How fear setting can help web design

Michael Gabrian

by Michael Gabrian on 06/15/2017

I came across this TED talk very recently. Tim Ferriss talks about why we should define our fears rather than goals. I've written a couple of articles on how important it is to define your goals when building a website or redesigning one, but I haven't thought about the other perspective; defining and addressing your fears before building a website or redesigning one.

Let's explore this idea and see how it could help prepare a better strategy before redesigning or building a website.

"Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will."
- James Stephens

Addressing these fears

Focusing on fears rather than goals won't change the fact that building a website is a big project requiring a large investment of time and money. If not done right, a lot can go wrong. So for entrepreneurs taking their company to the next level, directors who have their bosses to answer to, and everything in between, their are certain fears and anxieties that could arise from a project like this.

So when tackling these fears, you need to:

  1. Define what the possible bad outcomes of the project are
  2. Understand how to prevent them
  3. Think about how you could repair the damage if it did happen

Some examples

So in the case of redesigning your website, one fear could be that after investing tens of thousands of dollars and all of this time, you won't get the site design that you envisioned.

So what can you do to prevent this outcome?

One idea is to map in great detail all of the pieces you want in the design. Try to sketch your ideas out until you've drawn something that resembles what you want. You could even continuously monitor the site as it's being built to catch flaws early on.

If the final site is in fact, not what you wanted, how could you repair the damage?

Well, all you really can do is take that design and see how your users interact with it and make the changes when you have the budget. It would also be important to understand that even if the design doesn't look like everything you wanted, it doesn't mean your site won't still be succesfful. In fact, it could be even more successful. 

Another fear could be that a few months after release, you don't have any traffic coming to your site, and the people that do find their way don't stick around long enough to convert.

How can you prevent this?

Do a quick site audit before redesigning. See where you stand in terms of SEO and in comparison to your competitors. You'll be able to understand what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. This will help arm you with your own set of best practices to apply to the new site.

If your final site doesn't bring in the traffic that you were aiming for, how can you repair the damage?

You'll just have to up your marketing game. Some common solutions are following SEO best practices, increasing your blogging quality and frequency, and posting to social a couple of time a day.

Assessing the benefits

Next you should ask yourself:

"What might be the potential benefits of an attempt or partial success?"

Though subjective, for a lot of people who need redesigns, their websites have an outdated look. There are some must-have modern best practices not applied to these sites; mobile friendliness for example. So even if you hit some road bumbs, you're looking at a lot of improvements in the process.

For the team that invests tens of thousands of dollars into a site and isn't happy with the design. What are the potential benefits of the attempt or partial success they've found?

Well, the site probably looks more modern and aesthetically pleasing than it did before. That's good. Though you didn't get what you envisioned, you'll still be able to use the new design to boost SEO, conversions, etc.

The cost of inaction

It happens quite often where the price of a redesign will scare a team into putting the project off for a while. So let's talk a bit about determining the cost of inaction. Ferriss describes this as any emotion, physical, financial cost down the line for let's say 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years.

So to figure this out, we'd really have to determine the current challenges of your site. Are you losing conversions? If so, how much will the loss accumulate to over time if you don't invest in improving your site?

If the issue is your design and your losing your competitive edge, how long will you be able to postpone the redesign before you're no longer able to compete with other businesses.

To conclude:

We always determine goals in web design. What amount of traffic are we aiming for? What conversion rates? How much revenue should the site bring? And this is what kicks off design. And doing this is important. But how could fear setting also benefit the kick off of a redesign?

Well it's good to address these fears so we know how to combat any potential negative experiences that come up or any losses that come up. It's good to plan around these things.

It's also beneficial to understand the potential wins you'll see from actually going though with the project. Maybe you'll even determine that you'll be better off if you don't redesign your site. And that's fine too. 

Finally, you get a feel for the opportunity cost of either choice. What will your business look like in 6 months or a year if you go with the redesign vs if you don't?

And again, here is the link to Tim Ferriss' why you should define your fears instead of goals.

If you'd like to dig a bit more into building a redesign strategy, click the image below.

Learn how to create a redesign strategy