Building a website, app, dashboard, or any other kind of web-related program is expensive, so you should know some things before starting your next web development project.
Without a good plan in place and some reasonable expectations about how to build software, you could end up spending far more time and money than necessary to get your project off the ground. Wouldn’t you like to know how to start off strong?
In this blog, we’ll talk about four big-picture rules to keep in mind when beginning your project and seeing it through to completion. By following these rules, you’ll have a strong foot forward in successful web development.
1. Communicate Nonverbally
Many people think that the pinnacle of branding and marketing is catchy language that wows users so much that they have no choice but to buy whatever they’re being sold. This is the Super Bowl ads strategy: become so memorable that the gossip leads to better sales.
Now, nobody is saying that word of mouth doesn’t drive sales, but spending all your energy on a good script—rather than establishing your product’s selling point—is not so much a recipe for success as it is a recipe to becoming memorable. In the worst cases, these ads backfire.
Advertising tycoon David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”
Your web development project needs to prioritize the needs of its users by addressing an actual need, rather than simply earning some kudos from your friends and family.
One way to keep your website trim and lean is to use easy-to-understand icons wherever you can. This doesn’t mean you should overwhelm users with weird icons they can’t recognize—that is a bad thing. Instead, help your users navigate your website with ease.
If you sell products on your site, make sure users can click each photo to go to its product page and learn more.
Pictures are important. The right photography can guide users to dream up their own notions of how they would adopt your product into their own lives. People resonate with good photography, but don’t overdo it. You shouldn’t mistake beautiful photography alone for good design.
A good rule of thumb is to pretend your user doesn’t speak your language. Can they navigate your site even a little bit? Is it easy enough to use that they can stumble onto a better understanding of its purpose?
2. Design Is Usability
By now you probably have some idea of how to brand your company so people will remember it in the future. This includes logos, color scheme, font, and other design elements. Some people think these are arbitrary details that have little to do with whether or not people use your website, but that’s not the truth.
Along with ADA guidelines that dictate contrast and readability requirements, good design means it’s easy for your users to navigate your product. Too low of contrast coloration can make it difficult for your readers to find what they’re looking for, causing them to leave quickly and negatively affect your bounce rate. You don’t want this.
Instead, find creative ways to incorporate your color scheme into your design. Create a logo that can be used throughout the site in small, convenient ways. Good design doesn’t just mean pretty colors and lines—it means directing users to what they really want on your website.
The layout is another important aspect of your web development. Consider trying out a sitemap template like one of these to brainstorm ideas and have a rough plan of how to proceed.
The easier your site is to navigate, the longer users will stay there, and the better your SEO rankings will be. A good UX designer can help you with these kinds of tasks, so check out a freelancer with a good body of work who can give you some tips about best design practices.
3. Know Your Market
If your business is to have any chance of success, you need to know your market. This means you need a marketing plan, complete with buying trends, demographics, and predictions about the future. This isn’t easy (or cheap) to acquire, but with some research and quality thinking time, you’ll be able to envision the world where people use your product.
Who are they? Is your product a web-based service? Will it be used by your employees? How old is your ideal user? These are all important points to consider.
Good marketing isn’t a shot in the dark; it is the whittling away of everyone who isn’t the most likely to purchase your service. Eliminate anyone from your marketing plan who doesn’t automatically check the box of the ideal buyer, because not doing so will waste your money on useless marketing campaigns.
Try out different design styles by using landing pages. If you have unique URLs where you can send two different groups of people, you’ll be able to see which design strategies work best for your market. Again, not doing so is a waste of money. Go with the statistics here, even if you’re unsure it’s what you want.
4. Don’t Skimp on Quality Content
You’re going to have to spend time and money if you want your project to work out the way you hope. There are too many websites to count where a company clearly hired the cheapest writer they could find to populate their pages, only to learn that no one read any of it because it didn’t flow or feel human.
There are no shortcuts to good content. Photography, marketing copy, ad copy—all that stuff comes from people with experience pitching a sale through the use of an artistic medium. The better your content, the better your web project will perform.
If you are dead set on writing your own content, don’t start with a written rough draft. Start, instead, by pacing around your living room for about an hour while spouting off the main idea of your brand. Once you’ve narrowed it down to its essentials, it’s time to record a one-minute statement of what your product will do for its users.
This spoken approach to content is what makes good writing—it sounds like someone is actually talking to you rather than talking at you (looking at you, corporate presenters).
There Are Shortcuts to Success, but They Aren’t Cheap
Like we said earlier, web development isn’t cheap and having to shell out that much money for a project can be frustrating. Unless you’re a pro, though, doing it yourself usually just means extra work down the road, possibly having to rewrite the entire site or app.
Better to spend the money now on people who can save you time than to spend all your time saving a little extra money.
Plan ahead, then ask for help. Investing in quality web design yields returns, so give your project the care and devotion it needs. It’s your baby now.
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