Web development is any kind of work that involves creating a website for the internet or an intranet (a private network). It involves many different kinds of work and therefore requires people with multiple skillsets. Web development can include anything from designing web pages, to creating content and graphics, to creating a complex e-commerce platform.
All companies, even those that are not tech companies, need to have a web presence to compete in today’s economy. Here are some things to have in mind when developing a successful online home for yourself or your company.
Web Development Budget
If you have not previously hired someone to create a website, you won’t have a good sense of what it costs. It’s worth keeping in mind that costs are highly variable across developers, and also highly dependant on the features and customizations you have in mind. So what are the sources of development costs and how much should you be willing to pay?
You should set your budget in relation to the revenue of your business. But the proportion of your income that you are willing to spend on web development will depend on the particular characteristics of your business. For example, if your website is an integral aspect of your product, and therefore contributes very directly to income, you will want to spend a higher proportion of your revenue to build and maintain it than if it merely serves as online marketing for an offline product. In addition, the maturity of your business makes a difference. A startup likely would spend a bigger percentage of available funds on its website at the outset. For established business, it’s easier to predict revenue from one year to the next. A good rule of thumb is that an established business for which technology is important should spend 1% of annual revenue for web development.
Once you know your budget, it will be helpful to understand how developers estimate project costs. Some vendors, like Nopio, very methodically go through the project description and plan out what needs to be done for each requested feature. Drawing on our previous experience with similar projects, we can usually achieve cost accuracy to within 10 percent. This process requires a very good understanding of the clients needs at the outset, but it’s a good investment of time for both the client and vendor.
Unfortunately some vendors use a quotation process that has little to do with the actual cost of a project. They will guess how much they think the client is willing to pay and base their quote on that number. This will allow them to quickly deliver an estimate, but because they don’t have a good idea of costs their estimate will contain a lot of padding to make sure they earn a profit.
Changes Are Expensive
If you have any experience working with web developers, you know by now that it’s important to have a very specific idea of what you want the results to be before you start. More often than not, if you go into a project without a very clear idea of the end state you desire, additional and costly re-work will be required.
Managing re-work can be tricky, time consuming and cost inefficient. This is why it’s important to ask for mock designs before you begin. The cost of a development project can escalate as the project progresses if there are too many changes. To avoid cost overruns, don’t spend too much time perfecting any single aspect of the project. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good,” unless time and cost is not a factor.
The day you launch your site is probably the most important day of your entire project. Launch day can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be if you consider these tips:
- Start with a “coming soon” screen that you can use to briefly explain your business and to gather the email addresses of potential customers.
- Soft-launch the site for friends, employees and a few chosen customers. All parties should be aware the they are operating on an unfinished product.
- At first, launch only the core feature of the planned system. When you are sure everything works okay, follow up with additional features. This will also allow you to keep users interested by regularly releasing new features.
Manpower and Skills
In addition to time and money, skilled employees are also a scarce resource, and a critically important one. Time won’t be effectively managed if you don’t have the right people. Budget won’t be kept intact if your employees are not skilled enough to execute required tasks. Therefore, it’s critical that you hire the team that is best suited for your needs. Take care to design an effective interview process. The best way to build a successful website is to hire a great and passionate team.
Building a modern website is only the beginning. In most cases websites require at least periodic maintenance work to make sure they are up to date and secure. When hiring a team, don’t forget to negotiate the terms of post-launch maintenance. It’s not uncommon for companies to offer better pricing for customers who are seeking a long-term arrangement, as Nopio does.
A good website is a must-have for any company, there’s no way around it. So keep these issues in mind as you begin your development project, and let us know what additional issues you encounter by commenting below or tweeting us @nopiocom.