Since joining Avelient earlier this year, I was asked by quite a few people about the website. They wondered why it appeared outdated, and some were rather blatant in their dislike for the site’s design. My answer was always “Priorities, that’s why” - it’s that simple.
At the start of the year, hot off the acquisition of fresh talent, the company was busy cultivating relationships with clients eager to work with us. Our customers had some demanding needs and tough timelines that we needed to meet.
Thoughtful analysis leads to good priorities
We decided to focus on our customers first, and updating our marketing materials later. That decision naturally led us to build a portfolio of great products and services that we are continually optimizing and streamlining when we offer them to customers. It has resulted in a significant pay off for us, and Avelient’s client list has grown exponentially each quarter.
Now, this decision might not lead to the same result for everyone. Under normal circumstances, it might be a bad move for a web design company to have a bad website -- it might even kill your business. However, after reviewing how our sales leads were coming to us, we discovered that most did not reference our website; rather, people contacted our sales team directly, either through referrals, reputation or repeat work.
This decision gave us a great ability to focus on customers projects instead of focusing on lead generation through the website. For me, I’ve always been influenced by the great entrepreneurial minds of my time, and the advice of Guy Kawasaki seemed particularly appropriate:
When you’re starting a company, you often think, ‘My God, we could either finish the design today, or go order stationary’. It seems like they’re both about the same importance. It’s not true. A milestone is something that you would call up your spouse and say, ‘honey, today we shipped’. That’s very different than calling up your spouse and saying ‘honey, today we ordered the stationary’. It’s not quite the same. - Guy Kawasaki The Art of the Start
Stick To Your Priorities
As a designer, it’s difficult to ignore the criticism. However, as the company has grown and matured over the past few months, the entrepreneur in me has been increasingly happy to see that setting priorities and sticking to them is paying off.
A happy bonus: by establishing the priorities for the business in those early months, we established our mission statement and have built both our business and customer based around that statement: “We design & develop simple, beautiful websites using standards based methods - we deliver polished, professional, and affordable products that get you the attention you deserve”.
What can you say about your business at the end of 2010? "we got new business cards?" or "we closed more business than ever before"?