To make a professional website affordable for small businesses we knew we needed to build fast, because time is the commodity. In development there is Scrum Sprint method that we wanted to model after, but what we ended up coming up with could not be called a sprint…
This is a weeklong intensive workshop where we work with 4 business owners, and at the end each will have a quality custom website. We realize how ridiculous that sounds but stick with us. On Friday we start the first leg, all four business owners come in at 9am, and as a group we go over the fundamentals of building a web presence; look at things like branding elements and color pallets, identify buyer personas, what functionality the websites need, and several other variables. At the end of the first day (typically 8 hours but it goes by quick) each member of the cohort will have a wireframe (layout) of the website, a style guide, and a pretty good understanding of how the website is going to incorporate with their marketing efforts.
Then the following week is the second leg, each of the participants gets a dedicated day (Mon-Thur) where they sit down with us and build the website we visualized. Sometime will be spend together on how the layout comes together, but we’ll also have a station where the participant can stay busy writing website content for pages and blogs, as well as work on other parts of their web presence (like rounding out your google places page, working on a social media calendar, etc), while the developer codes and periodically gets their feedback.
Lastly, we all get together again on Friday evening, and we have a launch party. We’ll have snacks, beverages, and take turns reviewing all the sites created in our studio on the big screen (friends and family welcome)!
First, we thought if we could just code websites fast we could make it affordable. We went through all the major content management systems, explored an array of developer tools looking for efficiencies. We refined our process and became VERY quick at coding websites. But it didn’t make that big of a difference.
We realized most of the time in building a good website isn’t the coding, but instead in understanding the needs of the client, getting a feel for their audience and brand, and that takes time. Also our clients are often responding to our emails in the middle of their busy day when they are juggling a dozen other items, and sometimes it feels like we may ask too much of them. We need people to make decisions, often times many decisions, about the layout and use of their website, yet if we’re honest they might not understand all the implications of those decisions. Education either meant long emails or lots of meetings, both of which take time.
Our next step was to try and sit down with a client and build a website together, no distractions, just sit down for 8 hours and knock it out. We felt this would be the most efficient way to build a website, and it worked pretty good.. Unfortunately, there was a lot of education that had to happen before decisions could be made so ultimately we worked on planning until 2pm, coded for a couple hours together with the client, and then they went home while Rob coded late into the evening. We were getting close but the time (and as a result price) still wasn’t where we wanted it, and we really wanted that resolution of a completed website at the end of the day.
Rob teaches a Sales & Marketing Workshop every month and was reflecting on how collaborative participates are regardless of how varied their industries are, and how much positive energy there is when business owners work together… and that is when the idea was born, what if instead of focusing on building a website in one day, we focused on building 4 websites in 5 days. The result was magic.