When it comes to looking at a new website or a redesign the biggest issue is the cost of the project, but there are several things you can do to help reduce this by making it easier for your web developer to get on with the ‘real’ work. This comes down to the age old saying ‘time is money’, in other words the longer the developer spends on your project the more it is going to cost, knowing that we can look at ways to speed up the development and in the long run save money.
Site plan / site map
The first thing you can do is to have a good idea of the layout of your website – not the page design itself but the site structure, this is called a site plan and lets the developer know how many pages you require and in what order they need to be on the website. A site plan can be a simple indented list or a flow chart diagram – as long as it clearly defines which pages go where it will be suitable, a common aid web developers and designers use when planning a site map is to write all of the pages on sticky notes and use a large table / wall to place them in the correct order as they can be easily moved around before a final site map is created.
This step benefits the process because the developer can take the number of pages into account before they start the design which ensures the design caters for all of the pages, it also means that development is not stalled with the developer waiting for you to decide which pages you want and reduces the chances of having to go back and add or remove pages later on in the project.
The next thing you can do to help reduce development time is have the copy ready for the developer to drop into place, this will help prevent the development stalling when the copy is needed but will also mean the copy can be dropped in as the pages are created which speeds up the process.
The way in which you provide the copy also effects the amount of time it takes to process it – for example its important to make it clear which pages the copy is meant for with files names or headings as having to stop and work out which page the copy needs to go on will slow down the development and cost more in the long run. Make sure the copy has been reviewed for spelling and that it is relevant and up-to-date – especially if your lifting the copy from an old website.
Also make sure you provide the copy in a digital format and not handwritten or printed out! as the developer will need to copy this out instead of simply copying and pasting it into the website.
Any images you are going to use on your website should be ready to go so that the developer has access to all of them when they start working to prevent the project stalling – if the images are to large to email or if you have allot of them pop them onto a pen drive / CD and post it with enough time for it to reach the developer or make use of services such as Drop Box.
Images that are for specific pages or products should be identified – place them in folders with the copy for the page or name the files by the product code to make it easy for the developer to locate the images that go with a specific page.
This is an important step as it helps you define exactly what it is you want from the website both from the design and the features of the website itself – having a good understanding of what it is you want will enable the developer / designer to better meet your needs with the design of the site itself but also with the features and functionality the site has.
Spend some time before you meet with your web developer looking at the design of other websites (particularity in your industry) and what features they offer, narrow it down to 3 of your favourites and take them with you so that you can discuss what you like about them and why you like it.
Having a list of features you want your website to have will help the developer get to grips with you website and quote you on how much the features will cost -a good idea is to put them into three categories 1) Must have 2) could have 3) would be nice to have. This will let the developer know your priorities and if there is time left in the project work on the additional feature you would benefit from the most.
Blog post by Alex Wells
Working as a Website developer I love nothing more then working waist deep in code, I have specific interests in PHP and WordPress development but mostly working with local businesses to provide them with a website that meets their needs. Contact me if you have a project in mind and would like to get an input from an experienced website developer.