Your Web Developer’s Need to Know Basis

When you arrive at an attorney's office, finally convinced that you need an estate plan (bunch of documents saying who should inherit what assets), it's tempting to wonder why the attorney has not read your mind.

“Of course I need a clause in there to keep Aunt Matilda from getting her hands on the silver”, you think, “what am I paying you for?” If you haven't told your attorney this important information, there will be revisions. Then you may wonder why a ‘simple change' can cost so much. The same happens with weddings, where the bride thinks that the cake designer should know that she wants chocolate with buttercream frosting, the coordinator should magically transport the flower girl at the perfect moment, and everything should run smoothly. It will, if a lot of questions are asked up front – and answered.

Web design is no different. A quality website requires lists of back-end effort before it ever looks all smooth and shiny as an end product.

Here are some things that you should consider developing before contacting your web developer:

  • Final written content – Bio's of team members, the company vision, testimonials from satisfied clients, new products or services, blogposts
  • Images and video – Branding assets, virtual tours, team member photos, group and location shots
  • Contact information – Address, phone number, fax number, primary email address, social media accounts
  • Budget – Your estimated budget for each service or phase rendered
  • Target market – The demographic, companies or individuals you would like to target throughout your digital marketing
  • Deadline – If you have a specific deadline or campaign you would like to launch before

That's really just the beginning. Afterward, there are things that people often prefer, and automatically assume that their web developer will be able to produce:

  • Interactive Features – Shopping cart, auto responders, call-to-action pages
  • Marketing Additives – Pay-per-click, SEO, on-site analytics reporting
  • Design – Email marketing templates, customized logo, campaign samples
  • Website Goals – Online brochure vs sales lead funnel, hub for social media vs starting point for microsites
  • Appearance – Existing vs new branding, color scheme, good vs bad examples of competitor websites
  • Navigation – Left vs right side alignment, full screen vs limited screen size
  • Techie details – Domain registration, hosting options, browser support, mobile marketing plug-ins
  • Monetization – Google ads, paid subscription vs free access to content
  • Legal – Copyrights, documentation, audits, security features, written permissions for third-party photos

Web Use Versus Expertise

Everyone uses websites, but the ones that work really well are those that seem easy to move through – even if you're not sure why. Web developers have to think through what will satisfy their clients, help customers to move through the site more easily, and satisfy the current standards of what is valid and what isn't.

Speed and Accuracy are Key

Even if you're a raving fan of a product or service, issues with JavaScript, constant HTML error messages from your web browser, or finding a link that won't launch are surefire ways to lose people's attention. There's no point in having a website, if people can't use it, or the interactive forms never work.

Making the Site a Smooth Ride

Think about the last time that you were irritated because it was hard to find the contact page, the links didn't open in separate browser windows, or you couldn't scroll down the screen because the website took up the whole screen. Ever had to search for a search bar that wouldn't appear, or wonder why the speed is set so fast on auto scrolling screens – so the information was flashing by? Mashable's “Top 10 Reasons Why Your Website Is Losing Sales” mentioned that 8 million pounds (over $12.5 million) are annually lost by UK retailer websites because of “inefficiencies” in site functionality, website speed, navigation, and video. Putting your web developer in the ‘need to know' category, and giving them everything they need to do proper web design, can smooth the road so that these things don't happen.