People grow to love their websites. They can also be resistant to change. When it comes to convincing someone that their website is in need of some serious updating, the combination of these two attributes can mean your advice goes unheeded.
So how do you convince this kind of hold-out client, or potential client, that you have their best interests at heart, and that they do indeed need a new website.
In this guide, we’ll look at a few techniques you can use to persuade clients that the time is right for an update.
Showcase their competitors
You keep up with best-practice in web design, it’s part of the job. Your client on the other hand is unlikely to have any interest in keeping up with the latest developments in design.
So if you suggest a change be made because it’s best practice, there’s a strong possibility that your client is asking himself “why should I care?”.
To address this unspoken concern, you need to talk about best practice in a way that feels relevant for your client.
An excellent way to do this is by identifying the leading websites in your client’s sector.
If you can show a client what their competitors are doing with their sites, and most importantly why what those competitors are doing is better than their site, the client is far more likely to listen to what you’re telling them.
Most of your clients won’t be interested in best practice, but they will be worried about their competitors getting one over on them.
Position yourself as the person who can stop them falling behind their rivals, and you stand a good chance of sealing the deal for the redesign.
Convince them with data
Websites are created to achieve a specific goal. It might be sales, it might be charitable donations, but whatever that goal is, it’s a huge motivating factor for your client.
So if you can prove their current site is harming their chances of people becoming customers, or donating, or whatever then you’re on to a winner.
Now obviously you can’t conclusively prove that a new site is going to be better than an existing site until that new is site up and running, but there are other ways to get the data you need to convince a client their current website has had its day.
The first is to run usability tests on the existing site. In an ideal world, you’d opt for usability labs testing, but if budget is a worry then guerrilla testing is an acceptable alternative.
Your objective should be to gather data from real potential customers and if the site really does need a redesign, then you should expect that to be reflected in the results.
Another possibility is convincing the client to let you A/B test some small changes on the site. If you can prove that a small tweak can have a positive impact, your client will be more likely to agree to wholesale changes.
Remember though, the way you present the data is just as important as the data itself. Make sure the findings of any tests your run are written up in a way that reflects your client’s main priorities.
If you just offer the client raw data, then they’re unlikely to understand what you’re trying to tell them.
Your clients won’t be able to interpret the results you’ve collected, so it’s up to you to do it for them.
If you can draw a clear line between the flaws of their current website, the impact those flaws have on the business’s bottom line and how things can be improved, then you’ll be one step closer to starting work on that redesign.
Ask them about their favourite websites
Your client may not have a list of their favourite websites which they regularly update, but they’ll undoubtedly have sites they keep going back to day in, day out.
Because good design “just works”, your client has probably given very little thought to how their favourite sites are designed, and how they differ from their own website.
So discuss their favourite websites with the client – ask them why they keep going back to that site, how easy they find it to use, if they’ve ever had any problems with the site and so on.
You might even want to use the Wayback Machine to show them how their favourite sites have evolved in terms of design over the years.
Now you’ve begun to discuss the basic principles of web design with your client in a way they can understand, it should be easier to shift the conversation to the shortcomings of their current website.
That in turn should make it easier for you to pitch your redesign.
Address their worries head on
Rather than trying to second guess your client, why not just ask them why they’re not keen to change their current website.
Once you’ve got a better understanding of exactly what their worries are, you can think of ways to overcome those objections.
Of course, the aim here isn’t to strong-arm someone into shelling out for a new website when they really don’t want one – it’s about helping them understand why that new website will benefit them and their business.
Having said that…
Don’t be afraid of the hard sell
The hard sell has something of a bad reputation, and of course it’s not suitable for every client or every situation.
However, if you can back your hard sell up with facts and figures, then it may well help you pin down that client who has been putting off a website redesign for months, or perhaps even years.
As web design is a sector that almost always requires good client relationships, it’s unlikely you’ll want to use the highest pressure techniques around.
However, don’t be afraid to make it clear exactly what someone is missing out on by putting off a redesign, and exactly what benefits their new website will bring them.
Don’t shy away from using your expertise to impress.
Don’t be afraid to shift your attention elsewhere
Although good client relationships and repeat business are desirable, in the end it’s not a good idea to use too much of your time chasing one deal.
No matter how convincing your arguments, some people will never be convinced. Even if someone hasn’t given you an outright no, it may be better for you and your business if you give up on trying to convince them, and spend that time on something else.
How do you convince clients they need a new website? Let us know in a comment.