Why Web Development Is like Building a House
Build a Better Website!
I'm sharing these ideas because they will help you build a better website. Thinking about web development as a home building project will help you:
- Have the right expectations going into a project
- Deal with the inevitable challenges
- Take the negative emotion out of the project
- Work more effectively as a team
- End up with a better end product
Let's take a look.
1. Don't Bring Your Baggage
Every stakeholder comes to the project with baggage. Mary wants a walk-out basement. Joe wants Flash animation. But if the property is flat as a pancake and the website's purpose is SEO, this particular baggage will clutter up the project before it even starts, and create conflicts that needn't occur.
2. Start with a Blueprint
Nobody would start pouring concrete before looking at a blueprint, but lots of people start designing web pages before doing a site map and a wireframe. A site without a solid foundation will be unstable and unsuccessful, no matter how skilled the workers are.
3. Hire a Tyrant
The last thing you want on a homebuilding project is a touchy-feely project manager: your house will sit roofless and rotting in the rain six months after the promised move-in date. For this reason, whoever is running your web development project should have the grit and determination of a field commander. You may not like him or her every day, but you'll be head over heels in love when your website comes in on time and on budget.
4. Expect Problems
No matter how solid your foundation and skilled your team, there are going to be light switches in the wrong place and air that doesn't circulate properly. Some problems are fixed quickly and others can't be fixed cost effectively at all. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation when building a site, so don't blow a gasket when you realize there are calls to action that visitors can't find and navigation that doesn't flow. Stuff happens.
5. Your Workers Are Only as Good as Their Tools
Would you want your Berber carpet installed with thumbtacks? How about a granite countertop tied to the decking with rubberbands? If this sounds sketchy to you, don't make the same mistake with your website and saddle your team with an outdated CMS (content management system), out of date design software and an unstable development environment.
6. Your Tools Are Only as Good as Your Workers
There's a reason why I don't pound nails: I'm the type of guy who could break two windows and an arm changing a lightbulb. Do your writers understand the fundamentals of web copywriting? Do your designers have a thorough grounding in web design? If not, they may do more harm than good, like yours truly on a home improvement job.
7. Check Your Work
When construction is finished, a final home inspection provides some assurance that the roof won't cave in. A thorough, pre-launch test of your website accomplishes the same thing. It's better to hear that your Contact Us form doesn't work from your inspection team than from a prospect who tried to use it to place an order two months earlier.