Chances are your business depends upon a website. This site might be used for little more than information, or it may be a full-blown eCommerce solution that allows customers to purchase products and services. Or maybe your website is a social network platform or offers news or various types of data.
No matter the purpose, your site is crucial to your business.
Unless you have the budget to afford a website development team, you probably outsource the building and design of that site. And why not? After all, the creation and management of a website require a very specific talent and dedication. If you don’t have those particular traits, you won’t be capable of finding much success with your company website.
So you hand it all off to one of those professionals. At first, the relationship between you and your web developer is outstanding. They seem to get exactly what you’re looking for and, on paper, they deliver. But then you see the beta for the site and it’s nothing like you thought it would be.
What caused the disconnect? How did the developer miss the mark?
You’d be surprised how often this happens. And when it does, you probably wouldn’t be surprised at the level of stress it can cause.
How do you avoid it?
Here are a few tips that can help prevent you from falling into that disconnect between you and your web developer.
Hire the right person for the job
From the outset, you need to know what your expectations are, and if the web designer you’ve hired can meet those expectations. You may have grand designs of an incredibly complex, interactive website in mind, but you’ve hired a developer that doesn’t have the skills to deliver what you want.
You must be up-front about what you’re looking for from the beginning. Don’t just say you’re looking to build a website. That could be anything, and you might wind up with a developer who can only create static pages or pages built from WordPress.
If you’re looking for an offshore web developer, make sure you know the best locations to find one.
Communication is key
The biggest reason that causes issues with website development is lack of communication. You may think you gave your developer all of the details that specifically lay out what you’re looking for, but chances are you probably didn’t. What causes this isn’t so much in the amount and the detail of information, but in how you communicate that information.
Web developers tend to speak a very particular language and sometimes the barrier with that language can cause miscommunication. One way you can avoid this is by giving your developer examples of what you’re looking for. You might like the menu system of one particular website, but the layout of another. If you can cobble together enough of these examples to make it very clear what you’re looking for, you’ll avoid the headache of dealing with a beta site that is simply nothing like you expected.
At the same time, you also need to leave that line of communication open. Your web developer will have questions. If you don’t answer those questions in a timely manner you’ll halt progress in the development of your site.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Hold plenty of upfront meetings
Speaking of communication.
After you’ve hired a developer, and you’ve had plenty of phone calls, you need to move those meetings to either video conferencing or face-to-face. And you need to hold plenty of such meetings. If you can pull it off, schedule weekly meetings, even before the actual development begins.
As you plan out the site together, things will change. You need to be apprised of those changes and you need to keep your developer updated on how your thoughts have evolved. Don’t skimp on these meetings. Even if you only meet for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, you’ll find having these frequent, upfront meetings will go a long way to ensure you both know where the design of the site is heading (and if it’s doing so in the right direction).
You don’t want the developer to start coding your site without both of you being on the same page.
Graphic design vs. web design
Let’s be clear, not all web designers/developers are graphic designers. If you go into this assuming your web developer can create all of your graphics, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. You need to supply the developer with content—not just words, but images. For those images, you either need to have your marketing department create them, or you need to hire an actual graphic designer.
The last thing you want to do is tell your web designer to just use “whatever they can find.” When you do this, a number of problems could arise. First off, your web developer could use images that are protected by copyright laws. That could put you in a world of trouble. Second, you could wind up with images on your site that are either less-than-professional looking or do not reflect your business.
To make this even more confusing, you need to make sure the graphics used for your site are both web and mobile-friendly. If your website doesn’t work well on mobile devices, you’re missing out on a massive market.
Keys to the kingdom
This one is tricky and depends on who is hosting the site. If your developer is also serving as your host, you won’t have to worry about this particular issue. If, however, you’ve procured hosting, outside of your developer, you will need to make sure your developer has the ability to log into your hosting platform and can work without having to depend on you for logging them into the system that will house your website.
Give that developer login credentials for the hosting platform, otherwise, you will be tasked with uploading code, images, and more. Make this process as efficient as possible and give that developer the keys to your web kingdom. Once the site is complete, you can always revoke the developer’s access. If the developer will continue working with the site, you should let them retain access to the hosting server.
This is one major reason you’ll want to make sure and hire a developer you can trust.
There’s no reason for a disconnect to develop between you and your web developer. With the right amount of communication, trust, and skill, the creation and management of your company’s website can be smooth and painless. Be upfront, be honest, and be frequent with your questions and answers. Your web developer will appreciate those efforts and your website will be better for it.