Dave and I both love to start coding/developing with a blank page, but most businesses need a faster lower-cost solution. For simple websites, we could do what others do in the commoditised space and populate a template. But that wouldn’t satisfy our market. Our clients tend to want something unique that communicates brand value. They don’t want something that looks the same as 5,000 other websites out there. From a marketing perspective perception is everything; if you get that wrong it doesn’t matter what the quality of the product is you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. Most of our clients see their website as a critical interface between them, their stakeholders, and their future customers. Consequently, they want a much deeper level of quality. And that’s what makes this job so fulfilling.
We have a couple of bespoke development projects running at the moment, but the majority of our projects will use a tested platform like Craft or WordPress where we use our development skills to give the client what they want but underpinned by a tried and tested CMS. And of course, as Developers to reach the final product, it’s unlikely that we’ll work in isolation: it’s usually a team approach with a designer and a marketer as key members of the team.
Here are four key tips to getting the website project you want delivered to meet your expectations. They apply to all website projects but are more significant for businesses with high expectations of what their project should deliver.
It’s essential to start with the best plan you can create. Your developer can build a plan for you if you prefer. Before you speak to your developer know what you want your website to do; have an idea of how you would like it to look (think of sites that inspire you); have at least an overview of what content you want it to contain, and think about what functionality is key to allowing your website to meet your goals. Then make sure you see a plan before the actual build process begins.
2) Daily Use and Support
Know how you are going to support the site once it’s up and running in terms of changing content and maintaining it. It’s relatively straight forwards these days to use a Content Management System to keep your content up to date. But like many other technical requirements if you aren’t using the system regularly it’s easy to forget how to do even the simplest of things. Check out what training you can get or what support is going to be available. Ideally, you want to know that your developer is going to be around in future to help out. And remember, highly complex bespoke functionality can pose challenges in terms of future maintenance requirements. It may be worth using something that has a community of developers available like Craft or WordPress for these kinds of tasks. If it’s a complex project with a lot of functionality you are probably going to want some kind of ‘bubble support’ during the first few weeks of use.
3) Performance Metrics and Content
It doesn’t matter how good a website looks, if a prospective customer gets bored waiting for it to load, chances are they will leave. Recent studies have shown that over 53% of users on mobile devices will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load – so it had better be fast! Similarly, if they have to work too hard to understand what you do or how you can help, then studies such as the one carried out by Time.com suggest that they will leave within 15 seconds. With page load time a major ranking factor you really need to talk to your developer about appropriate performance metrics and about delivering the right content. If you are going to write your own content it might pay to get some professional advice on that too.
4) Getting Found and Getting Ranked
It may seem self-evident, but your site has to be indexed by the search engines in order to be found. Then the structure and content need to be optimised to achieve higher rankings and to attract organic visitors. But just doing that alone is unlikely to be enough in most markets. You may want to consider making budget provisions for post-go-live SEO work such as attracting natural inbound links and syndicating your content out to a wider audience. These activities will help you achieve the coveted top spot and drive organic traffic to your site. It pays to be dealing with someone who is either expert in this field or who knows enough to achieve an acceptable base level of success. Ask for examples of other sites they have done and look at the ranking for those sites.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you choose a reliable company all of these things are part of the process and they will guide you through what needs to be done to turn your expectations into a successful project outcome.