If you’re about to start a web development project, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the number of options and much of the jargon that seems to make everything more complicated.
A clear path will help you develop your project well. In this blog, we’ll discuss ten of the most important considerations when you’re about to start a web development project. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a sense of what needs to be done to create a great website.
Table of Contents
Let’s dive right in.
1. Define a budget
Starting with your budget considerations is key simply because you can spend almost any amount on a website. Some developers will charge you $3,000. Others will charge over $100,000. Knowing what you can spend will help you stay in the right range with the right level of developers.
One important consideration is to avoid spending too little. Your website is your face to the world. With over 90% of all purchases starting as internet searches, your website is the first impression most of your customers will have of your business. Spend as much as you can on it. This is one area where cheaper is definitely not better, but the most expensive is also no guarantee of success.
2. Set clear goals
Start by knowing what you want your website to accomplish for you. Do you want to make sales directly through the site? Do you need people to book appointments? Do you want to buil a site that creates brand familiarity?
Your goals for your website will define its appearance, how it’s used, and even who you choose to develop the site. As this blog from Mozilla mentions, a website designed to help you find a new boyfriend or girlfriend will be very different from a site that teaches music using videos.
3. Decide your preferred development approach
There are two primary web development approaches: waterfall or agile.
Waterfall development is the standard step-by-step process from planning a software development template to launch to support with a few additional steps. It goes A-B-C, etc. The advantage of this type of development is that you know what to expect after each step is completed. The downside is that it takes a while and it might not deliver what you want when the site is launched.
According to Liventus, an agile approach conveys several benefits. Agile starts by running several steps at once, including research and support. This leads to a cycle with five steps that are repeated: wireframing, design, prototyping, development, and quality assurance. With agile development, a product is launched before it’s “complete”, allowing for changes along the way. In sum, this method creates a cycle of continuous development.
The greatest advantage to agile development is that the product is launched much sooner. More features are added along the way. The waiting period for the product to achieve a useful and tested minimum product is far shorter than when using the waterfall method.
4. Choose the right partner
Your web development partner is the single most important decision you’ll make as part of this process. This is the company that will build your business’s face to the world.
It’s important that you approach this process with all the seriousness it deserves.
- Set your budget; it should be reasonable; too low and you’re guaranteed a bad website
- Set goals for what you want your web assets to do for you
- Evaluate potential candidates’ experience
- Look both locally and nationally for the firm that best fits your needs
- Ask many questions and look for complete answers
- Make sure you have the open communication channels you will need
Please read our blog, “5 Custom Web Development Questions, Answered” <link>, for more on how to choose a partner.
5. Consider your audience
Everything you do should be geared toward your specific audience. It’s vital that you understand who your audience is, what their priorities are, and how they want to communicate.
A website built for quilters will look very different from one designed for video game players.
An in-depth study of your audience, their needs and wants, and their pain points should be the guiding principle of every decision made about your website.
6. Put content first
Too often, fancy layouts and designs are presented at the start of a web development project. That’s because this is what your web development partner is comfortable doing.
The most important part, though, is content. If you don’t have the right content, Google can never find your website and your visitors will not understand what you do.
Content–words and images–are the key to a successful website. No matter how many bells and whistles your website has, with bad or no content, it’s just a fun design.
7. Stick with the standards
You should nofollow the conventions of web design. If your partner wants to put your shopping cart function on the lower left, you need to find a new partner. Customers look for their shopping cart in the upper right because that’s where it is on nearly every website.
As Blogspot put it, “A big challenge in web design is balancing originality with your expectations. Most of us are expert internet users, and there are specific conventions we’ve grown accustomed to over time.” Skipping these conventions, failing to recognize the standards your users are accustomed to seeing, is a mistake, according to the blog.
You may not like those types of standards, such as placing the menu at the top of the page, but if you change them too much, your visitors will get lost and simply leave.
8. Keep it simple
At one point, it was all the rage for people who were developing their own website to create a cursor that sparkled or had a fun little trail behind it. It was annoying and detracted from the website. Thankfully, this trend died quickly.
Keep your website simple. Have as few pages as possible. Don’t add a lot of flashing graphics or too many strange functions.
9. Include social media
Make social media a part of every page of your website. Make pages easy to share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. Include feeds from those platforms on your site so people can see what else you are doing.
Social media is the great link to the world. Be sure to include it on your site as often as possible.
10. Test, test, test
Constantly run usability tests. With every new feature and every update, even if you only added a new image, test your website to make sure it looks good and functions well.
Everything you do needs to be tested all the time. This will include some tests with actual users. Let members of your audience play with the website and give you their feedback.
Starting a Web Development Project
If you start your project with the right audience in mind, the right goals, and the right partner, you should quickly have a great web asset to share with the world.
Don’t expect perfection right out of the gate. Expect that you will need to make changes and improvements for months or years. That’s part of the fun of having a really great website.