When our team first meets a new client, the top priority is to make a plan for how we are going to build their website. You can read a detailed post about our development process here. We sometimes encounter people who are surprised by all the planning work that goes into a build, before a single line of code is created. There are lots of good reasons to formulate a highly detailed plan.
We need to get to know your business. What product or service are you marketing and what is? What is the competition doing? What is unique to your business? All stakeholders need to talk these questions through so we’re all on the same page about our goals for the website.
Learning to collaborate and communicate effectively is something else that happens in the initial planning stages before you build your website. We have our clients fill out a detailed survey, and we get them dialed in to the Google sheets and other tools we use to create timelines and track task completion. Having all of this information spelled out very clearly helps us throughout the entire site build. Every stakeholder is looking at the same information and can access it at any time to check in and make corrections and suggestions.
All Stakeholders Collaborate to Come up with a Final Design
As we learn more about the company and its goals with its website, we’re able to come up with a timeline for content creation and design. We also include major milestones for when we present our ideas and get approval. Clients have a set amount of time to give us their feedback, which allows us to incorporate it into the final package for approval.
We know it’s important for clients to have a clear idea of what we’re proposing for both design and content. There are several great tools we use to create mockups of the site, which also allow for easy client feedback. Our goal is to give you a good sense of what we’re going to create, so you can easily tell if it’s what you want. On the content side, we often hire a professional writer to work with you to create the right voice for the site. By collaborating together to create a shared vision, we avoid unpleasant surprises that derail the project’s timeline and cost.
Design approval is a major milestone before we start to build your website. It signals the end of the planning phase and the beginning of the work of coding and developing the site itself. You can think of the planning process as creating the blueprint before you actually begin to build the house. When you’re in the process of making the blueprint, it’s relatively easy to make changes, as you see the vision for the house unfold. After the blueprint is finalized, making changes becomes more difficult. If the framing of the house is already up, it can take time and money to move a wall.
In the same way, during the planning process of a website, we have the ability to tweak menus, the site map, fonts, and colors. Once we are up to our elbows developing the website, all of these elements become more set in stone and harder to change.
If you go back to the post linked at the top of this article, you’ll see that the planning and development of content and the design concept take about twice as long as actually building the website. Why should this be? Because once all stakeholders have hashed out a shared vision for the site, it’s a fairly quick process to bring the vision to life.
We’ve found, on the other hand, that when we skimp on the planning, we end up taking a lot longer to build your website. This is because making major changes during that process will involve redoing lots of work.
It may look like the planning is long, but just remember: front end work saves back end hassle.
Contact us, so we can get started on planning your new website build!