April 19, 2017, by Erik Larson

The Pitfalls of Custom Websites

...and a way to avoid them altogether

You've just finished your economic impact report, and the firm that completed the work has delivered a thick document to you. With scores of pages of data and analysis, you are armed with the information you need to make the case for your industry. But now comes the hard part: how to make a long story short?

The most common approach is to hire yet another firm, a graphics and web design shop, to create a beautiful, graphics-heavy corner of your website to display the data, infographics and factoids that distill your giant impact report down to bite-sized content.

Before you jump headlong into a custom website development project, read this first.

The Top 3 Pitfalls of Custom Websites

#1: Project Scope

"If we had it to do over again, we would have spent way more time carefully defining the scope of the project. The problem is, we never seem to have that time."

Scoping web development projects is hard. Part of this is inherent to the work – we don't tend to know upfront exactly how we want a website to look, feel and behave. Even large companies with dedicated teams struggle with scoping development projects. The other part that makes scoping projects difficult is you do not do it often enough to iron out all the kinks. It simply isn't core to your day-to-day work.

#2: Static vs. Dynamic

"New opportunities to advocate for our industry arise each week. We need our story to evolve with the dynamic nature of the market and policy landscape."

Things change. Often times it is only at the end of a project that we see more clearly where we really need to go with it to be successful. In the ever-changing world of data, this is even more true. With custom web design as the front-end for your impact reports, you are locking yourself into a design, dataset and storyline that cannot evolve with you. Opportunities open up for you as your team is out doing its work in the real-world. You need your impact report communications to evolve with you. Making changes to your custom site will add cost, take time and oftentimes simply will not be possible.

#3: Scope Creep

"We only get budget approval once. There's no room to make additional improvements once the ship has sailed."

Add #1 and #2 and you get scope creep. The business model of custom development services is based on time and materials. If you need more than the fixed scope and quote accounts for (wiggle room we can assume has been used up to get a finished product out the door), it will cost more. Non-profits generally operate on fixed budgets, unlike spendier corporations, which leaves us to make the best with what we have instead of being able to optimize for maximum results.

Introducing eImpact Report: an agile, web-based toolkit to make beautiful impact report dashboards.</div

  1. Empower your team. With eImpact, your team can make the changes to your existing report you need and also create new reports. Simple, drag and drop tools let you do the work you need to, without adding cost or time you cannot afford.
  2. Embed on your website. With copy/paste embed codes, you can create the content you need and add it to your website or blog without coding skills or technical abilities. We're all about making it easy.
  3. Iterate at will. New issues cropping up? New opportunities opening up? Create fact-sheets and other new content and respond in real-time.

With eImpact Report you can become your industry's voice. We give you all the data and tools you need to achieve maximum impact and influence.

Your industry. Your economic impact.

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