- Oct 25, 2017
- By Andrew Rogers
- In Website Design and SEO
Accurately Assess the Scope of a Web Project with Our Guide
Do you have a business website yet? If so, what results are you seeing from it?
Is your business portal handling the traffic well? Are you getting a lot of visitors, but realizing fewer sales than you’d like? Are your sales growing, or could a redesign help you to draw more customers in and keep them coming back?
If the time has come to refresh your business website or to rebuild it to fit your company’s anticipated growth, you need to know how to accurately predict how much time it will take, and how to figure up a realistic budget for getting the job done right.
It’s ok. Relax. Breathe. That’s what we’re here to help you do.
Today, we’ll walk you through the 3 types of web development projects that businesses like yours commonly need.
Then, we’ll help you develop the criteria you can use to assess your needs and develop a realistic, affordable web marketing strategy.
When we’re talking about “web development,” what do we really mean?
This all depends on which stage of the game your business is in. Let’s start, as the song goes, at the very beginning.
You either haven’t yet built a web portal for your young business, or results from your current website aren’t meeting your expectations, so you’ve decided to demolish it and start over.
The former case is certainly more optimal. Either way, the best news is that you’re unencumbered. You have the opportunity to stretch your imagination.
If you’re in the creation stage, your most important responsibilities are to develop — and clearly communicate to your web development team — the following insights:
- Your customers’ desires.
- Your customers’ motivations and pain points. Why do they click “buy?” What discourages them from doing so?
- Your business needs (e.g., what do you want your customers to do?) and pain points.
Many business stakeholders know they need a better online presence, but they enter the web development process without those critical answers. Without them, you’d be setting yourself up to fail.
By way of analogy, if you were an architect and designing a house, you wouldn’t draw up blueprints without asking its future residents what they want it to feature and looking around at the rest of the neighborhood, right?
And you wouldn’t start building without having completed a survey of the land and a soil study, studying the local climate, identifying the underground utility lines, and obtaining the necessary permits, correct?
You have a website, but your business is growing or changing enough that you need to make some structural changes to it.
We’re not talking about slapping a new coat of paint on the walls and laying down carpet, here: we’re talking about ripping out a wall or two, changing the flow of traffic, and using your digital real estate differently.
So, again, you need to know the same things going in that we listed under “Creation.” But you’ll need to be aware of the following:
To what degree is your current web portal not meeting the mark, and how could it? This will require a bit of abstraction, so you’ll want your company’s best critical thinkers to work on it with the web development team.
What’s the future look like? Don’t remodel based on today’s standards. Remodel based on what will be going on for the next few years or so.
You have a website, and it’s working well for the most part. But something’s off. It’s not as efficient as it could be. It’s not attracting as many customers as it could. You’re due for a brand refresh, or you want to tweak some of the functionality based on customer feedback.
OK, playing out our house-building analogy, we really are talking about a redecorating scenario.
But, instead of needing to know less than you would in the other scenarios, you paradoxically need to know more. You need to answer all those questions above, then drill down even further. What are your customers’ granular preferences, viz-a-viz:
- UX. Do you get traffic to a certain point, but then see people ducking out of the purchase process? Where and why are they moving on?
- Content. Do they respond more to short vids? Pictures? Reviews? Games?
- Visual branding. Which layouts, images, color palettes, fonts, etc., have your customers demonstrated preferences for?
- Branding voice. Do your customers respond to copy that is polished and professional? Technical? Casual? Whimsical? Irreverent? Talk to people in their language.
- Choice. What’s worked in the past? What didn’t work? What segmented experiments could you run? When have you offered them too few choices? Too many? Do you need to change the way or order in which you present them with choices?
Are you thinking, “Well, that was a bit more complicated than I thought it would be?”
Good! That’s good! You might not believe it right now, but you’ll understand the need for all that on the back end of your web development project.
Now that you know what questions you’ll need to answer, let’s list out the criteria you’ll need to use to answer them. Here are the major areas you’ll need to consider.
What do your customers prefer, and how do those preferences match up with your company’s existing or refreshed branding?
Design and coding
Are the changes or designs you want even possible? Your company’s best critical thinkers were needed before; here’s the point where its best technical minds can shine.
When it comes to getting found, you’re not just up against the competition. You’re facing off with . . . THE ALGORITHM (dun-Dunnn-DUNNNNN)!
Before you get into a situation, you’ll need to think about things like SEO, inbound blogging, tagging, metadata (and organizing it), alt text, embedded links, thought leadership . . . Oh, the horror. The. Horror.
You know what you want from your web portal and how you could do it. Now, can you afford the project? Can you afford not to undertake it? Can it be streamlined? Should it be streamlined? Should it be expanded?
OK, now we want to gather those wonderful, liberal arts-trained thinkers, your brilliant AV geeks from down the hall and your most gifted, emotionally-intuitive salespeople – people who are so in tune with your customers, they can practically read their minds.
Stick ‘em in a room together with a whiteboard, some fidget tchotchkes and yummy carryout from Everyone’s Favorite Restaurant®.
Tell them to send up smoke when they’ve figured out how the heck customers want to/should/will navigate this thing.
How’s this fitting in with your overall visibility and branding strategy? Do you really need a website redesign, or should we really be talking about redesigning your content?
Will this divert marketing resources that you should be allotting elsewhere? Is a rebuild or refresh going to require extended downtime that could hurt your brand’s visibility?
Sales and logistics
What back-end functionality will you need to take the orders from customers and get your goods or services moving to the people who need them?
How will the new, redesigned, or optimized site interface with your CRM? Will you need a new CRM? Patches are notoriously buggy; do everything you can to avoid having to resort to them.
There are plenty of bad actors out there. Some of them want to profit or extort. Some of them just want to sow chaos and watch the world burn.
These days, no business is too small to fly under hackers’ radar. They want your data. They want your customers’ data. And, whoever they are, you need to keep them out.
During the entire course of your company’s web development project, keep security concerns at the forefront of all your thoughts and discussions. Build your portal to be as seamless and secure as possible (this is another reason to avoid patches — remember, every patch is a potential weak point in your cyber-defenses).
Need more detailed guidance?
We have your back. And we have the expertise you need to make your web development project an unqualified success.
We’ll consult with you as you research and assess your portal needs. We’ll help you to navigate the development process. We’ll strategize with you. And we’ll help you create engaging, effective content that will propel your sales.
Ready? Let’s go.