Creative businesses: make time for yourself

21st October, 2016

Nexus design & print sketch

What does it take to build a good website? Our default answer would be: A good web design agency.

But what if you are the agency, and the website is your own? That’s more tricky.

Our new website is finally live and if you’re reading this, hopefully you’re enjoying the refreshed look & feel, the improved user experience and an easy journey that doesn’t tie you up in knots. The plan and development for this site has been over a year in the making, with page designs created, scrapped and reworked, reams of copy deleted, rewritten and optimised, piles of 301 redirects painstakingly untangled and the equivalent of about 5 days of testing with all hands on deck.

We’ve been designing brands and websites for longer than we care to remember, so why did it take so long for us to address our own? We look at the reasons why even the best businesses can neglect their own development and what can be done to solve this eternal dilemma.

Web design sketches and web site wireframes

1. You need time

The old adage of the plumber with the leaking tap rings very true. Graphic design is on our minds every minute of the day and informs all of the work we do at Nexus. There’s not a moment that passes where we’re not pitching, designing, coding, developing or strategising - constantly seeking ways to improve our service and deliver the best possible results to the client. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for introspection, but it is so important. To review yourself as a company and seek ways of applying the skills of your staff to better your business is imperative to growth. Make time and the results will be worth it.

2. You need clear, unified direction

Earlier this year we held an internal meeting to thrash out some goals for the coming months. We asked ourselves - what do we like doing? What are we good at? What do we want to move away from? What sort of agency do we want to be? As a company we answered these questions honestly and truthfully. It helped us to realise our direction and closely define what we’d be putting our energies into in the future. This exercise also threw into sharp relief how badly we needed to address our website and our brand. The message we were putting out did not represent us accurately. The project gained considerable momentum at this point because suddenly it was clear what we needed to achieve.

3. You need supportive management who trust the expertise of their staff

For the first time Nexus were free to create a brand that we could be proud of. Historically it had always been a difficult struggle between our own designers’ expertise and needing to please the management. As a result we weren’t able to grow organically and become the fresh, vibrant agency that we wanted to be. Many of our team have been with Nexus a long time and as such have an intrinsic knowledge of our industry and our clients. Not being able to act upon this knowledge and develop ourselves in-line with what we knew best was very frustrating. Under the new management, we were given full autonomy to build a site centred around our strengths, our clients and our values as a company. We were trusted to put our knowledge into practice and make full use of the skills and strengths of our team.

4. You need commitment

Although time was in short supply, we committed to spending every minute of our downtime focused on the project. Getting to project completion was a case of getting each task done, one step at a time, slowly but steadily. Sometimes we blocked out afternoons to sit quietly and work through big chunks, other times we wouldn’t have any room to work on it for days on end. It took a very long time, over a year, but we slowly chipped away and eventually we achieved our goal. 

Big projects like this can seem too much to cope with, especially for thriving, busy companies. But with time, direction, support and commitment it’s possible to realise and achieve your goals for the better of your team and your business. Client work does and should always come first, but self development work has to come a close second. 

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