Eating your own dog food

There are few briefs more challenging to a digital agency than 'we need a new website' from colleagues that make... websites. Why are internal projects so much more challenging than external ones?

Why it's the hardest thing to do

It's often the case that companies in our field neglect their own websites due to the demands of client work. Something you do with great success for your clients isn't necessarily a priority for you. We've even put projects for clients in the same sector before ours. The old adage of the Cobblers children never having any shoes rings true.

That was the case for CIVIC for a number of years until the business case for changing our own website became difficult to ignore. It no longer reflected our offer and capabilities. It was built with long out-of-date techniques and we didn't feel comfortable referring prospective clients to it. It had to go and so we set about planning a new one.

Why it's the hardest thing to do

Where do you begin?

When you work closely with experts in different fields within the same industry it's easy to get excited and carried away on different waves of ideas, disagreements and thoughts on best practise. It's even harder to get them all in the same room to plan it through when deadlines loom and phones ring. But we set off with best intentions and a well-worn plan.

We discussed our business objectives first. We did a brand health check workshop to make sure our offer, values, positioning, and tone of voice rang true. We researched our audience, we planned our content and decided on a mobile friendly, content first, collaborative design approach. Perfect.

Putting theory into practise

We couldn't wait to get stuck in and show the world why our company is the best thing since animated gifs. But even with the best of intentions, things don't always go to plan. Especially when you are too close to the business and eager to try untested territory.

Days slip and best practise falls foul to urgent need. But we managed to get it done, which was no easy task for a busy company like CIVIC. It was difficult, but we got there. What we have built is essentially a prototype, and I think that's a good way to view what you put online. It's never finished, nor is it ever perfect, but a work in progress.

We will continue to test, tweak and modify as we go and invest the time needed to improve it over time. We'll learn what works and what doesn't from our users. We'll use it to test new approaches, content and enhancements to avoid lapsing on our investment. After all, it's what we endeavour to do for our clients.

Here's what we learnt along the way

Where I think we succeeded

• We grasped the nettle, knuckled down and got it done
• We have a renewed focus on what matters to this business
• We got to know our audience better and what makes them tick
• We have a platform to voice the opinions of our team
• We have a site that better reflects our brand personality.

Where I think we failed

• We didn't plan it like a client project
• Project work inevitably took priority, time was pressured
• We missed an internal deadline
• It's not as feature-rich as we wanted it
• It's not as polished as it could be.

What we have learnt

• Getting consensus amongst colleagues is difficult, lemon difficult
• It's hard to look at your own business objectively
• Plan it like a client project, seriously
• Don't let perfectionism get in the way of progress
• Hiring a professional copywriter helps
• We are our harshest critics
• The audience that matters most isn't designers or developers

If we were to take one thing away from this process it would be...

Be kinder to your clients, working on projects to promote your own business is a lot harder than you think.
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If you are an advertising, marketing or digital agency looking to improve your online presence but just don't have the time, hiring a competing agency to do it for you isn't as mad as it sounds.

If you’d like to put your business through a brand health check email us on info@civicuk.com and we’ll send you a guide to start you on the right path.

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Contact Whatever you need

If you have a question or query about the services we offer or what we can do for your business, call us on 0131 624 9830 or email info@civicuk.com