Web development is a process which takes an idea into reality. It is a process that can be tough, complex, and somewhat frustrating at times. Especially for those that are not in the web development space. This is because of the mixed messages that are presented to us each and every day.
Has this ever happened to you?
You have this big “thing” you are planning for your business. You want to create a page on your website announcing it. You’d like to have people sign up and then be able to send them an email about it later. You log into your website and wonder how to do this. So you go back to your web developer to find out how only for him to say “Um, we can’t.” (Or even worse, you don’t hear back from your web developer.)
These sorts of “things” are hard to do. These sorts of “things” are complex in the way they tie together. Yet, the services out there that bombard us on how easy building a website for our business don’t offer these. Wouldn’t it seem logical for businesses to be able to reach out to its customers this way?
Smart business owners realize that web development is a skill that shouldn’t be discounted. In price and in talent and experience.
The wrong perception of web development
The perception of web development is skewed and flat out wrong.
There are huge marketing machines out there pushing how easy it is. Simply by dragging and dropping photos, businesses can create online stores and elegant websites. Often times in very little time and for an extemely low cost.
WordPress has the famous “5-minute install” which lends itself to the low barrier entry. It allows for people to setup a website very quickly and be able to install a theme and get the balling rolling in no time.
The worst offenders are those in the web development industry that provide poor services and lack professionalism. As a result hand over poor performing websites back to the owners. Only to find out how poor the product is at the worst possible time.
These all offer a low barrier of entry to getting your business online. The low barrier to entry fuels a mixed message. They put the words of “just”, “easy”, and “quick” into future requests from businesses. Don’t get me wrong, if I were not running a web development business, I would most likely jump right on board.
These services may have a place in ecosystem of the web since they can get a business up and running with a website. Businesses need a website as much as they need a bank account. Having a business without a website is not even an option. So I do understand why businesses look to these as options to get them online.
Yet, the these services should not have the perception as web development services. They don’t even come close to high quality web development. They are definitely not a solution for all online business needs.
This perception leaves a wake of mistrust and misguidance. Professional web developers are always in education mode against these race to the bottom services. Having to prove time and time again why web development is not always just easy and quick.
Web Development is done online and offline
Ask any professional developer what is the #1 thing that they want. You’ll hear the same answer over and over. “Included in projects as early as possible.”
Let me make an easy decision for you. If you are thinking about bringing a developer in on a discussion, do it. Call that developer, bring her into the conference room, Skype him. There should be no hesitation at this point.
Web development is not just an online thing. Many of the decisions done offline affect what is possible online.
Ever want to do something on your website for a event you have and it’s only days away? Then you remember that you need to put up a page on your website only to have the developer say that we can’t do that in time?
It’s because the developer wasn’t included in some offline decisions made early on. As a result, the website wasn’t setup for it.
Even if you think it’s needless information you are bothering the developer, it could be critical to something down the road. Sometimes as the business owner it’s not seen at the moment. But because of the developer’s experience the code can be setup to expect it.
Web Development is a partnership
Conversations and meetings with your developer should spark some thoughts. These sparks can spur questions. They can even present options for your business that could be more effective.
Successful business owners know their business inside and out. They know the audience. They know the product. They know exactly how to connect the two to make the business a success.
Successful web developers know the online business inside and out. They know the web visitor. They know the “website.” They know how to connect the two to make the website a success for your business.
The web is complex and can seem like magic at times. Business owners are realizing that using the web is a part of the business. Using the web effectively is a big part to the success of their business. Having a professional web developer as your partner is critical.
In 1997 it was enough to just have a page with your phone number and address on a .com. It’s much different here in the 21st century. Having a developer as a partner can be a big advantage for you as a business owner.
The experience that a developer brings to the table now could be 5, 10, and even 15 years in some cases. That knowledge is extremely valuable. Not only because of cost, but also because those years of experience bring tried and true processes that are known to produce success on the web.
As a small business owner, you may not be in a position to hire on a full time web developer yet. Though there are other options out there to bring on a web developer. Having a web developer that you know and trust is your competitive advantage. Most of your competitors do not have one.
Many businesses hire freelance web developers. But they soon find out that the freelancer is focused on their full time job with not enough time for them. Or even worse, they become missing in action when you need them most. Leaving the business high and dry to fend for themselves.
When bringing on a web developer, you want to look at them as a partner for your business. That’s not to say that they will be involved in making critical business decisions. But they should be looked upon as long term partners to build your business online.
It is why I have the tagline “Partner In Code.” When I start with a client, I don’t look at them as a one and done project. I see a business that wants to make a huge impact in their business over the next 18 months. They’ve chosen to work with me so I can make the impact for them online. I want my client to not worry about a thing online and stay focused on moving the business to the next level. I’ll handle the website and their online goals for them. I am their partner in code.
Web Development is not a one and done service
Over the years, I’ve seen many businesses come across my desk with disastrous websites. The business owners tell me they can’t even edit for fear that they’ll “break something.”
This is the work of that third ingredient of the mixed message. What’s happened is that the business has hired someone who did not look at the business as a partner. The developer looked at the business as a project to pay that month’s bills and make some money.
This puts the business in a worse shape than if they went with the drag and drop website builder or building their own WordPress site. Because now a business has a website that does only one thing. Whatever it’s doing now with no flexibility for change.
In order for the business to fix this, most times it means starting from scratch. Making all that initial money spent a complete waste.
A website is always an evolving tool for a business. As the business grows and changes its objectives, the website needs to be in lockstep with it. The website needs to be thought of as a tool for the business. Which means it needs to perform for the business, measure that performance, and then be able to adjust as needed.
Take the assembly line that Henry Ford invented to manufacture cars as a tool. If Apple used the same exact assembly line Henry Ford created, would we even have an iPhone right now?
Once a website is live, the measuring of its performance begins. Analyzing the results and adjusting accordingly, so that the goals of the business are met.
All those businesses that had the poorly developed sites wanted to make adjustments. They wanted the website to work for their business and reach the goals. Yet, all they had was the assembly line that Ford built.
More often than not, when they went back to the original developer for the adjustments, they got no response. The developer couldn’t be reached.
Nothing gets under my skin more than when I hear this. I just don’t understand how anyone running a business goes silent to their clients. The sad part is that the only reason they do go silent is because they have something to hide from. Which in this case is the product that they delivered.
Ok, sorry rant over :).
But I will say this. If a developer doesn’t have the time or want to be included on conversations about the goals of the business, it should raise a red flag immediately.
Partner In Code
The perception of web development needs to change. Smart business owners have started to change their perception. It first started with enterprise companies.
But, just last week I spoke with a small business who has an online store. This company only 2 employees as well. Even though they don’t have the resources yet, they’ve prioritized their need for web development. It was a refreshing conversation to have. More and more small online businesses are focused on high quality web development as a critical component to their business.
As the web becomes more and more advanced, the skills and experience a professional web developer become more advanced. To discount these would be doing a disservice to your business and leaving you behind your competitors.
Start today and find your partner in code.