Websites that do something are interactive products which require careful planning to execute, both for a client and a web development company. Websites fail because businesses and Drupal web development (webdev) companies don’t plan, or don’t plan together. While Drupal is a superior platform in many ways (that’s why Thinkbean uses Drupal), there is no substitute for a well-crafted Drupal website strategy. The crux of the strategy is the evolving discussion between the client and their Drupal web development partner.
What Your Drupal WebDev Team Needs to Know Now
A creative and encouraging way to open discussion is to establish a good rapport before communicating project requirements. Ask the Drupal web development team what their biggest challenges are when communicating with clients. The answers show what information the web development company needs most, which will go a long way toward minimizing risks.
Some common information webdev companies need
- Identify your business goals and how the new website is expected to fulfill them: Are you trying to grow sales? Expand product mix? Be a thought leader? Capture emails? Your business objectives will drive site features to deliver the best outcome.
- Identify your target audience AND their expectations: The audience must drive the user experience (UX). Drupal webdev teams use an established target audience persona to optimize UX for the primary users of the website. Target audience identification allows research about the target demographic to inform website design and function choices that can make or break UX. What do users expect a website to be able to do to meet (or exceed) the standard for its sector or industry?
A few years ago many city governments didn’t have official websites. Now, from Boston.gov’s homepage, local residents can search for property information, pay their real estate taxes, apply for a city job, pay a parking ticket, view the schedule for Boston food trucks, get a resident parking permit, learn how to vote by absentee ballot and report non-emergency issues... and that’s just on the home page.
- Know your scope and budget for it: This really falls under website strategy. Talking through the website’s functionality and desired features internally, as a team and then again with the Drupal web development company, is an essential step to getting it right without rushing to fulfill unmet needs just before launch. The scope needs to be defined as specifically as possible in terms of goals, deliverables, features, tasks and costs. Without a solid scope included in a website strategy, timeframes and costs can increase dramatically.
- Know what people should do on your website: The website is the virtual representation of a physical organization for billions of users who visit daily. What’s the best possible outcome when a user visits the website? The primary purpose of a website is to convert a visitor into a lead. How can the website achieve this? Will users download something? Are there forms they will fill out? Should users have the ability to call a company directly? To convert visitors into leads, a website has to offer valuable content to visitors.
Communicating With a Web Development Company
Website strategy isn’t just for the benefit of the webdev team. It’s just as important for the business’s outcomes as it is for the web development company. The process of creating a website strategy with a Drupal web development company can head off many potential problems before they become actual problems.
Some common communication issues clients have with webdev companies are:
- It’s difficult to get in touch with my webdev partner: There are many factors impacting this growing industry that make it difficult for web development companies to manage capacity. During the process of building a website strategy with the web development partner your organization chooses; what kind of (and how much) communication both parties will require must be discussed. Ask how often you’ll be speaking, via what platforms, and establish what information you want updated at every meeting. Manage the project for efficiency by appointing one person who can make decisions on behalf of your business.
- There were unacceptable delays for deliverables: A client can do a lot to ensure their webdev partner meets deadlines. There is a degree of following-up that anyone involved in a project should do to ensure forward progress. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The most important thing a client can do to make sure their deliverables are delivered on-time is to make sure the web development company gets all of the information they need to complete the project. While a seemingly minor question might seem trivial to a client, web development companies can be completely road-blocked by unanswered questions. Take a look at the webdev company’s processes too. Good processes mean more successful outcomes.
- They over-promised and couldn’t deliver what we wanted: This is a common complaint from clients. In this industry, there are a great many possibilities for features, functionality and aesthetics. With such extensive combinations of potential requirements, it can be difficult for a client and a web development company to communicate exact specifications in ways each can clearly understand. As a result, expectations can be shortchanged.. Understand there may be a language barrier, and set good communication standards and expectations early to prevent major miscommunications.
- Start with a discovery period so the web development company can establish a clear understanding of the business and user goals
- Develop a strong scope of work around a minimum viable product (MVP)
- Don’t let either party scope creep
- When changes occur, document them with a change order
- Get demos weekly, or bi-weekly to ensure steady progression
- Get a budget update regularly
- Adequately staff your team
** If a project is 1000 hours in development, your team should expect to put in 600-800 hours for approvals, reviews, demos, research, content, and communication.
How Thinkbean Starts When Working a Website Strategy
Thinkbean begins every web project with a Discovery; A web development strategy conversation that identifies a defined website strategy, business & user goals and what users need to be able to do when they reach the website. All projects begin with this because Thinkbean has encountered communication challenges before and has overcome them with this simple, straightforward conversation.
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