Rolling out a new website is a task of what feels like a thousand decisions. Knowing where to invest the extra effort can add up to a lot of difference in the timescales and the overall project spend. A few small changes in approach can be the difference between launching on schedule and getting mired in indecision.
Preparing for the journey
At the outset of your project, providing as much documentation to your digital agency as possible will save a lot of time from the get-go. A clear brief and objective, data on your target audiences and how the website should serve them, workflows, brand guidelines—anything you have that will inform the design and development. When the agency works with incomplete information, you may find that you’re paying more later for multiple revisions.
Take the discovery phase of the build seriously. This is the time to dig deep and really get to grips with what role your website is going to play in the bigger business picture. It can feel a bit intangible—there isn’t much to look at. But having a firm understanding at the beginning of how both your external audience and your organisation will benefit from your website will prevent designers and developers having to redo things later. Time and money saved straight away.
Managing the content is what much of the project is about. So saving it for the end and trying to make it fit what’s already been built is a backwards approach, and often results in costly redesign. The website is meant to be designed around the content, so bring it to the planning table. As much of the final format of the content as possible in the earliest stages will keep the project moving.
Licence to thrive
It’s vital to plan with an eye on the future. It’s essential to have a website that will deliver to your business needs right now, of course. But having one that can also grow and adapt to your longer term goals is even better. Choose a platform and a licence that can meet both without too many third party integrations and excessive customisation. Developing something scalable may have some initial upfront costs, but that investment will pay off later.
The flip side of that coin is to be realistic about what you'll put to use. It’s possible to over-specify your wants versus your needs. This is why scoping the project during discovery is so crucial. There’s no point in paying for a suite of features that never gets put into play, for example. Shop the different software licences to see what you’re getting, and find the best match for your actual goals. Don’t try to reprioritise your business goals to match the features you find.
Taking the wheel
Trust in your designers, and let them lock down key components of the website layout. That means your team won’t be able to change certain aspects of the website’s appearance and structure, but it’s for your own good. You’ll still have plenty of flexibility—as much as you want—to present your content. But the integrity of your site’s design will stay put, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money in development fixes.
Lastly, don’t forget to allocate some of the budget for ongoing maintenance. There’s the service contract, which may include security and monitoring right from the beginning. But there’s also the development work to grow your website in line with your long term goals. And keeping up with the software upgrades is important for both security and optimisation. It is best to plan for those costs in advance.
If you’d like to talk more about getting your website project planned, please get in touch