These days, business development has become synonymous with digital marketing and online presence – two items that website development is intricately associated with. Your website is now a hub for your business. Leveraging smart CMS platforms, the best websites in the world create more traffic, convert visitors into customers, solve existing customer problems by integrating automated solutions like chatbots, and even announce organizational and product-level updates to the world. Websites also make it much easier for your business to collect data about users and customers. The data can then be analyzed to fix potential issues and create a product stack more personalized for your customers, further empowering your business. As a result, the number of website developers in the United States alone is on the rise, projected to reach 205,000 by 2030.You might be thinking about embarking on a website project in the near future. If so, let’s look at the mindset required, the processes involved and items you need to consider.
The Role of the Website in Your Business Operations
Your website is the front office of your business operations. A well-developed website generates more leads, increases sales, and improves customer experience. Moreover, the website for your business can attract organic traffic to increase your brand awareness. It also works as a bulletin board for your company where you can post updates and announcements. Before you reach out to a developer, it’s worthwhile to assess your website’s role in your operations.
Additionally, review your website’s touchpoints with your operations and identify the integrations that help your business operate efficiently across functions. Such integrations may include an ERP, a CRM, marketing automation tools, and more. Articulating your website’s entire ecosystem and technologies to a potential developer will facilitate the scoping of the project.
Defining the Purpose of the Website
Before you delve into your website project, you need to be clear about the goal or purpose of the website and how it will integrate with your operating business model. Your website may have multiple goals but what’s key is prioritizing those goals to maintain focus throughout the design and build of the site. Some examples of website goals include:
Key Features or Functionality
Developers will ask about required features and functionality when embarking on a website project. The question is relevant because it helps identify the scale of effort to design and build the website. Having a list of requirements will help with scoping. Alternatively, you can ask your web developer or partner to include a discovery phase as part of their scope to identify these requirements with the stakeholders and/or users. To help frame features and functionality for the website for, we suggest framing the requirements as follows:
Additionally, we recommend considering any features that internal teams such as marketing, sales, human resources, or customer service may require that touch the website. For example:
Websites feature interactivity and functionality that empower businesses, customers, and users. Knowing what your website requires before speaking with a web developer or partner will lead to a more effective and accurate scope and cost estimate.
Content and Design
Maintaining content for a website includes many activities like creating, removing, publishing or editing content or pages. For many years, these processes required web developers. However, in today’s world, a content management system or CMS provides an an alternative no-code or low-code approach to these processes. CMS platforms like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, or Umbraco offer capabilities for ease of creating, managing, and publishing content for a website.
A good content management system removes the pain of coding whenever you want to add or edit your website. Instead, a CMS uses language-agnostic visual tools and interactive workflows that make it user-friendly for non-technical users to create and publish content on a website.
If a CMS is on your wish list, you’ll first leverage web designers and developers to create the back-end infrastructure, front-end experience, and templates. However, this will mitgate the need for day-to-day resources post-launch. Tap web developers for times when new features or functionality are required or for maintaining the software or plugins.
When you are building your website, you have to also make provisions for content migration. Content migration is a process through which you move all of your existing website content to your new website/domain or a new platform. This is a complex method and can be made easier with sitemaps, wireframes, and content spreadsheets.
A consistent look and feel across the website contributes to usability and a positive user experience. This is where a digital style guide or a user interface (UI) kit comes in. A digital style guide or UI kit is a standardized scheme for all the visual languages on your website, including typography, color palette, spacing, images, icons, button styles, and more. A well-crafted digital style guide creates guidelines for the web development team and works as a reference for future web designs and incorporating new technologies. A digital style guide should always be an extension of your brand but is specific to interactive experiences. You may already have one for your company. If not, consider having the website partner create a digital style guide or UI kit as part of the design scope.
Hosting and Maintenance
Websites also require two things: web hosting and maintenance. Web hosting, at its simplest, is a service that encompasses storing all website-related data, codes, and files on a server and deploying said website live so users can access, view, and interact with its content. You can either have the site hosted internally on your company’s data centers or employ a range of web hosting providers that do the same with a one-time fee or monthly subscription. Leveraging web hosting providers removes the pain and additional operating expense of maintaining website availability (server support and troubleshooting) and security.
Remember that before your website goes live, you will have to buy a domain (if you don’t have one already), either from a domain registrar like GoDaddy or your web hosting/maintenance vendor.
Website maintenance is probably the most important part of your website’s lifecycle. Keeping the backend server where the website code is stored up and running 24×7 and secure is key. Maintenance tasks include patching and upgrading code and its underlying hardware and software architecture, scheduling regular backups, going through periodic stress and disaster recovery tests, organizing penetration testing and fixing identified vulnerabilities, as well as maintaining all the plugins, extensions, and modules, including CMS. Again, investing in a web hosting and maintenance service provider may provide better value in the long run as they cut down operational expenses and downtime by quite a bit.
There are 5 billion active internet users in the world today. They access various websites from a pool of about 2 billion and counting. This staggering number of websites means the one that you build for your business needs to stand out from the competition. Content and design are the biggest factors that make a website pop. Alongside that, you should invest in stable, fast, and reliable platforms. Remember: you build your website for the long term, so lean on technologies that help you expand your business and organically create more brand awareness. The good thing about web development these days is the sheer number of available resources. You can either do web coding internally within your organization or hire a web development company to do it for you.
If you are a business leader in 2022, having a reliable and effective website for your company should be at the top of your priorities.