(Part 1 of 3) Website Blueprints: Invaluable Website Consulting
One of our most sought-after consulting services is the Website Blueprint. Website Blueprints replace overwhelm and confusion with clarity and a roadmap. Most commonly requested to help map out a large, complex website project, Website Blueprints can also provide businesses with existing websites with roadmaps to significantly improved results (usually in the forms of increased engagement, leads, or sales).
Today’s blog post is in the form of an informal, friendly interview. Below I interview our lead Blueprint consultant, Rob, and ask him common questions prospective clients ask about our Website Blueprint consulting services.
Today’s post: Will it be a good use of your time?
Erin: Super quick, we always want to make the best use out of our readers’ time. So, I'm going to be upfront with our blog audience here and share that today's interview likely won't be of interest to everyone.
It will probably be of the most interest to companies that are giving serious consideration to the building of a new website, or a new app, or who are completely reworking, or rethinking their existing site or app. It probably will be useful to companies who are preparing to send out R.F.P.s or speak with different agencies to get proposals, or who may be struggling to put together master plans for what their new site or app are going to be.
It probably won't be valuable for companies who are already very happy with their websites and their site performance, who feel clear that they know how to achieve their online goals, or who feel they know exactly what they want in their websites and aren't looking for expert guidance, or who simply have very basic website needs.
What exactly is a Website Blueprint?
Erin: Okay Rob, let's start with the basics. Can you tell our audience what exactly a website project Blueprint actually is?
A project Blueprint is generally going to be a preliminary consulting, planning, and discovery project that we do prior to actually diving into the programming design and other tangible development that's going to take place as we build a website or make improvements to a website or web application.
And really, what it involves is us sitting down and having a very, almost casual, conversation but a very normal conversation where we will discuss the goals and requirements of your project, and we will also do a lot of brainstorming. It's something I like to call “brain dumping” where, essentially, you'll tell me all of your ideas and you'll work with me to synthesize those ideas into what will eventually become a plan for the project.
And the project Blueprint deliverable is going to be the laid out action plan that takes all of your goals, all of your requirements, all the question marks that might be mixed in there, and presents you with a very clear plan of action for the next steps, whether that be a phase of development, a phase of design, or anything else for moving forward with your web project.
Is a Website Blueprint different than a proposal?
Erin: So, that's leads me to probably the most common question you and I get asked when we discuss Blueprints with prospective clients. And that is, "How in the world is a Blueprint different than a website proposal?"
Rob: The difference between a Blueprint and a website proposal is that the Blueprint is a very engaged, organic sort of conversation and it's a project in which you're engaging us to help you plan out what this website is going to look like. That contrasts with a request for a proposal in that, most of the time, if you're requesting a proposal, especially if you're doing it from multiple companies or multiple agencies at the same time, you're going to get back a bunch of random guesses at what you might need for a website, and there's really not a lot of back and forth or engagement during that process.
So, we've had experiences where a client has worked with us on a Blueprint after coming back from the proposal process saying, "I went out to three or four agencies, and I thought that I had a pretty clear idea and I thought I was conveying things very well, but everybody came back with totally different ideas and totally different numbers, and it was just next to impossible to compare apple to apples."
So, when we provide website consulting in a Blueprint project, what we're essentially saying is, anytime that you're doing something more than building a very simple, straightforward website, there tends to be a lot of things that you don't know that you don't know.
And if you go straight into a request for proposal, even though it may seem clear on paper, you're not necessarily conveying all of the exact needs or requirements, and everybody is going to come back with something a little bit different or, in some cases, a lot different. And that makes it very difficult to compare them and make a rational decision about who's the best organization to work with for your project.
In a Blueprint project, we say, okay, let's hold off on the proposal. Let's hold off on putting hard numbers on this. Let's actually take a step back, talk through your goals, your requirements, your unknowns, the things where, in some cases, you might think that it's a small idea, but it actually means a lot of work from a programming standpoint and the cases where you might think it's something really huge, but it's actually very easy from a development standpoint, or at least very straightforward.
We often find that, just by sitting down and having a few hours of conversations as part of the Blueprint consulting and Blueprint discussion, we're able to get so much more clarity early on, not only what the requirements of the project should be, but what are going to be the most valuable things that you can do at this stage of your project. There are times when we'll say, hey, we like this idea but we actually think this should be pushed back to phase two, and that your priorities should be X, Y, and Z.
Compared to a proposal, which is very much like a one-way street (like maybe there's just a few questions back and forth), and all of a sudden you're getting numbers dumped on you, which may or may not really be easy to compare to one another, the Blueprint allows us to sit down and work with you to create a clear list of requirements that a lay person can understand, so you can bring it to your executives or your board, if you need to, and a developer can understand, so you can use it with us, or even with another developer if you chose to do that. That puts everybody on the same page, and makes it super easy to compare apples to apples, and it makes the proposal process much clearer and more productive, because everybody is able to look at one document and clearly understand what the goals are for the project.
Is it too late for a Blueprint if a company has already started their website project?
Erin: Rob, you mentioned that a Blueprint is great as a website planning tool. Would you say it's too late to have a Blueprint created if a company has already started their website project? They've already begun, they've started it and realized that they're in over their head. Is it too late at that point?
Rob: I think when you're feeling that type of friction, it's actually a sign that it's time to take at least a quick step back and evaluate whether you have the right plan and the right procedure and even the right team members in place to create something really valuable for your company.
I would much rather see you press the pause button at that point than push your way through the project, even though you know something is wrong and you're not really feeling or seeing the value. Maybe people are starting to have turf wars or conflicts with each other, or there's confusion about what's going on.
So, if you're at a place where you've worked with a firm or tried to do something internally but you know that things are not really progressing as you expected, I think that's a great point at which to start a conversation with us around doing a Blueprint to get a clearer action plan in place. Because the reality is, if you're at that place and you're kind of feeling that now, it's going to be a lot worse in six months. There's a much better chance it's going to get worse than it's going to get better, if you don't do anything and you don't take that step back.
What we can do is help you take that high-level view, get your priorities straight, work out any technology issues or software issues or incompatibilities that are coming up, and help you get that big picture Blueprint for what you are going to be doing. I think, once you have that, if you're not a technical person, it gives you a framework with which to work with us or with other technical people who are on your team. And if you are a technical person, like a programmer, it ensures that you're on the same page as the executives and the non-technical team members and you're on the same page as everybody else who is engaged in the project.
Tune in next week for Part 2 of 3 of my Website Blueprint interview with Rob.