9 Tips to Simplify Your Website Development

I get asked the same 2 questions from prospective clients during our initial consultation.  “What do you need from me?” and “How long will this take?”.  I tell every client the same thing, “A developer is only as good as their client!”.  What do I mean by this?  Even the best developers and designers can only create your perfect site if you give them what they need.  The problem is, most people don’t know what we need!  That’s where a lot of developers go wrong.  Part of our job is to guide our clients and ask the right questions to get the information that we need.

On the other hand, the worst thing a developer can hear from their client is “Oh just do what you think is best, I trust you”.  Even if a client doesn’t know exactly what they want, they know what they don’t want.  When we hear a client say this, we see hours of work on a site just to be told that it isn’t what the client really wants.  So to avoid this, I created an online form that is somewhat lengthy, but I tell clients to provide as much or as little as they want.  The more information I receive from them, the better and the faster I can get their site completed. 

More often than not, even clients who think they don’t know what they want, are able to fill out the entire form.  Clients just need guidance and its our job as developers to provide that guidance.  So what information do I ask for and what can help you help your developer?  Here are the top 10 pieces of information that I ask from clients.

  1. The more content in the beginning the better.  By content I mean text, images and even concepts. The layout of a website is dependent on the content.  For instance, I may use a completely different layout if you have 3 main topics to address on the home page versus 7. Compare the images below.  One has 6 services and the other has 3.  Completely different layouts.
  1. Font.  Font is a huge aspect that changes the entire dynamic of a website and although, not a difficult thing to change, it’s still way easier from a design aspect to have that from the beginning so that you can adjust and know what things will look like as you build.  Font Squirrel is a great place to find free fonts.
  2. Colors.  Even if you’re open to ideas, giving your developer an idea of what you like, or even better what you DON’T like is key. A lot of what is configured is done in code and it’s a lot easier to add the code in the beginning than to go back and change it later. I love Coolers.co to find color schemes for my sites.
  3. Have as many examples of other sites that you like even if they aren’t related to the industry.  If you like the simplicity of a site even if its for baby diapers and you run a brewery, put it on the list.  If there are sites you don’t like (again, more importantly) then list that and tell your developer  what do you NOT want to see on your website.
  4. Who is the primary user of your site and what is the purpose of your site?  Do you need a private portal for your customers or affiliates/vendors?  Is it to provide information or provide a service?  This can change the entire approach from the beginning because it can affect your theme choice.  Your theme is the template of your entire site and although possible to change it, it is a very time consuming and costly process.
  5. Pages.  This is the first thing that I do when I get into a theme and start setting it up.  What you put on the front page ultimately depends on your ancillary pages. 
  6. What functionality is important for your site?  Maybe there are things that you want that your theme doesn’t have.  Not all plugins work well with themes and you don’t find out until it’s uploaded and then it doesn’t run smooth.  Time wasted.  Know the functionality that you want and if you are providing your theme, be sure the functionality you need will work with your theme.
  7. If you have products on your site, know what images you want to use, the pricing, the variations, the item descriptions etc already prepared for your developer.  E-Commerce sites can be a nightmare if you are handed a disorganized mess of products.
  8. Do you have a lot of images that you are providing your developer?  If so, have them already cropped so that they are all the same size.  Resizing images and cropping takes hours and can add onto your end cost of the site. 
  9. Have your hosting and domain set up.  This is time that you’re paying for that you can actually do yourself.  Contact one of the reputable hosting companies and they can help you through this process.  Siteground is by far my #1 choice for hosting.
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