It might seem pretty straightforward to prepare for a web development project. You know what your company sells or promotes. You know that you need a beautiful website to ultimately accomplish those goals. How hard can that be?
The reality is there are a few things to consider internally before you meet with your web developer and marketing team for the first time. Knowing the answers to these questions will help your project run smoothly from start to finish.
What Are The Goals Of Your Web Development Project?
This seems like an easy one at first glance. The general goal of your website is probably to get sales, gather emails, or increase attendance/participation at your institution/event. But there’s a little more to it than that. To make sure your website is both beautiful and functional, we’ll need to think a little deeper about how to turn your website’s visitors into converted customers.
Some things to consider are:
- Who is your audience and how will they use your site? If most of your traffic comes from mobile sources, for example, you’ll need a different strategy than if most people are using your site from their desktop browsers.
- What is the main action you want your audience to take when they reach your site? Should they sign up for your newsletter? Look at your product inventory? Read a blog post? Once you’ve pinpointed this action it’s easier to strategize how people should navigate your new website.
Developing goals that are specific to your website will help your web development team craft a site that is perfectly tailored to your business. At Knectar, we offer consulting and web strategy services to help teams figure out the answers to these questions.
What Features Are Priorities And What Are Wish List Items?
As you think about your goals for the site, you should also start to think about what features are critical for launch and which can be held for post-launch updates (we recommend batched, monthly post-launch releases).
Start thinking about what kind of content types are must-haves. Do you need a blog? An event calendar? Think about any other aspects of functionality your site might need. Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated? Do you need a portfolio slideshow to function in a specific manner?
Once you have your list created, start asking yourself: Do we need this right now? If you want a fancy, styled blog on your site, for instance, do you have the resources to keep it up to date? Or would it be better left for six-months from now when your company has more resources available?
Once you have your list of needs prioritized, your web developer will help you assess your wants and will let you know the feasibility of each item. There may be items at the bottom of your list that are so easy to accomplish they can be added in the first release. One of your top-listed features might require a huge time and financial investment. If that’s the case, your team can help you strategize a plan that will either achieve that feature within the proposed budget – potentially delaying other items on the list – or offer alternatives that will be a better fit for the project.
The bottom line is: when what is desired of the website is known from the beginning, we’re able to provide you with the most accurate project estimate and timeline.
What Are The Expectations Of Your Company’s Decision-Makers?
Often the team members who are in charge of a website redesign project are not the ultimate decision-makers for their company. Sometimes, teams are tasked with getting the ball rolling on a website, but they didn’t get clear instructions from the higher ups about what the end result of the website should be.
Some questions to think about asking before meeting with a web developer are:
- Is your boss only expecting a new visual design for the website or is he also expecting new, SEO-friendly content?
- Does she have a specific date in mind for when the website needs to be finished? Does it need to coincide with a project launch or an important holiday?
- Are there aspects of the project that can be held until a future release date?
- Who is allowed to sign-off and OK design decisions?
- Who is allowed to sign-off on the use of a contingency budget, if needed, to keep the project moving?
While you may be tasked with leading the project, your boss will probably want to be in the loop at critical moments of design and development. Setting your manager’s expectations with your web development company before undertaking a project will both help the development team plan your project better and it will allow you to set up a safety net of check-ins and updates for your boss.
What Is Your Budget Right Now And What Can It Be In The Future?
This one may seem obvious, but many times, a client’s idea of what their budget should produce is not in alignment with what a web development company can actually achieve for that dollar amount. Custom design and development work may not be ideal if your budget is very limited, but an off-the-shelf option, like WordPress with a pre-built theme, could be your solution. There are many ways you can spend a tight budget and walk away with an awesome website. The key is to know your financial reach and a solid development shop will help you think strategically about how to best spend that money on your website.
In addition, try to think a little further ahead with your budget. Maybe you have a certain amount available to spend right now. What about in six months? A year? If you know you’ll have more funds available at a later date, your web developer can help you figure out what is the right feature to invest in now and what can be held for a later iteration of the site. At Knectar, we help our clients spread out the cost of continuing site work over the course of the year with maintenance and support contracts. These contracts allow us to run routine website maintenance on the site as well as add in additional features that the first build’s scope did not encompass.
Let Us Help You Answer These Questions!
Tell us a little bit about your project and a Knectar Team Member will be in touch to help get your web development project off the ground!