Web Consulting Gets Big-Time Results: A Client’s True Story
For those who aren’t familiar with Website Blueprinting, you can read up on what it is here, learn why it’s so much better than a proposal, or check out a short but sweet blog post we wrote that explains why they’re so darn valuable.
Erin: Hi Rob, thanks for joining me as we once again have a conversation about one of our favorite topics here at Followbright – the Website Blueprint.
Rob: Hello there!
Erin: So Rob, we’ve talked about what a fantastic tool the Blueprint is (many times) in the past. Today, let’s get real. Let’s provide an example. Let’s share a real-life, recent example where a client engaged in a Website Blueprint project, what their experience was like, and what they gained.
To protect our client’s privacy, let’s call the client we’re talking about today Company AB.
Let’s dive in.
What was Company AB’s challenges and frustrations before they came to us?
Rob: One of the biggest challenges they faced is that they were reaching out to a number of design and development agencies and consistently getting these “boilerplate” proposals that didn't really address their specific needs. They were getting the sense (correctly) that many agencies simply spit out a million “e-commerce site” proposals based on cookie-cutter requirements, and that their goal is to push out as many of these proposals as quickly as possible in the hopes they'll get a few clients to bite. The reality, as our client saw, is that these agencies are generally playing a numbers game and not really taking the time to authentically connect with the client, understand their business needs, and develop a well-thought-out, custom and personalized solution for their needs.
As we've discussed in the past, there are many situations, especially for smaller and simpler sites, where the requirements are straightforward and a blueprint is not necessary. In this case, the client knew they needed more consulting and deep-dive discovery than what the other agencies they'd contacted were offering them.
Erin: Why did they decide to move forward with a blueprint instead of getting proposals from other companies?
Rob: They'd been frustrated already by the lack of care and customization that the other companies put into their scoping, discovery and proposal process, and from this they realized that it was actually too early to be asking for proposals. The first step in the process needed to be a Blueprint that would clarify all the project requirements, down to very specific details about functionality and software recommendations, so that they could go into the proposal process fully aware of what they were asking for and what they should expect from their design and development partner.
The great thing about doing a Blueprint with Followbright is that these documents are portable – which means you could, if you wanted to, take it to another agency and get a quote based on the Blueprint we've created for you. This means that you walk away from the Blueprint process with a final document that will be incredibly valuable for you no matter whom you work with for the full development project. In this case, everyone had a great experience and the client chose to continue design and development with us, but I know they were also comforted that they weren't beholden to working only with us, and that the Blueprint deliverable was intentionally portable to other developers.
Erin: What did Company AB experience while working with us on the Blueprint project?
Rob: Any time we work on a Blueprint, much of the work we do is uncovering what we don't know we don't know. In other words, our clients will often start out the process without a clear sense of what each feature or idea will require in terms of development resources, so we work with them to say, “This item is simple and high-value, and we should definitely include it,” and “This one seems small on the surface, but it will actually require a lot of work and add to the project budget, so we should carefully consider whether to build it now or wait until later.”
This really helps the client wrap their heads around the parts of the project that are big movers in terms of costs and timeline, and helps everyone get on the same page in terms of where resources will be allocated. When we talk budget and timeline, we also help them client prioritize their wish-list so we can deliver the most important items first, and save on schedule/budget by moving lower-priority or lower-value items down the road.
Additionally, one of the big benefits of the way we do the Blueprint discovery process is that it's all very conversational, and can almost feel casual at times, more like a brainstorming session than a formal meeting. We intentionally approach it this way so we can get as much complete, honest and direct feedback from the client as possible. This really helps pin down their needs and priorities, and allows everybody to open up and brainstorm in a very fluid way. We can then take those notes and ideas from the meetings and compile complete recommendations knowing that we've gotten to the core of what our client is looking for.
Erin: What were Company AB’s responsibilities during the Blueprint project?
Rob: In addition to participating in 4-6 hour-long consulting and brainstorming meetings, there are two phases where we assigned “homework” to the client. (These are in some ways specific to the client's needs, but act as a general framework for what you can expect from any Blueprint.)
First, we asked them for access to their current site and to compile a number of statistics and other information about the current site – this was essentially a very basic questionnaire to get the ball rolling and allow them to answer some easy questions before we got on a brainstorming call together. After our calls, we also often followed up with questions to clarify something we talked about or to dig deeper into a certain concept. With any Blueprint, we'll ask the client to set aside time to respond to these follow-up questions so that we can keep the process moving quickly and have as much information as possible when we start the creation of the Blueprint document itself.
Erin: What did they receive as a final deliverable?
Rob: The Blueprint document is delivered as a PDF (along with a phone call to walk through it and follow-ups via phone and e-mail), and in this case was an extremely detailed 39-page action plan for the design and development of their new site.
This allowed us to immediately move into the scoping process and provide a clear, fixed project fee for the design and development work, knowing that everyone was on exactly the same page about what the goals and requirements of the project would be.
Erin: Why was their project such a success for them, and how did their Blueprint solve their challenges?
Rob: This client had an existing e-commerce site that was having a lot of success, but had a number of major, obvious flaws in terms of both the design and the underlying software. This meant that we knew that there was huge potential for growth with a redesign and new software, but also that we had to be extremely meticulous with the way we made those changes so that they would not take away from the success the site had experienced so far.
When we dug into the Blueprint process, we were able to learn much more about what was contributing to the site's current success (for example, their SEO was doing very well) and what could be improved upon to increase their sales significantly (for example, design and usability).
This is something that they were not getting from the agencies who were sending out “boilerplate” proposals, and I think if they had gone that route they could have ended up with a developer who overlooked something major and important, and they likely would have ended up taking a step backward with the new site.
Instead, the detailed plan we laid out in the Blueprint allowed them to accomplish their major redesign and redevelopment goals while maintaining (and significantly building upon) the success of their existing site.
Erin: Excellent. I think that just about does it, and should give our readers another great example of just how valuable a Blueprint can be, when it’s used for the right project at the right time.
And to all our readers, if you’re wondering whether a Blueprint might be a great match for your upcoming website or app project, don’t hesitate to give us a ring at 970-668-0709, and either Rob or I would be happy to have a helpful, initial conversation with you to explore whether or not this could be a powerful solution for your company.