Every business must have an internet presence. In fact, some may say that every person requires an internet presence (personal branding). Whether you are a business owner who likes to undertake their own web development, a high level web developer working for a company or an agency, a freelancing web development gun for hire, or an enthusiastic web amateur, you may fall prey to various mistakes when developing your web site.
Mistakes often do happen, errors can be corrected, and false steps can be undone. It may surprise you to learn that these critical mistakes are quite common and yet easy to avoid. Here are five to watch out for.
1. Reinventing the wheel during the web design and web development stage
You want your site to be unique and different from your competitors. However, you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t be shy about modeling your site on others. Chances are they modeled theirs on other sites, as well. It is human nature to build upon the existing, collective, wisdom of others. That is how we progress. You don’t have to create a site that is completely out of this world. You just need to create a website that looks and feels better than the other sites that your prospect sees when they click around other sites.
How do we avoid this mistake and cut down on web design and web development efforts?
Find sites that you or your client like to get a sense of the style, and look and feel that you like. Go to Google, type in a keyword that is relevant to the business, and click around the top listings there. Identify your online competitors. You may think you know your direct competitors in a heartbeat. But to your target audience your website competes with sites that show up in the Google search results when they type in their search criteria. And competitors who run Google Adwords are the ones that are serious in getting your audience’s attention.
We lost on a couple of project proposals because we have made a mistake in trying to re-invent the wheel. Once, we were asked to build an interactive website to sell custom made T-Shirts (similar to CustomInk.com). The client wanted the ability for the user to created their own custom T-shirts online and send in their order. We gave them an estimate to create that functional utility using Flash or HTML 5. In the end, it was much too expensive of a proposal and we lost the project. In retrospect, we should have just purchase the code for the functionality. We did not do due diligence to find out if there were companies out there that has already created this module. If we had done our due diligence and not try to re-invent the wheel, our proposal estimates would be much much lower.
The take-away from this lesson is that almost everything has already been invented. That web-based product configurator for your client that needs to be developed? Someone has probably built something similar that you can use. That payback calculator your client is hankering for? Someone has probably developed an online utility that can be incorporated to your website. We don’t normally build e-commerce functionality from the ground up anymore, so why should we do that for other web functionality?
5 Common Mistakes in Web Design and Web Development
More coming soon…