Over the course of my marketing career websites have become, and remain at the centre of any good marketing strategy. To work well they need to evolve and grow with the business. So why are so many website developments treated as a stand alone project, ending when the site goes live? A far better approach is to consider the development phase of the site akin to building a platform. Simply one step in the marketing process. There are three key elements of web development
Your website is your shop window, and needs to look professional and properly reflect your brand image. The skills needed for this phase are graphic design. In our experience, the best way to approach this is to work with a designer rather than a web developer. The designer will need to have an understanding of what makes a good website. They will also need to grasp the concept of designing for differing screen sizes. But they do not need to be a skilled coder. Here the objective is to use someone with a good eye for design, to create the look & layout for the site, rather than to build it.
Once you have the designs, the next step is to build the website. This is the point to get someone involved who understands the technicalities of coding a website. Even when using a template, having someone who can “tweak the code” to get that last 10%. will pay dividends and will lead to fewer compromises. Also, it is during this phase that you can make life either easy or hard for yourself going forward. At the beginning of this post I set out that one objective when building a website. To create a platform for your future marketing activities. Ensuring that the site is well built and understood by those who are ultimately going to manage it will make updating & evolving it into the future much easier. It is here that templates, whilst delivering great looking & cost effective website, can cause issues. Because they try to be all things to all people, they are great if you are willing to stick within their capabilities, but adding additional functionality outside of that designed into the template can be tricky. However you approach the actual build phase, be sure to keep in mind, that once the site goes live, you will want to make changes to and develop it, and a well coded side will significantly ease this process.
So your shiny new site goes live. But you can be sure that within a very short period, you will want to adapt it beyond adding new content. Furthermore, it is likely that this is going to involve something that you didn’t think of when building the site. It is at this point that you will be contacting the people looking after the site at ask “Can we just……” This is where thought put into the coding in phase 2 will pay off. Delivering the “can we just…” on a well built WordPress site should not be to much of a task. Whether through addition of a plugin or through some tweaks to the code, most requirements can be met with relative ease.
On to the Future
Looking at the sites that we manage for our clients, few of them are the same as the day they went live. In some cases having changed out of all recognition. But at no point have these changes involved a decision to start again and build a new site. The sites have evolved, and as their business’ and marketing requirements have changed, the site has changed to keep pace. Furthermore, being built in WordPress (did I mention that we build all our sites in WordPress) as well as evolving in look and functionality, the underlying code has stayed up to date, accommodating the inevitable technological changes without issue.
Don't Build a new website - Evolve it