How much is that website in the window? ? The one with the waggly tail ?
Posted By Andy Smith
Window shopping for a website provider is never going to be an easy task. There are a lot of agencies out there with pretty portfolios, but often the criteria for decision making is too transactional in nature.
When people ask me, ‘how much does a new website cost?’ it is never a straight forward question to answer. A standard approach is to look at the website that already exists and roughly estimate how much it would be to re-create it. The trouble with this approach is that it presumes building a new website is a standalone project, with the sole purpose of delivering you a shinier version of your existing website. In reality, creating an online presence is a continual process that needs ongoing investment to ensure it is truly fit for purpose.
Here are just some of the points to consider when looking to overhaul your website:
1. Business strategy
Web presences evolve over time – they have to in order to survive. Therefore, you need to have an idea of the value of a website in the context of your wider business strategy. If you don’t have a strategy, what are you doing? Get one! We can help with that.
Without a strategy you will be hard-pressed to identify your objectives for the site.
2. Know your user(s)
In order to get the best bang for your buck, we need to know what to build. Websites come with preconceptions about what they should do and it is these that we should challenge to avoid costly mistakes.
We do this by starting and continuing in the context of the users’ needs. Users can be your customers, your future colleagues, even your stakeholders. They have thoughts, feelings – you may know them, I sincerely hope you do, if not, get to know them! We can help with that too.
Every decision we make during the process will be from the users’ point of view – every request made for functionality will be interrogated by the value users get from it. ‘We want an interactive company timeline showing the exact moment and context in which Angela was promoted from PA to Operations, this is a mandatory requirement’. Nope; it’s probably not. Whilst we value Angela as much as the next person, an expensive interactive timeline may not be the best way to show it.
3. Process and progress
As the website build progresses, then communication is key amongst the delivery team. Our website build process ‘rapids’ is built on the principle of teamwork. Even if every team member isn’t working on the project simultaneously, they are aware of what is being done, what we did before, and what we should do next.
You are a team member, if you want to be. As our partner in the project, we’d like you to be a part of every decision, but also have us so engrained in the business and product that as ambassadors we can make decisions confidently without our hands being held.
There are a number of tools which can assist in this process and a few are listed here:
- Airtable: For project planning and tracking
- Invision: For interactive design and rapid prototyping
- Trackduck: For front-end testing and feedback
We like to use a combination of these tools to provide clients with access to concepts and staging sites, so that they can make informed decisions based on realistic representations of the final site.
4. Fail fast and future-proof
Failure is not an option, it is a certainty in life. Technology changes, businesses change, we all change and these are the things that are going to cause a system to fail. We can put plans in place by monitoring the website’s performance and continually assessing the needs of our users. By analysing the data in various forms we can help guide you towards the next mini evolution or revolution of the website.
This is the beauty of digital, but it is also one of the key reasons why website development requires an ongoing budget and not just a one-off investment.
So, how much is that website in the window? Just remember it could be the tail wagging the dog.
Image courtesy of r/HistoryPorn – Front window of a computer store in West Germany, 1984