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James
Hannaford
james.hannaford@cognitomedia.com

We sat down for a conversation with James Hannaford, Cognito’s Director of Digital, to talk about trends and the discussions he’s having with clients. 

Why should a marketing firm have an in-house development team? 

At Cognito we’ve invested heavily into bringing web development in-house to support both our clients and internal projects. Due to the inherent complexity a web development project can bring,  it’s important you have a team on site to support communication and project management. No web developer is the same, and working with highly skilled, talented ones is similar to the difference between a good and poor investment manager! Efficiency of code, speed of development and problem solving are just three main areas you need. It’s not as easy as outsourcing to India, contrary to some opinions.

Let’s talk about websites. Why do you think so many website projects turn into huge hassles for companies?

The hardest website you will ever build is your own. Websites are an under appreciated, under-estimated beast. They creep into the boundaries of all of your key business stakeholders, whether it’s head of brand, sales, marketing, head of product. When you start the website conversation, all of these stakeholders want a piece. It serves up a logistical challenge, and that’s why we’re best suited to help. We have the flexibility to move between key groups, drive the strategy and process, and be the go between amongst stakeholders. Any website project is far more than design and development, it’s about guiding the right strategy and ensuring the whole business is well represented.

What’s a realistic schedule for a new website? 

There’s no off the shelf solution for high end B2B grade websites. Timescales can vary, based on factors such as the size of business, number of stakeholders and internal sign off process. A typical project would take between 2 - 6 months.

How do you get large groups of people to agree on a single design? 

You can’t! Design is purely subjective, and you’ll never get away from that. However, when supported by logic  provided through wireframes and broader strategy, it detracts a little from those subjective elements. Design should have meaning, and when applied to the right hierarchy and structure, you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Where do you go for inspiration? 

We use many sources of inspiration both in and out of the financial industry. There is some really groundbreaking work launched every day. Some of it works, some is too risky. Finding the right balance of inspiration and matching that to a solid understanding of the audience is where the money’s at. If you’re keen for the upcoming and current trends, keep an eye on Dribble.

What are the mistakes executives make when they think about their new website?

All in all, websites are generally thought of too simplistically. Their execution can be simple, if required, however the greater scope when inclusive of content, hierarchy and structure broadens the internal process. . As touched on previously, in almost all B2B website cases the battle line will fall across multiple departments, which can not only increase the scope but lead to an internal challenge on its initial agreement. We’ve got guides on how to build a brief for a website which aims to cut through those problems. That’s the first part of our job.