It’s a massive understatement to say that the internet has revolutionized communication. From expanded reach to lightning-fast sharing, nearly every aspect of how we connect to other people has been impacted. The tools we use to build those connections have changed almost as dramatically. It’s becoming easier and easier for just about anyone to create their own website, for any number of purposes.
Contemplating all the possibilities can be pretty overwhelming. Whether it’s your first website or your fifth rebuild, creating something new for the web can be very exciting! The payoff that comes at the end of a job is one of my favorite things about the work I do. But a lot can happen between start and finish, and the path can get rocky without proper planning. Here are a few of my suggestions for making the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Begin With The End In Mind
Some people make a decision about a new website very quickly, almost spur-of-the-moment. Others deliberate about it for months, or even years, before taking the leap. In either case, the decision-making process can distract you from your actual purpose for building your website in the first place. When we meet with potential clients, particularly if they don’t have a website yet, we always ask them to tell us about their business or idea. If you don’t have a concise answer for an opening question like that, you might want to press pause until you do. And when you have that vision at the ready, write it down. Put it up somewhere in your office. Give yourself a clear vision of what you want, and don’t let yourself get distracted by the minutiae of the work it takes to make that vision happen.
For some clients, we can build a simple website in as little as a day. Those client have needs which are usually simple: a couple of pages describing who they are and what they do, and enough images to make it look interesting. They’re not selling anything online, and they might not even be engaging in two-way communication at all.
Most of our clients need a lot more than that. They may:
- have years of blog content that needs to be reworked
- need photos taken of new personnel or a new space
- be integrating social content more deeply
- be selling physical or digital products, either exclusively online or in tandem with a physical shop
These needs, by necessity, take a lot more time to build. Expecting a fully-functioning e-commerce site with dozens of products within the same timeframe as a simple two- or three-page brochure-style website is just not realistic. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to building a new website. That’s why developers want to know everything about you first, and then work with you to lay out a time frame that is reasonable and realistic.
It’s not just a mantra for scouting! The more prepared you are at the beginning of this process, the more enjoyable it will be. We’re your guides in establishing solid communication with your audience; in fact, we’re potentially the first to even see the message you’ve crafted. You’ll get the best results when you come to us with everything you need to tell your story well. Can you describe yourself accurately? Can you represent yourself visually? The developer you choose can help with these, of course, but you can’t cook a feast in an empty kitchen. Having an abundance of text and images at the start of the project gives us plenty to work with while crafting your digital presence.
Stay In Contact
Remember that a single item on your to-do list–like “get a new website”–doesn’t look the same on your list as it does on ours. Web developers have a fine-tuned and highly-detailed process they follow so that you don’t have to. On occasion, however, they do need to let you peek behind the curtain a bit. A question that for you might seem trivial or even rhetorical can directly impact both the pace of the process and the final product itself. We consider ourselves partners with our clients as we create this new product, and partners stay in contact.
“Done is better than perfect.”
The fact is, sometimes outside factors come into play with a site build. There may be a hard external deadline by which a website needs to be launched. A critical member of your team may get pulled away to another task at an inopportune time. Shifts in the business or in the outside market may change your needs in terms of what the site needs to be able to do. When that happens, it’s best to remember that unlike a physical print product, a website can be a kind of living document. It is possible to make changes and updates to a mostly-completed website almost in the blink of an eye. I would never recommend beginning a project this way. But in some cases, it really is better to have at least an improved website out there in the world, even if it’s not perfect.
At ThirdSide, we often compare the process of building a website to the process of building a house. In either case, good communication is an essential component leading to a successful outcome. The more detailed your expectations are, and the more materials we have to work with, the more likely that the finished product will meet and even exceed your expectations.