“We make BIG websites” has been Four Kitchens’ tagline for 14 years. You gotta admit: It’s really good. It’s simple, memorable, and confident. It instantly sets us apart.
But BIG website relaunches are not the future.
Relaunches Cost Time and Money You Don’t Have
Big launches, migrations, and redesigns began to dwindle around 2015. Upgrade fatigue made organizations less interested in major overhauls. Spending decisions shifted away from the technical superiority of a CMS and toward marketing ROI. Our clients wanted their budgets to last, so they shifted to ongoing improvements—evolutionary adjustments, not revolutionary change.
Then COVID-19 hit. In just three months, a long-term trend has become an immediate and permanent reality: The big relaunch is no more. Continuous website improvements, staff augmentation, and measurable results have taken its place.
Success without a Big Relaunch
Rethink, Don’t Relaunch
Have a dated looking website but can’t afford a full redesign? Start slow. Focus on the most visible or important parts, like the header and the homepage. Perhaps fold in a design system like Emulsify that lets you easily add layouts and change the look-and-feel of your site.
The CMS that powers your website is approaching end-of-life and you’re concerned about security. Long-term support might be an option. Progressively upgrading your site over time can help you manage costs. Or you can build a separate, leaner frontend for your CMS by decoupling.
Your website isn’t performing as well as you’d like. Traffic is down, bounce rate is high, and conversions are trailing off. Rather than embarking on a full discovery project, run a one-week Strategy or Design Sprint to generate and test ideas.
In today’s world, you can’t relaunch by default. Instead, the default should be finding clever, cost-effective ways to make do. When you are able to invest in a relaunch, you should build a flexible digital platform that can expand and change with your organization—one that you can maintain cheaply and reshape without tearing it down and starting from scratch.
Rethink how to drive digital change at your organization. You don’t always need a relaunch to deliver meaningful results.
Shift to a Continuous Improvement Mindset
You’re in a spending freeze. Big projects are on hold. Only business-critical expenses are allowed—and even those are being scrutinized. You need to improve what you already have with whatever resources are available to you. You need to shift to a continuous improvement mindset.
Here’s your Playbook for Continuous Improvement:
- Establish clear and achievable goals. Your team needs to know what’s most important right now, and your stakeholders’ visions need to be grounded in reality.
- Prioritize your improvements. Make a list of all pending issues and feature requests. Plot them on an effort-versus-impact graph. Address the low-effort, high-reward tasks first.
- Make incremental changes. Using whatever time or budget you have available, make progress and ship work. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember: Perfect is the enemy of done.
- Be open to experimentation. Not sure how to solve a problem? Do just enough research to make an educated guess, then measure what happens. If your metrics improve, keep going. If not, try something else.
- Share success stories with your stakeholders. As you demonstrate real, tangible results, you will build trust within your organization. Trust will reduce perceived risk and will lead to larger projects and investments.
Expand Your Capacity with Staff Augmentation
You’re in a hiring freeze. Maybe you downsized your team. Whatever the case, you don’t have enough people, and the work is piling up.
You can expand your capacity with staff augmentation. By contracting additional members of your team, you bypass hiring freezes, avoid adding headcount, and can quickly end engagements when projects finish or budgets are exhausted.
If you don’t have time to find independent contractors, look for agencies that provide “blended staffing” or “virtual teams.” Staff augmentation has been a core part of our business for more than a decade. For example, we’ve supplied virtual teams for NBC, Yale, the New York Public Library, and the City of Austin. We’ve even added staff to other agencies!
Find Partners, Not Vendors
Vendors sell corn dogs at the state fair. Partners help you create and implement your digital strategy.
You need to build a long-term relationship with a team that understands your organization. This takes time and trust—there are no shortcuts here. No bottom-dollar offshore teams or cousins who are good with computers.
A true digital partner will learn what you’re trying to achieve, prioritize the changes that make the most impact, monitor the results, and adjust course. Most importantly, a digital partner will be an excellent steward of your budget, ensuring you get the most from your limited resources.
How We Can Help You Navigate the Uncertain Future
While you’d love to relaunch your site, you probably can’t afford to right now. You need to do more with less, scale your team without hiring, and make your budget last. You need to be agile. You need a partner to navigate an uncertain future.
We can help you. Here’s how:
- We are your long-term, strategic digital partner.
- We focus on results, not software. Websites, apps, marketing automation platforms—these aren’t the deliverables. These are merely tools to reach your goals.
- We guarantee your budget will last by helping you plan your fiscal year and prioritizing high-impact, low-cost improvements.
- We can be your virtual web team, or we can multiply your existing team’s bandwidth.
We’re Four Kitchens. We deliver BIG results.
Let’s Get Scrappy!
- Want to know what other organizations are doing to stay afloat during the pandemic? Subscribe to Making Do in Hard Times, our livestream about doing more with less.
- Still using Drupal 7? Worried about end-of-life? Here’s what we think about upgrading to Drupal 9.
- In the meantime, here’s how to make Drupal 7 development fun.
- Learn why your organization should prioritize a design system, and how a design system can streamline your digital development.
- Do you work for a university? Check out our best practices for higher education emergency response websites and alternatives to an in-person campus tour.