Research resources can be scarce, even at large companies. Creating a research strategy is a big investment. It also causes ongoing costs. I’m working on the strategy for NerdCow and it’s a big challenge. These processes can be adapted and reused, which suits a consultative approach.
User testing is a big part of research and validation as well. We were green during the first moderated tests and, with proper guidance, the process would be much smoother. And since consultants can handle execution as well, hiring one would give us a head start. In the end, the best consultants aim to phase themselves out of your business – not to rinse you.
Consultants don’t just work with the “big picture” stuff. They can slot into your team to:
For web design projects, copywriting training has perhaps the biggest impact. It is the thing marketers struggle the most when working with agencies.
Web content differs greatly from print and what they taught us at school. We have written a course about website content to introduce people to it, but consultants can take your writing to the next level – especially if they have experience in your industry.
Not every marketing team has an SEO or paid advertising wizard on their hands. A consultant will help you start the campaigns, but also teach your team how to follow through on them.
Changing an agency is a painful process. You’ve built up all those relationships and you’re used to each other’s processes and tools. And now you have to introduce a new group. It can take months to get back on the same gear – not to mention the risk involved, but more on that later.
When you change an agency, it’s for strategic reasons. It’s possible that they can still execute a vision to perfection. In that case, a consultant takes over the strategic role and helps your team with research and testing, while your current agency handles web development.
SaaS and tech businesses employ brilliant engineers. But they rarely have the web design acumen. Hiring an agency might be a waste, since you have the development resources. In this case, a web consultant works in a similar capacity as they would if you had an agency.
Ooh, a negative word? 😳
Conflict may have negative connotations, but it’s only bad when there is no trust between all parties. A healthy organisation doesn’t have yes-men, but they thrive on conflict and the outcomes of resolving it.
We run collaborative workshops to align stakeholders from day one. Consultants are equipped with the same tools.
They help you to not only weed out the bad ideas but also prioritise the good. A lack of focus is detrimental to any project. Understanding the value and complexity of your ideas is crucial.
Efficiency is the Achilles heel of organisations. The value of your business relies on the processes it owns.
And processes are what we’ve covered in the previous sections. These will range from the aforementioned research strategy and user testing knowledge, all the way to “simple” tasks like creating content or even managing users on your website.
Here’s a little test. If a random employee can’t complete all basic tasks with relative ease, you’re in a pickle. And I don’t mean that they should ace a marketing campaign and get 1000% ROI.
Theoretically, they should be able to publish an article without compromising your blog. They might not have the writing skills, but the process should be easy to follow for anyone. Website consultants can help you draft these processes.
Well, probably not what to wear with those beautiful shoes of yours. But as far as web design challenges go, consultants are there for you. It’s insurance on steroids, as I like to say.
An unbiased opinion can do away with many bottlenecks. But there’s one aspect that we haven’t mentioned before, and it’s a second opinion on complexity estimates. While I hope you’ve built up enough trust with your agency or freelancer to not question their prices, complexity is a different thing.
Consultants, especially those with web development experience, can come in handy here. They can work with your development team to properly scope out tasks and suggest solutions that fit in your budget and timeline without creating technical debt.
We covered processes and the “coaching” side of consulting, but they’re just as capable of executing on the plan. There are hints of this in the section about user testing and research. It equally applies to web design and development.
Consultants have different skill sets, but you can definitely find those that can make their plan come to life. Freelancers can handle web design and development alone, and plenty of web consultants come from that background. The experience comes in handy, as experienced consultants will be able to launch early versions of features – and often even oversee the project from A to Z.
If not, outsourcing is extremely common – but it usually comes at a premium. If you’re looking for a hands-on consultant, make sure to ask about their network of partners in case you need more hands on deck.
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Originally published Aug 04, 2023 2:36:46 PM, updated September 23 2023.