If you’ve been following our adventures on Facebook over the last few months, you know we have been remodeling the little white house which is home to Team Peg. The project is finally wrapping up, we are assembling the last of the furniture we ordered from IKEA, hanging a few pictures and adjusting to the new space.

As I sit at my new desk reflecting on the last few months, I realize that remodeling a building is a lot like building a website.

Web design lessons from my remodeling project:

The project starts with a good contractor – We chose Mike Siebert at Celebrity Custom Homes because I was familiar with his work. After our first meeting I was comfortable and didn’t feel the need to shop around. My objective was not to go with the lowest bid, but find someone who understood our unique challenge trying to do a renovation of this magnitude, while we continued to work in the building. Oh, and did I mention we have cats?

As you interview web design firms, hire one who “gets you”, Look at their best work, if you don’t love that, you won’t love your site.

Make tough choices up front – My first plan included adding on to the back of the building and adjusting the roof line. It would have been awesome, but way too expensive. So I looked at my entire wish list and decided which elements were “must haves” and which ones were the “nice to have”. Once I set my priorities, it was easier to work with Mike and find a creative way to accomplish the “must haves’ within the existing foundation and within my budget. A few items were tabled for some day down the road and others are no longer on my list.

Take time at the beginning of your web design to make an exhaustive list of all the features you might want. Then rank order the list. Decide which are absolutely non negotiable elements and which ones you can live without. Now you are ready to start the project.

Set a clear schedule – With separate crews for demolition, carpentry, painting, wiring and plumbing, this project was like a well orchestrated ballet. One team would arrive just as the other was leaving. If one crew ran longer than anticipated it would wreck havoc on the whole schedule.

And I was part of that team. Along the way, I had to make decisions on windows, flooring, bathroom fixtures and lighting. If I took too long to give feedback the project would pause waiting on me.

As you work on  your web project, the design team will do the heavy lifting, but you need to be involved. They will rely on you to provide feedback on design ideas and photos of your product or service. Check in with the web design team on a regular basis to be sure they are not waiting on you for any decisions or content.

Plan for a little more – Since we were renovating a 65 year old house which wasn’t built all that well to begin with, I expected a few surprises. I made sure I had a little extra in my budget to cover the surprises we had along the way. Good news was there was even enough to spring for new window treatments which weren’t in the original plan, but definitely helped to finish off the rooms in style.

Once you launch your web site, you are sure to find other small changes you will want to make. That might include adding an additional feature, rolling out an email newsletter or spending a bit on AdWords to jump start your traffic. Your website is the center of your marketing, but it should not be your only marketing. Give your business a chance at real success by supporting your new website with other marketing tools.

Celebrate when you are done. This needs no explanation! 

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