In one of our older articles, I discussed why traditional web design is dead, but four years later I still get asked daily about what this means. Obviously from the title of that article, you can tell how I feel, but there are some exceptions. In this article I want to go deeper into the differences, and help you determine which is the right solution for you.
In today’s digital world, your website is usually the first interaction consumers have with your business. If it isn’t your website directly, it’s probably your digital presence in some form or fashion. That said, I’m not here to educate you on why you need a website or website redesign, I want to help you choice the right path. First define the two different paths you can take.
The Differences Between Website Service & Project Based Web Design
A managed website service is also known as “Managed Websites” or “TurnKey Websites” but at Spade Design, we call them Lead Generation Websites. These types of websites refer to a cost-effective, flexible approach to web design and website marketing that is characterized by iterative releases, quality content and continuous improvement. This means your website is always up to date, secured, and working effectively. This is important because in todays modern world, internet marketing, web design, viewing methods, and the technology involved with all this stuff changes very fast. Literally, they change day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. If your website hasn’t been updated in a week, you’re likely losing business. Therefore, in most situations, it’s to your advantage to have someone that is always updating it.
Now, that doesn’t mean its the only option. There are some applications where a project-based web services model makes more sense (e.g. non-essential websites, landing page design, short-term campaigns, etc.). Also, some companies actually have a marketing department, and sometimes in that marketing department they have a web designer. This is usually the situation where the topic of project based web design comes up.
You can define project-based web services as the traditional, linear method of producing a website or digital marketing campaign. It’s something that usually takes a lot longer due to its nature. The entire project must be planned out from beginning to end, there are milestones and stages, and it is very rigid and structured. It often takes 4-12 weeks to complete and for very large projects it may take 3-8 months. At the end, the new website is installed, launched, and live. The project now comes to an end. The company now has their shiny new toy, and must do updates themselves or enter into a new agreement for maintenance and support. This is usually charged at an hourly rate and can be a frustrating experience for both sides.
I’m a visual learner so to help explain the differences better, I’ve designed a couple of charts that compare managed website service with its predecessor, traditional project-based web design:
Chart 1: Managed Web vs. Project-Based Web Services: Feature Comparison Table
The primary difference between these two is the project management style. The cyclical nature of managed web services means that your website may start simple (sometimes in the form of a “launch-pad” website) but will continually grow and evolve to keep up with how prospects, customers, and competitors, interact and adapt to your business.
In contrast, project-based web services has a clearly defined beginning and end, with maintenance or security (known as Web Care Plans or Continuous Maintenance Plans) being handled as a separate service.
Chart 2: Managed Web vs. Project-Based Web Services by Process
I typically believe that a managed web approach is more cost effective and yields better results in the long run. Here are just a few of the reasons why:
1. Partner with a web marketing team for nickels on the dollar
Running a complicated website or web marketing campaign requires a wide range of expertise. Small to medium size businesses rarely have the resources to add a full time marketing director, content marketing expert, SEO specialist, ad buyer, web developer, conversion specialist, social media marketer, copywriters, and high quality graphic designer.
Partnering with a managed web service provider lets you have access to all of this expertise when you need it and as much or as little as you need it. As an example, Spade Design charges a low monthly fee and gives you access to all of these experts and extra benefits like unlimited graphic design requests.
2. Streamlined operations a single, adaptive long-term vision
A managed services provider can work with you to align your web marketing strategy with your goals. With each phase of a project, incremental planning keeps your new content and features focused, building a marketing campaign that gets results.
3. Get new features and content on the web faster
Managed services means you can respond to sudden market opportunities and take new features or content online when you need to. A system of rapid small releases makes it easy for good ideas to get into the pipeline for development faster without delaying the release of content or features already scheduled for deployment.
4. Enjoy an enterprise-level web platform without having to know how to maintain one
Managed web services let you remove complexity from your life so you can focus on growing your business and leave the tech to the experts. Managed web hosting typically covers the entire spectrum of web technologies you need for web marketing: managed WordPress hosting, automated backups and updates, SEO, performance optimization, email marketing, social media management, ad management, etc.
5. Monitor feedback and make data-based decisions
Managed web service providers don’t just deploy your content, they also monitor it using analytics and collect user feedback. This enables you to make data-based decisions to adjust your web marketing strategy and position your content where it can best engage your target audience.
One example of how we help our clients engage with data is through custom dashboards that brings live data and analytics from multiple platforms into a single display. We lean on these dashboards in a rhythm of regular meetings to make sure that our strategies and planning reflects the needs and usages patterns of users.
How Does a Lead Generation Website Work as a Managed Website Service?
One of the biggest advantages to iterative, managed web development is that you can use your new website features as soon as they’re ready, instead of waiting for every feature to be complete. Let’s look at how an iterative process works.
Managed web services refers to a cost-effective, flexible approach to web marketing characterized by iterative releases, quality content and efficient communications.
Our Managed Website Process
Each service provider is going to have some differences in their process. At Spade Design, we begin with our core process of strategy, design, and then we make the launch pad website live. This gets us through the initial launch of the new website.
