7 ways to ruin your website before it even launches

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In the five years that I’ve been involved in the web development industry, I’ve learnt how to build great websites that delight clients and their consumers alike. Along the way I’ve also learnt how easy it is to sink a website before it even leaves port. In my experiences, the difference between building a great website and building a white elephant is in the planning and approval phases.

To help you get the most out of your new website, I’ve highlighted the most common mistakes people can make during the development of a website. Keep these points in mind to help ensure that you get the best results possible.

1. Not knowing what you want

You want a website right? Great, but it goes a little deeper than that. Do you want to sell your products on your website? Do you want to facilitate conversations on your site? Do you want to run campaigns via your website? Do you want to promote your organisation on your website? Do you want to regularly list and update new products on your website? Do you want a platform to tell your brand’s story? All of these objectives and goals need to be highlighted at the beginning of the project so they can be catered for and implemented from the beginning. Planning is key to a great final product.

2. Your website is for the people who visit it, not you

If you like pictures of wolves and tribal symbols that’s your prerogative. But it doesn’t mean your financial investment company’s website needs pictures of wolves too. The individual responsible for the design of your site is (hopefully) visually literate and understands how certain design aspects apply to certain industries. Let him do his job.

3. Changing project specifications half way through the project

The functionality you decide on at the beginning of the project has a huge effect on the foundation of the site. You can’t change the scope of the site half way through and just expect it to just work. A good example is if you’re building a single story house: you can’t change the specs half way through for it to be double story house with a wooden deck. The same goes for a website.

4. Design by committee

You’re probably paying a pretty penny for your site and want to make sure that you get what you want in regards to design and functionality. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean that everyone in your company should have a say in the design of the site. Heard of the saying “Too many chefs spoil the brew”? The same goes for a website. For best results, one visually literate person from your staff should be nominated and should be responsible for feedback and sign off on the website’s design.

5. Cutting corners on design resources

Everyone wants to keep costs down and that’s completely understandable. However, when it comes to design resources for your website, you should be willing to invest some money. Great photography is a vital aspect of a great website, but unfortunately great photography isn’t cheap. Don’t cut corners here, it’s an easy way to ruin your website.

6. Not listening to your developer’s recommendations

When you go to a doctor you don’t tell him how to fix your broken leg — the same goes for a web developer or designer. Don’t undermine or ignore your developer’s advice and opinion. If she is serious about her job she will know better than you, that’s why you’re hiring her in the first place. Listen carefully to what she has to say and take her advice seriously.

7. Deciding to write the website’s content yourself

If you don’t know what keyword density, keyword research and Meta data is, you shouldn’t be writing your website’s content. Search Engine Optimisation is a huge part of a website’s development. Engaging content that targets the right keywords is vital to developing a great discoverable website and should not be ignored.

It is understandable that you want to be part of your website’s development process, but keep in mind that you are paying for professional expertise. Let the people who know what they are doing, do their job.

Image: Marjan Krebelj (vi Flickr).

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