer, was largely “yes”, but of course that meant I was changing the spec (another consequence of building your own website, and being your own client) and therefore delaying the project. This is when we get to phase two…

Phase two isn’t admitting defeat

If you can’t get everything you possibly want shoehorned into the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for launch, THAT’S OK!

We had a list as long as my arm of things we really wanted on the new website, but you have to be prepared to compromise and focus on what you ‘really, really’ need in order to go live on time and on budget. So we have a list of phase two items that we will filter onto this site over time.

If you’re in the last week of your project, and you’re not going to get everything absolutely finished then make a list of the tasks that are absolutely critical for go live (obvious bugs, content population etc.) and leave everything else alone. If it’s not perfect, THAT’S OK TOO.

Things change… all the time

As with most website projects, things have a tendency to change, usually with little to no warning.

There were things that were uncertainties right up until we went live, and some things that will still change (we’ve already decided to add another page to the site as soon as possible.) This is totally normal - the industry is changing ridiculously quickly and nothing stays still for long!

Now you’ve read more about how we built our own website, we’d love to talk to you about a project you’re planning. Feel free to drop us an email at hello@quba.co.uk or give us a ring on 0114 279 7779. If you’re close by, we could even stick the kettle on!

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