Much like traditional website design, Growth-Driven Web Design is all about understanding your audience and how you can solve their problems. During the strategy phase you set performance goals, develop persona profiles, chart customer journeys and leverage your existing site’s analytics and user research. In doing so, the guesswork is removed from the equation—establishing in its place a strong understanding of your business goals and website users.
Launch Pad Phase
Upon completion of the Strategy Phase, the next phase of development is the Launch Pad website. The Launch Pad is a fully functioning website that looks and performs better than what you have today, but it is not a final product. The Launch Pad is where all the essential components necessary to help your visitors understand your business and activate them to seek more information is determined and developed. Once the Launch Pad site is live, it can be used to immediately collect user data so that you begin to identify high-impact website improvements that through continuous improvement, will help spark business growth.
The last stage of the Lead Generation Website Design Process, and the topic of this blog, is Continuous Improvement.
Once the website is live, we can actually see how people use it, and how it performs. We then break the continuous improvement cycle into into phases, each with four distinct increments: measure, plan, create, release. Depending on the features, a phase may last only a couple of days or several weeks.
The end of each phase concludes with a release of a fully-functional, live product. A release may be something as simple as a blog post with a distribution content marketing plan, or something as complex as a new eCommerce store on your website.
The release cycle is illustrated in the chart below. It begins with measurement (feedback and monitoring) of the previous release.
The Continuous Improvement Cycle
Continuous website improvement is the process of constantly updating and improving your website through incremental changes that are based on site analytics, performance metrics and user research and feedback. Taking a continuous improvement approach allows you to improve and reap the benefits of new features quickly, as opposed to traditional website design, where you may not see results for months, or even years.
At this point, we have launched the new site, and we have real users interacting with it. Their behavioral data will tell you what they think is important and help guide you to make impactful continuous improvements.
Already have an existing website? No problem, you may be able to use your existing website as your LaunchPad and jump right to continuous improvement.
The Methodology of Lead Generation Websites and Continuous Improvement Web Design
When Spade Design entered the market in Texas, we had a very specific mission on what we wanted to do. We go into detail about this in our about page but simply put, we wanted to offer a way for business owners to build a future while living healthy, successful, fulfilled and focused lives. We do this by creating marketing solutions that save business owners time, money, and give them peace of mind to focus on what their business and family. We decided to do this by removing the issues that existed with current web design and marketing and taking a zen like approach. I’ll break down these methodologies below:
Kaizen is a Sino-Japanese word that means ‘change for the better’ or ‘improvement’. The history of the term dates back to post World War II when Toyota introduced ‘quality circles’ to their production process; they were designated team members who came together to identify internal problems and implement solutions. With “all hands on deck,” they introduced “small improvements” to help streamline business practices.
Today, Kaizen embodies the concept of “continuous improvement” and is globally recognized as a core principle of a competitive business strategy.
Another business strategy born from kaizen is the agile methodology. Applied to inbound marketing, agile marketing is a holistic and strategic approach to marketing. Agile agency teams merge their efforts to prioritize high impact projects and collaborate to complete these tasks quickly and efficiently. The team measures their progress throughout the duration of the project and uses that data to incrementally improve future results.
Growth-Driven Design Methodology
Agile has significantly improved the efficiency of the website design process. Over the past 10-20 years, a movement called Growth Driven Design, or GDD, has taken the web design industry by storm. The goal of GDD is to reduce the common risks of a traditional design process in the following ways:
- The design strategy focuses on the user experience.
- Users of the live website are the center of all design decisions.
- Launching a new, testable product takes less time than with a traditional redesign.
- The new site goes through iterative changes over time.
- Real user data is the impetus for future design changes.
The Continuous Improvement Cycle
Whether you’ve had a new website built or are moving forward with your existing model, there are two things you can expect from the Growth-Driven Design process:
- a user-centered strategy and
- a continuous improvement plan.
By the end of the strategy phase, you will understand the customers you are trying to reach and know how to solve their problems. You will also collaborate with the creative team and develop a long, thoughtful list of the most valuable elements you’d like to incorporate into your new website environment. In the world of GDD, this is known as a “wishlist,” a key tool your team will use to prioritize their efforts. Compared to a traditional web design project, continuous improvement provides better results for several reasons:
- Quicker launch for new websites
- Site changes/updates are based off real data from your users, allowing you to make more informed decisions
- Allows more flexibility for A/B testing
- Extends the lifecycle of your website because you are constantly making improvements
Understand This For Marketing Success
Your Website and Digital Marketing is Never “Done”
It’s important to keep in mind that things change and they change very quickly. In business and especially technology and digital marketing, they change day-to day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. From design elements, to Google’s latest SEO algorithms, to changes in how users want to interact with websites, the digital industry is always evolving. In addition, your competitors are trying to beat you, in every aspect- including lead generation and search engine rankings.
All businesses are constantly trying to improve their model, so why would your website or digital marketing be any different? That’s the beauty of our methodology; everyone is working toward a common goal. As John C. Maxwell once said, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business, schedule a consultation and let us know about your challenges.