The flexible and lean nature of digital start-ups that lends them the agility to pivot and do experiments has got less to do with how often can they revise or reconstruct their website. Why? Because it takes time for start-ups to build brand remembrance through websites that act as first customer touchpoint. Sharan Grandigae, Founder of Bengaluru-based user-experience design firm Redd, and former Adobe India executive, explains when start-ups should look for updating and revamping their websites.
When should a start-up update or reconstruct its website?
It is not really a time-based thing to do. When a startup’s product becomes successful, it needs to establish its brand presence through its website. Hence, their website becomes the sales person for them. This is the first time for a startup to update or redesign its website.
For instance, three years ago, people weren’t willing to buy furniture online. This was something that we had to fight as a perception among people that time. So, we had to design Urban Ladder’s website keeping that in mind. Second, redo your website typically once in three years to keep up with the trends in web designing. It is just like we see fashion getting updated in 12-18 months cycle.
In web design, the trend of a multi-page website was challenges around two-three years ago, with the idea of a single page website. Today most start-ups go with the latter. The third scenario when you want to update your website is when your product is your website. For instance, in eCommerce, the primary product offering is the website itself.
Why should a start-up rebuild a website instead updating it?
Updating a website occurs within the brand design, wherein you keep changing features - add new colors, fonts, and so on. But the rebuilding of a website has to happen more holistically. If you are doing something new and different on the website, the content can communicate some aspect of it, but the bigger impact happens when you rebuild or do the complete overhaul, which communicates to the user your intent and idea.
Would hiring an agency for it be better than having an in-house team?
It is always better to hire professionals who have worked on several projects instead of an in-house team working only for your product. If you want to stay current, you need a broader perspective and design agencies have a better idea of how to do that. While you can get a vendor for redesigning from Rs 3,000 per page onwards, for a complete rebuild it can cost anywhere between Rs three-six lakh and may take 6-12 weeks. Spending less money and expecting a great design is not the solution. I have seen customers not liking a particular product because it is badly designed. Start-ups must get over their “chalta hai” attitude with design.
Should start-ups involve customers as part of the exercise?
We prefer not to ask suggestions from the customer. We simple try to understand what problems they face and design the solutions accordingly. For that, you don’t need focus group test wherein you call people and ask their opinion. Your website’s usage data is enough to give you a clear idea of what the user wants, than asking him for opinions. This is just like a doctor who looks for symptoms for the disease and diagnoses according to it.
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (August 2016 Issue).