If you watch the popular show Fixer Upper on HGTV, you know there's a method to the magic of Chip and Joanna Gaines. The couple guides a family through a renovation process, and the steps are predictably unpredictable. Home renovation is a lot like a website redesign, and when you’ve got a great team to work with, it’s easy to uncover the potential and get great results. Here’s how our team and the Gainses compare.
You know it well - the scene where the homeowners are shown in their car, driving to three locations with the Gaineses. Where does their current house fall short? How can they improve on a less-than-perfect home? Can they grow into it? What are their 'must-haves'? What budget are they working with? From there, the team is able to find the right home for the family.
Ascedia's strategic planning phase vets all the options by delving into similar questions with our clients. What are your goals? What doesn't your site do now that you wish it did? How many people are going to use the site? What are your business growth plans? What are your must-have, nice-to have and long-shot dream features? We take the answers into consideration, and in conjunction with research and site audits, we prepare a features list to lay the groundwork for what we'll create. It's based on what your site is now,- but it's inspired by your needs and our vision -- and in the end it will be so. Much. Better.
Joanna will often have clients create a Pinterest board to show what they love in other houses and interior. They find out if the homeowners want marble countertops or butcher block; reclaimed wood or mid-century modern accents, and even what era of home the family is attracted to.
Likewise, Ascedia’s creative team needs to understand what it is you're looking for in a website, so they'll often ask for sample sites that you admire. We'll explore with you what you like and don't like in design, and then mesh that with our best practices in user experience. Just like it's unappealing to walk into the entryway of a home where the first thing you see is a wall, our designers know what users need in order to navigate your purchase journey without obstacles.
Joanna sits down with the couple to show them what she's come up with using rendering software. This is when the fun starts. We are visual creatures, so to see the dream come to life lights up spirits of the homeowner. Showing them the possibility of what it CAN be sets the stage for what can be a long process, which means the homeowners need to have faith that Joanna will get it right.
Wireframes, style tiles, and visual representations are Ascedia's counterpart to Joanna's designs. This is when we unveil our creative vision to our clients. This is the fun part, where all the features you're looking for come to life. We walk you through what will be your new website, and, if we do our jobs right, we've built enough trust as a team so that you believe we can get the project done right.
Demo and Reno
This is the part when the Gaineses get their hands dirty. It's Chip's turn to have some fun. He's got to figure out what comes down, and what goes up in its place. It takes a team to make it happen, and someone's got to lead the team - that's where Chip comes in!
Developers know how to work hard and play hard. This phase isn't called ‘site architecture’ for nothing. It's truly a build, and it takes a full team of front- and back-end developers at Ascedia too. They collaborate with marketing analysts and everyone works closely with your project manager to keep it all moving smoothly.
There's always surprises for Chip and Joanna. Whether it's a city code violation, faulty wiring, or a load-bearing wall that can't be removed, every surprise means changes to the budget. Something's gotta give, and it usually comes down to fewer features or more money. Chip never wants to make that dreaded call to the client to break the bad news, and will bargain with Joanna to have her do it for him. She usually makes a friendly but succinct call that focuses on how this change contributes to the success of the project as a whole and will ultimately make the end result better.
In our world of web development, we know something will inevitably come up that threatens the budget. After all, you can't know everything before you start -- it's impossible! When our account management team needs to make that dreaded call, we have options and recommendations ready that have come from careful collaboration and meticulously weighed risks. We, like you, must be confident that getting past hurdles will contribute to the success of the project.
The Site Visit
On Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna discourage the homeowners from visiting the project site. They want to have an element of surprise when they do the final reveal – it adds to the drama and creates a compelling cliffhanger over the commercial break.
Here’s one area where we do things differently. At Ascedia, we want to bring you into the process and keep you involved so you can see the project progressing every step of the way. This means we set up Iteration Review meetings where we walk you through what's been done so far and how it works. This gives you a chance to speak up if something isn't turning out as imagined, or if another department has a feature that got left off the initial wish list. We can plan and shift on a dime to include it (but we may need to make that dreaded call about the impact on budget or timelines!)
We always see the part of the episode where Joanna is putting finishing touches on the home with her signature farmhouse décor. She is in the zone, moving through each room and creating her vision as it comes to life. She wants to make sure everything is perfect when the homeowners walk through the door.
Our dedicated QA team gets 'in the zone' too. They buckle down with a desk full of devices and check every single page to ensure it meets project requirements. They know that if something is out of place, now is the time to find it and fix it.
Behind the Scenes
After Joanna’s vision has come to life, a family will move in and begin living in their dream home. What we don't see is that the stylish furniture that's in place during the filming is often on loan from the Gaines' Magnolia collection, and they can choose what gets replaced with their own belongings.
With websites, we know that there are often some placeholder items (noted as ‘FPO’ or For Placement Only), but that in order for the client to TRULY make the new “home” theirs, they'll need to add their own loved belongings. When Ascedia hands off the completed site to our clients, it's time to enter content. In many cases images and placeholder text are in the content fields. We want to show what the site CAN be, and our clients work with us to write strong content to meld their vision with ours.
The moment we've all been waiting for - Joanna has put her polish on the place, Chip has had fun being goofy and getting the job done, and now the family moves from room to room letting it all soak in. Next up - time to show it off and invite some friends and family over for wine!
When Ascedia launches sites for clients, we understand this is a moment of similar joy for them. Website development projects can be a long process for our stakeholders, and we know that when we hand over the ‘keys,’ they are elated to know the hard work paid off. Take a look around and let it all soak in - you can now "entertain your guests" as your users visit your new site!
Ultimately, home renovation and website design boils down to taking a client's inspiration and using the expertise of seasoned contractors to bring dreams to life. And we hope we find a little shiplap along the way!