We need this, that and the other

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 45 seconds

All over the world, businesses deciding to launch an internet website often make the mistake of believing that their website will be easy to set up, and head into the project with very little forethought and even less expertise. It’s certainly true that with the introduction of user friendly technologies such as content management systems (CMS), even the least technical amongst us can throw together a website these days. However, sometimes it really does pay to call on the professionals. Something that can never be underestimated is the positive contribution a well designed website can have on a company’s success, and by the same implication, the negative effects of a poor quality, badly designed site are significant.

professionals

Steaming in

Going into website creation with blinkers on, and demanding this, that and the other from a web design company is thankfully starting to become a thing of the past. Nowadays wise businesses are recognising the importance of a two way discussion. After all, there is a reason you have engaged experts in the field and it is essential that you listen to them.

Through the process of JAD, or Joint Application Development, a company can bring together IT staff, business representatives and external website design specialists to participate in detailed ongoing discussions surrounding the myriad of factors involved in the website design. Defining business requirements is a key element in the process, as is identifying the scope of the project and defining your image and target market. The group will also work together to pre-assess what impact the site will have, in order to ensure the organisation has the time and resources to respond to the anticipated increase in business activity. The JAD approach is a tried and tested framework for planning and controlling the creation of IT information systems, and a way of guaranteeing that a website matches the company’s projected image, aims and objectives.

Less is more

When it comes to website design, less is definitely more. There is little point in jazzing up your site with the latest web technology, with cool sounds and funky flash clips, if these take eons to load and result in your customers giving up after the first thirty seconds. Keep the design clear and concise, and ensure your company logo features on every page both for consistency and to maintain a professional image. Each and ever element of the design needs to justify its existence and, once again, it is well worth listening to your web design professionals: they have been through the process many times and understand what is essential versus what is simply “noise”.

Perhaps most importantly, work on finding ways to have your customers coming back again and again. However you decide to do this, it is essential at the same time to keep the site up to date in any way possible, even if you have no new products or services to offer. Keeping the site looking fresh with newsletters, articles, polls, blogs and even new FAQs will keep customers interested and coming back regularly to check on the latest news. More importantly, fresh content will attract the attention of the search engines and is vital as part of achieving those all-important search positions for relevant keywords and phrases.

Structured Development – professionals

Proven IT development methods have much to offer in today’s web development environments and yet have historically been ignored by many of the new generation of web developers, lacking the disciplined background of corporate information technology. Setting up a QA and Development site as well as a production site is a sure-fire way to avoid any pitfalls and protect your organisation against the risks involved when making changes to your site. In this IT operating model, web developers would have free access to a copy of the site on a development server to test new functionality and add-ons for a site designed to constantly evolve with the business environment. New elements can be tested, their impact and value properly assessed and subsequently approved or rejected. All of this occurs within the QA environment before the code is promoted to the live website on the production server under the protection of an agreed change management control process.

Such a structured approach ensure that not only will the live site be as stable as possible but that “this, that and the other” will need to demonstrate real value and proper integration with the objectives and structure of the site before being promoted from pencil and paper into reality.

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