So you think you’re ready to start your website project?
Now, I can see how you might think I’m coming at this challenge through my own narrow filter. Web developer working with business owners who want new websites.
I totally understand. My experience of website projects is different to the business owners we work with.
Every day, we’re on the job, moving things on the website project through from concept to completion. We live and breathe this stuff. The business owner who’s updating their existing website? Well, it’s just not the same.
Maybe it’s been three, five or ten years since they last went down the website project road. In the world of website development, that’s a long time.
With the lightning speed of change in anything tech related, it’s no surprise doing website projects now is vastly different to what it was.
Creating a new website – whether it’s an upgrade, update, or a whole new site to get up and out there – is a big job. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned: most people underestimate just how big.
Want hot insider tips that make for an enjoyable website project experience and a high performing website you love?
Share the details (a.k.a. the best website projects have input from you)
Stating the obvious? Maybe, but this one is so often overlooked, we thought it just had to be mentioned.
Let me put it this way. If you’re about to do a major renovation at home, do you simply leave the builder to ‘do his thing’ and show up at the end when it’s all completed (perfectly and without a hitch, of course?).
You’ve probably scoured through Pinterest, Instagram, home reno blogger sites, bought magazines, visited Bunnings, and consulted with your five best friends about what to do with the new look for your home.
My point is, you’ve taken time to work out what you like and don’t like, what will fit with your lifestyle, family, and budget. Go you. It’s an important decision and you want to get it right.
Building a new website is a lot like that reno. An update for your business ‘shopfront’, it needs your input. It will come as no surprise to you to discover web developers are not mind readers. They might bring their best thinking and creativity to your project, however for the best outcome, you’re in this thing (your website project) together.
Your job? Bring the detail.
- Have you seen sites you like? What don’t you want on your website?
- Are there things your website absolutely must do? Does it need forms that capture information? What kind?
- Is there functionality on your existing site which needs a reboot?
- What sort of images do you like? Fonts? Colours? Will you use video?
Will I go on?
Well in advance of the first meeting with your web developer, it’s a good idea to gather your thoughts. For the highly motivated, you might even prepare a brief. With the end goal being a great looking, high performing website, a project brief can help start the conversation around what you’d really love. Not sure of what to write? Find a web developer with their own project format and start there.
The hot tip here? Provide details – and lots of them.
Have a plan (failing to plan is long way to a website project that doesn’t end)
I mentioned writing things down is a good place to start with your website project. Once you’re clear on the details, it’s time to start planning.
Why is that?
My answer here is really simple. You need a plan for how you’ll get this thing done. Yes, it’s true your web developer will be on the job, but you need a plan too.
On top of all your regular business, it’s essential you plan how you’ll factor in the additional work required to do the project. Here are just a few things that should be factored into your plan.
- Written content and reviews.
- Video content (branding videos, product descriptions, testimonials).
- Visual content (images, icons, graphics).
- Audio content (recordings).
- Design reviews.
- SEO work.
- Internal approvals.
And that’s just for starters.
What I notice is most business people try to fit their website project around everything else they’re doing. I totally understand. When this happens, more often than not, they feel disappointed. Their project goes off track, they lose interest, momentum, and enthusiasm for something that started so well. The best results are achieved when a concerted effort is made by the business owner to invest the time, effort, and creativity at the right time – before the website project has started.
Just as I said earlier, you wouldn’t approach a house renovation this way, so why would you approach your prime online real estate with any less care? Your website is usually the first contact a potential customer has with you; don’t waste the opportunity.
My tip? Planning upfront is much easier than correcting mistakes after the job’s done. Make the time to do it.
Prepare your website project content (don’t wait for it to fall in your lap)
Again I could be accused of stating the obvious here, but I’m prepared to go out on a limb for the sake of all great websites.
It seems many people believe their involvement in website development starts and stops with engaging their web developer.
Not only is this a fantasy, it’s also the fast track to missing out on the website of your dreams.
In an ideal world, by the time you’re ready to engage a web developer, you’ll have already done a tonne of work like the kind I outlined above. Your main focus? The big ‘C’. That’s right, content. And you can only write content when you’re really clear about your business – what it does now and where you want to take it. Surprisingly, when it comes to putting a hard line in the sand, a good proportion of business owners struggle with this. Under the pressure of having to be definitive about what they do, they do nothing at all.
So here’s one thing to remember about content: it takes time. Some people are great at doing their own, but most people benefit from outside help. When it comes to written content, it’s a good idea to find a content writer who can help you say what you’d love to say, if only you knew how.
For audio and video content, as well as visual content, like images, icons and graphics, look for professionals who can add value to your project. Can your videographer do photography as well? Does your branding need a revamp? Work with an experienced and creative graphic designer. Wherever possible, work with the best resources within your budget. While no one content element can make or break a project, when creatively combined, the outcome can be outstanding, turning clicks into conversions.
One final point on being content-ready. Expect your website project to slow right down, maybe even stall completely, if you don’t have it in good shape to hand over at the right time in the web development process. Your web developer might be itching to put it altogether for you, but their hands are tied without the ‘good oil’ from you.
Final tip? Make quality content a priority.