You haven't developed a website before, so it stands to reason that you might have some misconceptions about the website development process. When considering a website redesign, you might consider in-house or outsourced options.
Let's address a few common misconceptions to help you avoid derailing your website development project.
1. You can develop an effective website over a weekend.
Yes, drag-and-drop websites are quick and easy to launch. But a company that's serious about getting new business from their website isn't going to find a drag and drop website or template adequate. Don't be under the false impression that a ready-made template will fit your overall online marketing strategy. Custom-built websites, which are built with your buyer personas and positioning strategy, take time to develop.
Will it be effective at generating leads? Drag and drop website builders lack the components you'll need to develop a lead generating website.
Put up a website in a weekend, and it will bring your company new business? Not hardly.
2. Website developers just write code.
Web developers do write code, but that's not all. They are experts in seeing problems before they happen. They advise which technologies will work best for you. They optimize.
Here are three critical aspects you may not know a developer focuses on before launch:
- Increase site speed through image optimization, compression, caching and server performance
- Increase website security so your website doesn't get hacked
- Make sure your company website works with marketing automation and your CRM to bridge the gap between marketing and sales
3. Website development is a quick process.
The actual process of writing code accounts for 30-40% of time spent on website development. The other 60-70% is building the pages (we call this "content migration") and testing the website to make sure the website works properly on all browsers.
Content migration means putting new wording, photos, PDFs, video and more on the website. It's the process of building each page.
When content is brought over from an legacy website, the developer has to find a mechanism for transitioning the content. This can be accomplished in one of two ways:
- The developer will have to research various technologies to determine a way to seamlessly move information over (usually through export), or
- The developer will cut and paste the content. This second option is one of the more tedious of the two. This is because the developer will then have to reformat the content to fit the new website.
When the content migration process is complete, testing is critically important. There are over 200 combinations of browsers, operating systems and mobile devices that have to be tested, and you have to make sure every page of your website works on all of them.
Here are some things a web developer is responsible for. Have you thought about these?
- Site speed and load time, critical for search engine optimization
- Security, like SSL/HTTPS and content management/plugin security to prevent hacking
- Setting up the website to work with marketing automation and CRM
- Site compatibility on all browsers
- Does it work properly on mobile?
- Functional testing (does the site work)
- Content migration (actually building the individual pages)
- Redirection (making sure old web pages that don't exist point to new ones)
- Creation of a sitemap file for submission to search engines
- Installing and setting up analytics and goals
- Meta descriptions
- Social media integration
4. It's less costly to do website development in-house.
Is it really less costly to have in-house developers build your website? If that was actually true, companies wouldn't outsource their web development.
It all comes down to opportunity cost. If your company has in-house developers, they are probably busy building and supporting internal applications that keep your company operating smoothly. And you want them to lose focus on those critical tasks? What happens to your website development timeline when your in-house resource has to stop working on your website to fix a critical infrastructure issue?
In-house developers that build and support applications are skilled resources, but websites require different skills. Whether it would be choosing a content management system (CMS), meeting HIPAA compliance, testing page speed or image compression, or setting up lead-producing functionality that integrates with marketing automation systems and a CRM is out of the realm of their expertise.
Conversely, a web development expert deals with these website-specific issues everyday, so they are more efficient and make better decisions about how to set up your website.
5. You lose control of the process when outsourcing development.
When it comes website development outsourcing, giving up a little control is a good thing.
By giving up some control of the project, you are gaining expertise, insight and industry experience from a professional who knows best when it comes to elevating the business development potential of your site.
For example, we know that if an industrial company wants 20% of their yearly sales to come from leads they get from their website, we need to create those opportunities on the website, make sure there's marketing automation in the background, and the lead intelligence gets put in the CRM for the marketing and sales teams.
Being participatory during the process is very beneficial for the developer to understand your must-haves and nice-to-haves. You'll need to communicate all of your expectations prior to beginning website development. Leverage the developer's expertise. Communicate the problem you're trying to solve, and let them give you options. They like that challenge.
In addition, being up-front of your expectations will avoid last minute add-ons and additional costs to change a website that's already been developed and tested.
6. Developers only handle one project at a time.
Handling your website in-house versus outsourcing web development has one thing in common: competing priorities. Just like you'd allow time in the schedule for an in-house developer to handle requests, web developers at agencies are pulled in different directions, too.
Unless your budget is unlimited, expecting an agency to put their entire focus on one project at a time is not a realistic expectation. It would be cost prohibitive for an agency to have only one developer concentrate on one website project at a time. The difference between handing website development in-house and with an agency once again lies in their expertise -- they do it every day.
7. Buying a template is a suitable alternative to a custom-designed website.
Let's not mince words. No company that's serious about branding or business development would use a web template for their corporate website.
Website templates are meant to be a shortcut for low-budget projects. No template is going to allow you to clearly state your value proposition or include the types of information you need to get your message across well. A cookie cutter website template may be quicker to launch, but it won't help you generate new business opportunities.
Custom websites have other advantages, too:
- Integration with marketing automation and CRM
- Easier for multiple staff members to update
- A deliberate path for lead generation and the tools to make it possible
8. Once a site is developed, you cannot change anything.
Gone are the days where you would create a website and not change a single thing until three years later.
If you're going to generate leads through your website, you'll need insightful information added on a regular basis. We recommend at least every two weeks.
That's not to say that your web design needs to change frequently, and so a fully-developed website will give you access to add information and edit existing images and information, but not edit the general look and feel.
Unless you have a sizable IT department at your company that is also proficient in website creation or redesign, it is difficult to grasp all that goes into development. From budget and timeline to design and function, working with an agency with website development capabilities will make the process more smooth and enhance the user’s experience.