Some years back I went into a town office and spoke to the person responsible for their web development. We chatted away and I made mention of their logo, which I felt was rather strong, and asked why it was not part of their website? The answer I quite huffily received floored me “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website.” I left shortly thereafter as I have found through experience it is of little benefit to try to work with or educate a person who evidently knows far more than you do about a subject.
I sat down some time later with another person who had asked me to look at their non-profit website, which I did and we put a plan together for them. Knowing beforehand they had little money we put a proposal together that we were knowingly going to lose money on … actually a lot of money; but my thought was if we develop this we could market to other organisations of the same type. Similar to the meeting above I ran into someone that had been to a couple of seminars and knew far more than I did about web development … and to top it off our price in their opinion was ridiculously high. I withdrew our proposal for the same reasons as above.
On the other side, there was a particular town that put out an RFP to re-brand. On the face of it this is a good idea, particularly if you are looking at defining and positioning the town and understand you need a consistent message, look and feel across all the touch points of your town. This town received a number of proposals, (I was not one of them for the record) ranging from a low of about $35K to over $100K and after deliberation and presentations they chose a contractor that came in around $40K.
Surveys were taken, discussions held and a brand book was developed. The brand book was done in the usual formats and laid everything out as to how the new look was to be delivered complete with a definition of the town’s message. Then came the unveiling of the new logo … everyone was excited and the town proud of the design chosen. My personal opinion when I saw it some time later was “Oh My” as it looked to me like they were graphically saying, don’t come to our town as we have nothing to offer.
The description was the usual, this colour depicts this, and this other colour portrays this thought, and the graphic so clearly shows this and this and this. I read it and what came to mind was the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We spent $40K so it must be good and we will roll it out across every touch-point in our town. At least they recognise that the logo needs to be a part of their website which put them way ahead of the other town group.
On the surface it seems this town did everything correct. They sent out an RFP, they narrowed down to a choice of 2 or 3 and then had the selected groups make presentations to the selection committee and then chose and awarded the contract. Using that method, you often can luck out and the design team can come up with a winner … and other times it can be a $40K disaster.
Have you ever sat on a committee? Everyone has an opinion and in their own field they are probably very good and, their opinion in their field probably has some merit. Remember the first paragraph of this article? If the person “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website” was on the committee and had a strong voice or if someone who had been to a seminar and now was an authority was part of the group … well I pity the contractor.
So what could the town have done to protect themselves? In my opinion they should have hired a consultant to create the RFP and assist in selecting the short-list. Then the consultant could have guided the committee through to the final choice and been the contact point for the contractor. Professional to professional and the town ends up the winner.
Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions Inc., a Web Development company serving clients across North America. It takes a team to create a website that works.