So You Want A Website… A Starter Guide to Web Development Part 1

You've got a fantastic product or service, your business is strong and it’s time to step up your online presence. Where do you start? Web development constitutes a wide range of factors to consider. In my next few posts, I’d like to talk about the process of web development from start to finish. It’s a limitless world, and sometimes without a clear vision it’s easy to get lost. After all, the name of the game is always making the best use of your resources and time.  Whether you’re getting online for the first time or looking to upgrade your current setup, these tips will help you achieve maximum results!

What Do You Need?

Step 1- Write a wish list of every feature and design element you would have on your dream website. Let your imagination go crazy!

My advice is to think big, then scale down. Brainstorming is crucial in this step, as you want to think not only about what information you’d like to put out there, but also the marketing and growth of the website's development over time. Letting your designer know where you hope to be as a business 1-3 years from now is incredibly important.

Even if you’re not ready to add in the coolest new features and want to stay simple for now, keep those ideas in mind so the site can be designed and built for easy additions down the road. Start-up companies may not have a full social media marketing program in place, but they’re going to want to eventually. Having a site that can expand to your future goals means when you’re ready, all you have to worry about is paying for updates instead of a complete redesign.

Manage Your Expectations

Step 2 – Take your wish list, reign it in and decide what is most important to fit your budget.

Unless money is no object, you’ll want to step back from your wish list and think realistically. The beauty of web development is that pretty much anything you can imagine is possible. The downside, not everything is budget friendly. Too often, I hear business owners wanting extremely customized features heavy on programming but can’t afford the cost involved. Decide what the most important features are for you right this moment, and back-burner the rest.

While you may want all the bells and whistles that can jump through hoops and be everything to everyone, it’s not always realistic. Managing your expectations and being open to alternatives your designer may recommend is how you get the most bang for your buck. If cost is a factor, there are two options. Again, it’s okay to start small! If you choose a platform that can expand, you can build your site in stages while you wait for that cash flow. Add in the blog later, wait on the newsletter.

If your core information/content is in place, additions can always be made. The other option for the more complicated sites that may never see a budget increase is to simply take a step back. For example, an e-commerce company may want a system with wishlists, product reviews, integrated payment gateways, multiple domains, product of the month club, etc – talk about feature heavy! Sometimes the best approach is accepting alternatives that may lower costs, but lose some of the slick appeal. It’s about weighing your web development options because unfortunately, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Don’t let this scare you! For every major request we’ve heard, there is always a less expensive option that can still satisfy your needs.

Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll dive into domains, hosting, and design!