Well, it’s done. More or less, anyways. After two or three years of designing, deleting, destroying, and redesigning, we finally published a new site (and branding) for Envy Creative. I actually almost can’t believe it really happened.
I’m really proud of the work that the team did on the site to bring it into the world, the development is top-notch. And, I’m happy with the design work that I did in the process. That said, I’ll never ever ever ever ever do it again. Not ever. Never.
Why? Well, it is pretty simple . . .
I am the worst client I have ever had.
I had zero concrete ideas for what I wanted. I had zero points of reference. I had no defined goals. I had no idea who my audience was. I had no vision. Oh, and I could never constructively criticize anything that I presented to myself, it always just “felt wrong” or “wasn’t quite there”. I was impossible to satisfy. As a result, the process dragged on and on, weeks stretched into months, months into years. Everyone involved just grew more and more frustrated, and hope wained. I am one client that I absolutely should have fired.
Also, as a designer . . .
I was not a good fit for this project.
I churned out tentative work, over-the-top work, minimal, busy, bizarre, everything under the sun. I couldn’t get my client to define the project in any tangible way, and when I tried to define it I allowed the client to blow it up and further cloud the mission. I was not a professional guiding the project along, I was a short-order specialist that just cobbled together looks at the whim of the client. I was not able to help my client, so I was not the right designer for the project. Period.
So, how the hell did we ever get it done?
Well, finally, my brother stepped in and gave me some direction. He became the client, he defined the goals, and he offered constructive, occasionally unforgiving, criticism. I fired myself as a client and pulled myself from the project as a designer. This wasn’t working, so it was time we parted ways. My brother hired me as a designer, I felt the fit was right with the client, and together we were able to get something done we were both proud of.
What does this mean for the future?
This will not be the last time that we redesign our website. As a web design company, it is important that we keep our web site looking fresh. I know that this site has a shelf-life and will one day need to be replaced.
Next time, however, I will hire another firm to design it for us.
That idea seemed so foreign to me when I first started working on our redesign, but I had heard of other design firms doing it. I figured that our website should be a reflection of our work in and of itself, and it would be somewhat disingenuous to have another firm design our site for us. What would that say to our clients about how we felt about our skills?
Now that I have been through the process, I feel entirely different about taking the project to another shop. When you break it down, it makes sense on so many levels.
First, it would be the right financial decision. I have not yet sat down and calculated the amount of time I spent over the last two or three years working on this project. But, I know that if I had to send myself an invoice, I’d be stunned at the final number (not to mention scrambling for a way to pay it). And sure, I don’t have to pay myself, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t cost me anything. It cost me time, and time is money, of course. The time I spent running down dead-ends on this project, I could have spent developing our business in other ways. This site cost me a fortune.
Secondly, it seems hypocritical to ask our clients to do something we are unwilling to do ourselves. I think stepping into their shoes and trusting someone else with our digital would provide us with valuable insights we could use to improve our process and work.
So, there you have it. We learned a lot and we ended up with a site that we can be proud of. In the end, that’s more than we were hoping for. The site has received positive reviews from clients, friends, and peers, which means that (despite ourselves) we must have done something right.
We’ll talk again soon.