Working Effectively With Your Web Developer

Congratulations! You have not only decided to build/redesign a website, but you have also chosen a web developer to help you make it happen…but don’t sit back and relax just yet. Many business owners are unaware that even basic websites require your input at key junctures. Being prepared, knowing what you want before starting, and effectively communicating your requirements will save time, money and will get the website you want quicker and easier. Here are five things to think about to help you work effectively with your web developer:

1. How involved do you want to be?

Working collaboratively with your web developer can be a creative and productive process. If you intend to be  involved at every stage, be sure to let your developer know so that they are prepared to keep you in the loop and to seek your feedback before proceeding. This, however requires your time, and if you are unable to review the work in a timely manner, you will hold up the process and the launch of your website. If you are extremely busy, be sure to acknowledge it and consider delegating some of the decision-making to some one else, or wait until you have time to give it your full attention.  Otherwise you will be unsatisfied with the product and the time it’s taking to complete it.

2. What is the structure of the site?

Even if you are willing to delegate most website decisions to some one else, there is no getting away from some of the basics, such as the size of the website and how it is organized. These decisions determine how much the website will cost, and how functional it will be. Consider both the information that your visitors will need from you, and the messages that you want to convey to them. Your developer can help you piece this puzzle together and offer helpful suggestions. Ultimately, the message here is that the structure and size must be absolutely clear before proceeding with the site development.

3. Who will prepare the content?

After you have decided on the number of pages and where they go, you will need to start preparing the content. Content includes the text, graphics, video, links and anything else that will go into each page of the website. If it is a new website, content will need to be prepared from scratch. Writing text, shooting and selecting high quality photos or purchasing stock photos, and video production are all tasks that need to be completed in addition to the website itself. Many business owners plan to develop their own content but underestimate the time required to do so. If the content is not ready when the developer has completed the design and the programming, the website launch will be delayed.  Those who are  redesigning an existing website, can recycle all or some of the content from the old one, and make changes later.  Figure out how much of the content you can do yourself  (if that is your plan), and ask your web developer what resources they have at hand to complete the rest for you. Copywriters, photographers, and video producers will all come at an additional cost, but well worth considering if you want a highly polished site.

4. How should the website look and feel?

You should think of your website as your virtual home on the internet. Just as you would hire an architect to design a custom built house that is tailored to your specific needs and desires, your web developer is accomplishing the same task with your website. Inexpensive, template-based websites are available  but they will look like every other website on the internet. A web developer can design a website that  is unique and tailored to your needs.  Part of that tailoring is defining the look and feel of your website so that it makes a good first impression with your visitors. If you already have a ‘look’ reflected in your logo, brochures, storefront and so on, these can form the basis for your website and should all be shared with the person designing the website to determine colours and other design elements. Non-tangibles should be shared as well, for instance, do you want the website to feel whimsical, soothing, or edgy? It often helps to look at and critique 5 or 6 other websites for businesses like yours and share these impressions with your web developer. Communicate features that you like and don’t like about the websites. This will help the designer to get a better sense of the style and image that you prefer.

5. Be open minded and flexible.

Remember that this is a two-way process between you and your web developer. Sometimes problems are encountered that may require giving up some of the features that you would have liked in your website. This can happen for any number of reasons, but they usually involve time, budget or technical constraints. Hopefully these issues would have been identified and addressed when the project was initially being scoped, but occasionally unforeseen circumstances do arise. If they do, then this is when being open minded and flexible becomes important – for both you and your web developer. Chances are that your web developer has already encountered this issue before and has a possible solution for them,  however it may not be the ideal solution. Consider the circumstances and the proposed solution and see if it is workable. Likewise your web developer should be equally open minded and flexible to consider any solutions you may have. Between the two of you you should be able to come up with a remedy that allows the project to move forward.

Following these five tips will go along way to ensure that you have a productive relationship with your web developer. Building or redesigning a website doesn’t need to be a chore, it can be an exciting, creative and enjoyable experience if you are prepared for it.

If you found these tips helpful or have other tips to offer then please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.