Beginning the Website Development Process

When you are looking for a website developer and embarking on that pivotal journey of website development, you need to gather some things before you begin.

Budget Considerations

Most importantly, you need to set a very clear budget for the project, understanding that this can become costly. Think about what is the highest amount you can afford. The more money you can put toward this project, the better the results will be and the higher the chances you can have a site that looks and functions the way you want.

You can ask your developer how much s/he charges but that can be like asking an automobile salesman how much cars cost or asking a real estate agent how much houses cost. It’s best to begin with a budget amount reflecting what you can afford and then your developer can explore options with you within that price range.

When setting your budget, it is vital you realize the hierarchy website cost types. General types from least to most expensive are usually: brochure style site with a pre-designed theme < brochure style site with a custom design < small business e-commerce site < large corporation site. If your budget is under $2000, you will be looking at developing a brochure-style site. It is also a good idea to be somewhat aware of which features are more costly. Custom forms are complicated and can increase costs of your website. Standard forms like a basic contact form or a mailing list sign-up form are usually pre-made and shouldn't add on too many extra costs. Any other forms or any tweaks to the standard forms will take time and add up. Image creation and editing can take time and become costly. If you want a site with lots of background images and high quality photos, it will likely be costlier than a site with simple backgrounds. Any other custom features that require special jQuery, JavaScript or php programming will add on to the cost.

Content Considerations

Do you require copywriting services or are you providing the copy? Are you planning on learning WordPress yourself and entering most of the copy yourself or are you looking for someone to input it for you?

If you are providing the copy, it is most helpful to have most of the front page copy ready before development begins, with the understanding that there may be some seo-related tweaks.

It’s best to let your developer add the text to the site prior to launch, since it can have such a strong influence on the design. After launch, it will depend on the style of website you have and what arrangement you have agreed upon with your developer.

If you are looking for full copywriting help then it’s, again, important to be clear about that from the start of the project.

Web designs can be beautifully created without having the copy completed first, however, if you go that route, there will be limitations on the length allowance for some of the copy. Also some features, like taglines may not fit the same way.

Images

Any images you have already, that you want included in your website design, should be provided ahead of time. It is a good idea to become familiar with some of the image requirements and limitations that websites have. If you require additional stock photos or images this will come at an extra cost.

Professional images are indispensable. They can either be provided by you (or your photographer) or stock photos can be used. It isn’t possible to create an adequate design without high quality images. The amount of images needed can be reduced to help reduce costs, but any images used must meet design standards.

What do you like?

It’s a good idea to bring some examples, in the form of links, of website design features on other websites you like as well as some thoughts on what your values are and who you are trying to reach. If you love bright tropical colours, and want to reach teens and prefer something sassy, you will get very different design suggestions than if you are trying to reach seniors, and prefer conservative colours and want something hard hitting.

On this site, css Zen Garden, web designers took the same content and were challenged with creating a wide variety of different designs. It is a great example of how many different designs can be wrapped around the same content.

When you contact me about website development, I will can help clarify what else is needed before we begin. Visit this entry on my FAQ page for a step-by-step breakdown of the website development process.