Not So Fast, Buddy: Why the Website RFP Can Wait
Sep 8

Not So Fast, Buddy: Why the Website RFP Can Wait

After just three dates, really a total of 12 hours (awake), your friend decides to embark on a month long European vacation with the new found love of their life.

It was the stuff of books and movies – true romance. Your friend beamed that they were clearly meant to be together, saying they had the same interests, fulfilled each others needs – and they even got a bit tipsy and pushed things too far. So, a month in Europe would make sense, right? I mean, what could go wrong? This is surely a relationship built to last.

While you’d try to be happy for your friend, you’d likely tell them ‘you’re f’n crazy’, ‘too much, too soon’, or just plain ‘that’s a stupid idea’. You’re not alone. Most people would have the same reaction. Why? From a practical perspective – how many of us have a month free? Then to dedicate all those resources to someone you don’t really know (Europe ain’t cheap). You’re really putting the relationship to an unpassable test and into a pressure cooker, because if things go really wrong on day 4…it’s only 27 more days. Not to mention all that money.

So, here’s my question: If this idea seems so out-of-whack, why do companies hire a new digital agency to rebuild their website - on a tight timeline with significant resource allocation, no doubt - after just three meetings?

There's a fundamental flaw at the heart of the client/digital agency relationship that needs to be addressed. 

The Status Quo Development Model

An average web project runs something like this:

  1. Client identifies the need to redesign their website in someway
  2. Client issues an invitation to tender outlining what they want
  3. Agency responds to tender with a fixed price proposal
  4. Client agrees to proposal and commissions agency
  5. Agency builds the site and makes it live
  6. Client may make some limited adjustments to the site but basically, it just sits there until…
  7. Client identifies new requirement and then we return to step one.

This all sounds logical enough, but I think we can both agree there’s got to be a better way. Isn’t it time we moved away from the fixed price, single build to something that allows for a more collaborative partnership between web agency and client and doesn’t strain patience and budget at the outset of the relationship?

“Websites, like relationships, need time to evolve. The current approach and cycle of redesign is counterproductive and very expensive, especially upfront.”

Wouldn’t it make sense to stay engaged, spread the upfront costs over the course of the relationship and tweak the site continually so it remains fresh and is always improving? Let’s look at a few factors:

Price

Is this just another way for digital teams to squeeze more revenue out of clients? The reality is that, in the end, this is a much more economical approach to managing your website. Not to mention, the upfront cash flow benefits – the costs of the initial rebuild would be amortized over the course of the relationship. Remember, with the old model you were starting over every few years and throwing out what you had before. We're recommending a model that consistently builds on the previous investment you made, evolving the site rather than rebuilding it.

Technology

The current approach many companies take is really a legacy from the days when technology didn’t allow us to evolve a website over time. Making a global change to a site was a nightmare. Content, design, and functionality were all mixed up. These issues no longer exist, but the build process has remained the same. If technology now allows us the flexibility to evolve this relationship, shouldn't we?

Attitude

For a long time, the attitude was that you just put up a website and then walked away. Hopefully, we’ve all moved beyond that now and realize your website is the central manifestation of your brand and is more often than not the first impression your brand makes on someone. It needs to evolve as strategy evolves — and hopefully you’re not doing strategy every 5 years. The need for continuous evolution is necessary.

In-House Skills

Many companies have an in-house web design person or staff who are perceived as responsible for the evolution of the website. However, the reality is that this person or people are almost exclusively engaged in the day-to-day maintenance of the site rather than considering how the site should evolve in the future.

So:

If you’d like to get off the fixed price, single job model merry-go- round to something that allows for a better partnership between digital agency and client, you should start with a conversation with the team at Trumpet.

Matthew Worden

Insights junkie, songwriter, MBA, entrepreneur and native New Yorker who loves the Big Easy. Shreds in The Lexington Express.

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