I’m rebranding. And it’s time for a new website.
Oh, what an odyssey!
When I started Leadership Incorporated in 2005, I had enough skill (from my 25 years in the ad biz) to put together a passably professional site on my own. Now my business has grown and evolved, I need a solution beyond my ability or time to produce.
So I set out to find a web designer to get the job done.
Spoiler alert: first mistake.
As your jammed spam folder can assure you, there is no shortage of web designers poised to redesign your site. Of course, I didn’t use the spammers. I reached out to the excellent web design professionals in my network, trying to find the right combination of design sophistication, programming ability and price.
I spent literally months in conversations with professional design companies. My gut told me we were talking about more work, time, complication and cost than I actually needed. But I didn’t have another solution.
I was ready to write the check and get moving when my business partner from my advertising past (who I should have asked to begin with, second mistake!) pointed out to me that WordPress has all kinds of new templates that don’t look like “templates.” A few looked almost exactly like what I had envisioned.
So I asked the project manager, “Couldn’t we save some time and money by using one of these WordPress templates instead of reinventing the wheel?”
His response: “Sure. But then you wouldn’t be talking to us, you’d go to a Themer.”
That was a slap-on-the-head-I-could’ve-had-a-V-8-moment! And my third mistake.
I’d never even heard of a Themer before! Turns out, there is a whole profession of graphic artists who aren’t web designers or programmers, yet work magic with WordPress themes. For a fraction of the cost! In a fraction of the time!
Big learning here with much broader application.
My mistakes: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions!
- I assumed that web design was basically the same as when I left the ad business almost 10 years ago. I forgot that industries don’t just improve, they evolve. (Even someone who facilitates companies in evolving can make this mistake! Irony!)
- I assumed I was doing thorough research, and I was — in the area of web design. Only my earlier assumption kept me from looking into a perfect solution that I didn’t know existed.
- I assumed I had the right language. Go to a web designer and ask for design and that’s what they will quote and provide. It’s not their fault. My outdated language set me up to waste their time (I feel terrible about that) as well as my own.
Where might your assumptions have you pursuing the wrong tools and skill sets?
Here some effectiveness coaching tips to take from my mistakes:
- Become an absolute beginner. Put aside everything you think you know.
- Look for the total paradigm shift of a way to do the job (only better, faster and more cost effectively.) If you’re going to assume something, assume the world has changed fundamentally since you last used a similar tool. (Guaranteed it has!)
- Reach out to people more likely up-to-speed than you are!
- Ask prospective vendors other paths you might take to get the same results. And hope you’ve got vendors who will tell you the truth!
- Listen to your gut. When you truly need a web designer go to a web designer. But when your gut is telling you that you don’t have the right solution yet, listen and explore other avenues. (Extrapolate to other solution providers as needed!)
One of Don Miguel Ruiz’ brilliant Four Agreements code for life is “Never Assume Anything.” Good advice.