What to do when a web design project goes wrong

Web design projects can go wrong with a multitude of reasons, but what do you do if your project isn’t going well? Established web design agency Peacock Carter provide advice based on over 10 years of dealing with web design project rescues.

by Richard Carter.

Web design projects can go awry for many reasons. Perhaps the agency you’ve employed misunderstood your brief; the specification was wrong; the agency didn’t have the skills it claimed to have; the project is more complicated than anticipated; the agency has lost a key member of staff.

Whatever the reason web design projects going wrong can be very stressful – it can delay product launches, marketing campaigns, and disappoint your customers. So, what can you do when a web design project goes wrong?  

As a web design agency who have been around for over 10 years, we see a lot of “web design rescue” projects coming in. This article is aimed to help you detect the “bad smells” of a project going wrong, and how to rescue the project, based on our experiences.

Bad web design project smells

The first trick in your arsenal is to detect a bad – or potentially bad – project. One or two of the below indicators may occur in any given web design project, but if you nod your head at the majority of the below, your web design project may be in trouble:

  1. Long times between contact: are you struggling to contact your assigned project manager? Do team members take a long time to reply to emails? We’re all busy, but if you’ve lost your communication lines with the team working on your website, your project may be turning sour.
  2. A lot of what you were promised in initial meetings with the agency is now “unachievable” in the budget. Web design agencies can be guilty of over-selling, and once you have committed may try and reduce the features and scope of the project to keep the project sustainable for them. There are many genuine technical reasons an agency may decline a particular feature, however.
  3. Deadlines pass without contact – projects can overrun, but you should be informed ahead of a deadline if it won’t be made.
  4. Work presented is hugely different from the specification or project brief you had approved. Communication is a large factor in any project’s success, and it can cause huge misunderstandings in how your project develops. Bear in mind your web design agency may be working in a sector they’re not familiar with, which brings its whole new dictionary of jargon and acronyms; you may need to clarify how your industry works, and key processes within it.
  5. Poor quality control: if you’re receiving work of poor quality, it may be down to the agency’s quality control processes. Bugs are a natural part of any technical project, and no project is ever “bug free”, but agencies should be aiming to minimise the bugs in a system in a consistent process.

How to rescue your web design project

Every project is different, but there are many common factors in “bad” web design projects, as you’ve seen above. Below is a list of suggestions to help you rescue your web design project:

  1. Talk to your web design agency: this may seem obvious, but let your existing agency know you’re unhappy, and work with them to resolve it. Whilst transferring your project to a new web design agency may seem tempting, this can often over-complicate the issue and delay the project further. This is because the new agency will need to get up to speed on the project, and work out what is complete, and what is in need of rewriting or additional work. For simpler issues, therefore, it can be best to stick with your existing agency to complete the project.
  2. Mediate; if talking directly to your web design agency isn’t working, trying contacting a third party web design consultant who can help ascertain the state of the current project from a technical viewpoint, and where the issues lie.
  3. Consult other agencies: we offer website audits which can give you an idea of the state of the work that has been completed, and where you stand. These can be a great way of maintaining your relationship with the agency, and providing a guiding hand in ensuring you’re receiving work of a good quality to your requirements.
  4. Build on the existing project, or start it again? This is a question we’re asked frequently for “web design project rescue” scenarios – should you keep the work completed so far, and have another agency build on that, or start again?
  5. Most of all, try and remain calm – work with your agency, rather than – in all likelihood, they will want the project to succeed just as much as you do.

Need help to rescue your website project?

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you rescue your web design project, please do get in touch. Peacock Carter have over 10 years experience in mediation and auditing web design projects to help resolve issues between clients and agencies.