Not all developers follow the same steps or use the same methods. Not all projects require the same resources or procedures. And not all owners and managers need (or want) the same level of technical detail or aesthetic rationale.
So, in general terms, what might one expect during the website-development process?
PPWW never farms out clients’ work to third parties or other countries. If we accept a job, we accept the obligation to do the work ourselves. That’s the only way we know to get the consistent, quality-in-the-details results we aspire to deliver.
Work in progress
Early changes may be easier, faster, and cheaper than changes that come later in the process. The experienced developer will ensure that their client sees previews of the visual design and the site content before work progresses too far.
Pitching competing designs at Mad Men-style meetings? That’s not very common outside large-budget, corporate websites. Still, some projects warrant proposing more than one design approach. When that is the case, a few prototype web pages or graphical mockups of each design may form the basis of discussion.
That said, sometimes a new website arrives whole in the developer’s vision, so clearly inspired and appropriate that it has a life of its own. The energized developer might forge ahead on that single path but they know it will be, ultimately, up to the client to approve… or not.
No added pre$$ure
A web developer should make your job easier, not harder, and that includes your budget. Hire the best you can — the good ones are worth it in a thousand ways and can shoulder much of the weight of your project.
Having chosen a developer, get to know their strengths and trust their expertise. Tell them what you want to accomplish, but not how to do it. Let them find interesting and effective ways to get there. Don’t be a backseat driver or micromanage the visual details, because a compromise in design often is a weakened design. It can also jeopardize both the budget and the timeline.
Your developer should try to avoid surprises that have price tags attached and, if one arises, help you to contain costs.
Unless they serve a distinct purpose, design flourishes and “extra” functions can be thought of as ornamentation. For most websites, their cost vs. value should be considered. At worst, they can undermine the purpose, brand, and messaging of a website.
It is common for developers to offer a limited amount of support for thirty days (or so) after the launch of a new website or redesign. That helps reassure the owner that any bugs uncovered by then will be repaired, that they will receive some coaching in operating the site, and that a few details can still be fine-tuned. This type of support typically does not include changes to the scope of the project, second thoughts about things previously agreed upon, new or added content, or detailed SEO.
After any such grace period, your web developer has completed their task.
All websites benefit from occasional new content and updates. It keeps a site fresh for visitors and of interest to search engines.
To that end, website managers can anticipate some ongoing tasks. Plan ahead for the time when you will want assistance with those and other, unanticipated, issues.
- Ask your web developer if they offer ongoing support (not all do).
- Find a junior-level developer for help with simpler tasks at lower rates within the constraints your primary developer recommends.
- Cultivate expertise — in yourself or in employees — for updating content. This can result in significant savings over time.
- Rely on the web host for server support and some types of backend (i.e., not visible to the public) issues.
- If your needs evolve, it may become useful to have IT expertise available for occasional consultation.