On a typical Saturday morning, you’ll find me drinking a big pot of coffee and channel surfing between HGTV and TLC. (It is the closest I get to reality TV.) Today, while watching Property Ladder, I had a brain flash about how the challenges of renovation are similar to those of website relaunches. I’m always looking for ways to persuade senior campus leaders about the principles of web strategy. Property Ladder is an example I can add to my repertoire. Hang with me here!
The official description goes something like this, “Property Ladder follows the process known as ‘flipping,’ as novice real estate developers attempt to renovate properties considered “diamonds in the rough” and re-sell them for a lucrative profit.” Sound familiar? Think about it.
Inexperienced individuals who are uninformed about what it takes to renovate a house.
It looks easy. Even without experience, flippers think they can figure out how to install flooring or replace plumbing. We all know the website equivalent here: many underestimate the skills and abilities required to create a compelling web presence. Like most things, it’s a lot harder than it looks. People on our campuses need education about the discipline of web communication.
Confident novices who don’t need to check with experts first.
Property Ladder often profiles flippers who have limited cash but are eager to get started. So they dive right in, assuming that home inspections are a waste of time and money. They’ve walked around the property; they know what they’re getting. They ignore the risks. Website equivalent: we often don’t check our plans and ideas with expert peers or colleagues who have already completed a successful web relaunch project. You have to identify risks in order to mitigate them.
You aren’t going to live in the house you’re flipping.
Too many times, flippers paint the kitchen walls orange (their favorite color) and add other taste-specific touches to the house they are renovating. They forget that they aren’t constructing a home for themselves and they get caught up in what they like. Website equivalent: the university website should not reflect the structure of the organizational chart and choices about visual elements shouldn’t be determined by personal preferences. Not only that, satisfying the needs of visitors outside the community must be the goal. Bottom line: YOU are not the audience for your website.
I’m going to do this in 6 weeks with a budget of $8,500.
Flippers make a lot of WAGs; unfounded estimates about how much time something takes and how much materials and labor will cost. Sometimes, their budget is not based on solid numbers; it’s simply the amount of money they happen to have. Web equivalent: The myriad of technical, creative, editorial, and migration tasks that make up a web relaunch require resources; namely enough time and enough money. All too frequently, senior administrators shortchange the process because they need to cut costs. Sometimes, money they save on the front end is spent on the back end of a project—and often at a premium. Reducing the project scope often gets you the quality you need at a cost you can afford.
I could go on. Nothing’s easy and nothing’s free. Even the web. The old saying is true for web strategy and Property Ladder: you have to spend money to make money.