It’s not very often that we cover horror stories in this blog or mainstream outside news but the lawsuit between Hertz and Accenture deserved its own blog post after getting our attention!

This article highlights why it’s so important to get the right web design agency in place to work on your project. It’s not size, it’s not the more you pay the better your project will be, but when choosing a web designer, it comes down to project management, scoping a detailed time frame that is achievable and working with an agency with the required skillset.

There are so many people out there looking around at web agencies and think because they have the most staff and the top London offices that they will be a great agency – Which isn’t always the case.

And to be clear we’re not talking about Accenture here; we’re talking web agencies in general.

To give a little summary, Hertz hired Accenture to develop a website and mobile app, that was reportedly delayed numerous times, buggy and according to reports didn’t include responsive designs… For a whopping reported cost of $32,000,000!

Although we must add that Accenture has hit back saying the case is “without merit”.

You can read more about this here: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/04/23/hertz_accenture_lawsuit/

But moving on from that article, what lies at the foundation of this reported cock up and any other cock ups are a few key things:

Poor Planning

We stress how important it is to plan you website and have detailed many times why it is important to get your project management right before a line of code is designed or pixel moved on a screen.

Proper planning will allow everyone to know what the end result is going to be, if pre-planning is done correctly then solutions and potential problems will be ironed out in a minimal viable product/demo – So that when scaled up there are no unexpected nasties.
By ironing out issues beforehand and running small scale tests – it reduces the possibility of a mid-project issue, which will cause delays.

Clear Project Scope

You will notice in the register article that a dispute over responsive designs is taking place and that Accenture “demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fees to deliver the promised medium-sized layout.”

When you have a clear project scope it will detail all the designs you are expected to receive, desktop, mobile and tablet designs if requested.

When you have everything clearly labelled, it works as a checklist of items that you can simply cross off as deliverables as and when they are done.

This also avoids any arguments further down the line when you have a clear scope that lists the deliverables, it’s best to be specific and include number of designs and any additional cost for extra designs that may be required, a simple clear statement such as “this project includes 10 desktop designs, 10 iPad designs and 10 mobile designs – Included is X revisions per page and any additional pages will be charged at £xx,xx per design” That way its clear exactly how many designs are to be expected – And it’s also better to mention which designs will be included – and the cost for any additional designs/revisions outside the scope.

Accountability

It’s important to also map out who is responsible for what areas of the project and ensuring that each person keeps to their role and delivers what they say they will when they say they will.

Without clear accountability it can cause delays to a project. If a company’s marketing department is tasked with getting all the required brand assets, logos and imagery across to the web agency by a certain date and they miss it – Then this could cause knock on effects further down the line.

The same goes with your web agency, their internal team should be clear on what needs to be delivered when and they have to be confident that the deadlines can be met without issue.

Your digital agency will also need to take some accountability in ensuring deadlines are met. Some of the most common ways that web agencies fall behind are:

  • Over estimating a project
  • Under estimating the complexity of the project specification
  • Waiting for resources/assets from the client
  • Waiting on the client to report back in a reasonable time
  • Having inexperienced staff
  • Taking on too much work

Have a clear spreadsheet that lists out all the stake holders’ names, what they are responsible for, who they need to deliver to and on what date.

Quality Assurance / Bug Testing

Depending on the size of the agency that you work with, they may have a whole department of multiples of people who do QA testing or if they are a smaller agency it may just be 1 person they have to do QA testing or depending on the budget, they could hire in external testers.

Not testing for bugs or even worse, fixing one bug and causing another bug is a common practice when there isn’t a quality assurance procedure in place.

Obviously, the more people you have at your disposal the quicker it is to find bugs.

The first testing to do is usability – Ensuring all the buttons work when clicked and go to where they should and that everything is sized correctly for both desktop and mobile devices.

It’s best to do a test on desktop first and then mobile.

You would benefit from using real world external tester to help with testing for numerous reasons:

  • They aren’t close to your project, so they will click and press unexpected things
  • You get first hand experience from watching and speaking to people interacting with your website/app
  • It’s a whole new fresh approach to your project with a fresh set of eyes.

Usertesting.com is a great affordable platform to use to get some real-world users if you don’t have the budget to get 6-8 people into a room.

You can set users tasks to test different areas of the website and even using different browsers and screen resolutions to widen your testing.

It’s also worth including something like Trackduck on your website – This allows beta testers to leave a “sticky note” of their feedback at the click of a button.

You can now see what goes into developing a website, the planning and testing that is often over looked, you would think for $32,000,000 that there wouldn’t be a sniff of a single issue or misplaced pixel, but it just goes to show – Without these key elements, even the biggest of web projects can fall flat on their face.

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