Samantha Davies, Group Head of Marketing, Haines Watts
Keeping up to date with website technology and design is key in today’s competitive marketplace. A website is your shop window, a key communication channel and an effective way of generating new business if designed and used in the correct way.
Haines Watts had undertaken a website redesign and build in 2011 and at this point had modernised the design, cut down the amount of content and simplified the navigation on the site. Haines Watts also designed a separate mobile site in 20111 and were the first UK top 20 firm of accountants to have a fully enabled mobile site. HW Technology built both of these sites.
However, with technology, you can’t afford to simply stand still. With website design having moved now to responsive designed websites and Google clearly beginning to favour these in mobile search results, there was a need to once again review the whole site.
We started to plan the new Haines Watts website around 6 months before we intended to go live with it. The reasons for undertaking the project were:
We wanted to update the site to be focused on our target audience of business owners. We aimed to lead on the new site with stories from our business owner clients talking about their challenges and how Haines Watts have helped them overcome them.
We needed the new site to be fully responsive in design to view on mobile and tablet as well as laptop and desktop. This also would enable us to not have to run a separate mobile website and would improve our Google rankings for mobile.
Up to date platform
Our previous site was built on a mixture of WordPress and bespoke CMS system. WordPress has now evolved and developed and can handle more complex website needs. Therefore, we wanted the whole of our new website to be built within WordPress to give us more flexibility in the future.
We felt it was important to have a more up to date design that reflected the modern and forward thinking accountancy firm that Haines Watts are.
Choosing the right suppliers
We currently work with two companies for our digital / online marketing – HW Technology and Realityhouse and have worked with both companies for a number of years. We decided to continue to work with both companies on this project – Realityhouse to design the site and HW Technology to build the site.
Using two suppliers may seem to many people to complicate the project, but we felt that using both companies for their strongest skill sets would be the best way forward and each company could sense check and support one another through the project. In my view this worked well and both companies worked excellently together.
Making the project a success
There are some key points to consider in order to make your website project a success:
a) Use a specialist digital agencies, who understand how digital design works and how this differs from hard copy designs. This is imperative, I have previously used general agencies to design for digital and they haven’t had the in depth knowledge of websites that I required. Web designers go into more depth than just the outline designs, they consider how things should overlay and how transitions should work.
b) Have clear project and timing plan. At the start of any website project a lot of work goes on in the background and there is very little to see at the front end. For a marketing person, it can feel like little progress is being made. HW Technology provided us with a clear plan of when key stages would be delivered, and regularly communicated where they were with the project.
c) Communicate regularly. At the beginning of the project we had fortnightly conference calls with HW Technology and Realityhouse to check progress against the plan and to ensure that any questions that arose during the build phase were being addressed. All of the team had access to the staging site, so could see progress in real time. Nearer the end of the build, we had weekly conference calls as the website build progressed and content from our current site was put in place.
d) Expect the unexpected. If your website is complex, expect some things to crop up that you hadn’t considered and allow time for them. Just changing the format of our site from single columns to two column format, meant we had to work through all our text to get column breaks in the right places and moving to landscape pictures only on blogs etc, also meant we had to go back and change pictures on past blogs.
e) Leave plenty of time for testing. With the complexity of multiple browsers to test in, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari and the addition of having to test designs on desktop, tablet and mobile – the testing phase can take a huge amount of time. We delayed our go live date to allow more time and ensure we tested thoroughly before we launched the site externally. The last thing you want when you launch a new website is to have visitors finding broken links, unformatted pages or out of date content.
Although a website project can be a large, complex and time consuming project to work on, if you manage it carefully the outcome will be worth the effort. Our site has only been live for a short period of time, so now we will spend time analysing the results and tweaking it make it even better. There’s no time to stand still!
To find out more, please call us on 0845 504 8989, or complete our contact form.