3 Most Neglected Phases of Building a Website
THROUGHOUT MY CAREER as a Web Developer, I’ve worked with a multitude of different personalities; artists, entrepreneurs, visionaries, innovators, and executives, to name a few. Each client has been vastly different, but a majority have shared an unsystematic and often laconic approach to building a website. I’m not trying to sound pretentious, but there is a method to this website stuff. If you were to type: how to build a website into your web browser, you’ll find 8+ billion results with headlines like; “build a website in just 48 hours” or “web design, just $64.99.” Interestingly, it usually comes down to time and money.
The truth is, as, with most noble endeavors in life, there’s no quick and cheap way to build a great website. Your time and money do matter, but unfortunately, a Disney FastPass experience is an unrealistic expectation when attempting to design a platform that doesn’t just perform well but also aligns with your brand or business.
Sound like hogwash? Keep reading—this isn’t just another fluffed-out article packed with affiliate ads. The intent is to educate buyers, as well as remind developers of their essential roles. The recent explosion of do-it-yourself website building solutions has deluded people into thinking they can skip the web developer and hit a home run themselves. In the next few minutes, you’re going to see that building a winning website is more complicated than you might assume.
“People ignore design that ignores people.” – Frank Chimero
Before we even touch on the methodologies of sound web design principles, I’m going to delve into the all-too-commonly overlooked steps, beginning with web hosting.
1. Website Hosting Phase
This may be one of the most neglected steps in the web development process. Time and time again, I receive pushback from clients in this area.
First, traditional goliath hosting companies such as GoDaddy pitch their products in a shify way—offering a shiny assemblage of tools that claim to help the novice user—at a ridiculously low price point. They also hide the fact that after the first 12 months, the premium often doubles in cost.
Second, clients usually assume that a web developer’s motives are profit-driven. I don’t blame them. The web hosting market is a billion-dollar business—incentivizing developers to become partners through attractive little affiliate programs. It’s no secret, I’m an affiliate for Flywheel Hosting. I host all my websites with them, as well as dozens of clients’, but it’s surely not for the measly $45 affiliate commision. The value that dedicated professional hosting offers is hard to overlook, which brings us to my last point on the topic, value.
Premium web hosting solutions such as Flywheel offer the kind of support, stability, speed, and security that can’t be matched by traditional hosting companies. I currently have clients who refuse to spend a few extra dollars on premium hosting; resulting in reoccurring urgent emails pleading for assistance with broken websites, email issues, performance problems, and numerous other concerns that frequently occur with cheap web hosting solutions.
2. Platform Selection Phase
This is an area that the average user. There are several solutions available to build a website on such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Then there are the do-it-yourself platforms like Squarespace and WIX. It’s enough to drive the novice user nuts! Here’s where a professional Web developer comes in handy because most of us specialize in a specific platform—WordPress being the most common.
WordPress is still the pound-for-pound undefeated world champion of the bunch. It’s CMS (content management system), stability, flexibility, and community are difficult to match. WordPress is also simple for the novice user to update and maintain. Best of all, the community of WordPress specialists is vast—making it easy to hire a developer in the case your current one retires.
I’m not a fan of the do-it-yourself platforms such as Squarespace. It’s not because these platforms are competing for my clients. The truth is, they make false promises that end up costing people more time and money in the long run—the serious ones, at least. Their entire “pitch” is based around the lie that [anyone] can build a successful website. If this were true, why would BMW, for instance, choose to pay a Web team $100k to build their website when they could hire the CEO’s nephew for $1,000? Even large corporations strive to reduce costs where they can.
In theory, do-it-yourself solutions should work, but sadly, most fail miserably. Am I being dramatic? There are countless blogs dedicated to this topic. Here’s one. Your time is your most valuable asset. Spend it wisely and hire a pro.
3. Copywriting Phase
Of all the aspects surrounding web design, copywriting is, by far, the most neglected. People aren’t always clear on what it is exactly, so here’s the official definition:
Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.
“When you confuse, you’ll lose.” – Donald Miller, Copywriter
From large online entities to small brick-and-mortar businesses, good copywriting is often an afterthought. Instead, companies cram their web pages with unnecessary and excessive information that inevitably chases potential customers away—sending them into the arms of the competition.
Mr. Miller explains that a website should be able to answer these (3) simple questions in under five seconds:
- What does your company do?
- How can your service or product solve my problems?
- How can I buy?
It seems simple enough, yet, so many organizations fail in this crucial area. I, myself, have—many times. Your message needs to be updated and continuously adjusted. It can take months or even years to perfect.
What if your business is complex—requiring a detailed explanation of services, for example?
The online robo-investing platform; Betterment is an excellent example of a company that has mastered the art of simplifying complex data. They provide visitors with comprehensive bite-sized lumps of information with the option to dive deeper if they do so choose. Betterment’s streamlined user experience is proof that just because your services might be perplexing, it doesn’t mean your message has to be as well.
A clear and concise message is paramount when it comes to the success of your website.
If you confuse, you’ll lose.
There it is—my take on the most neglected phases of building a website. Whether you build a website yourself or hire a pro, you’ll need to carefully consider your choices of hosting, platforms, and your words; copywriting, sales copy. Disregarding any of these will impact your website (and bottom line) in a negative way.
Have questions relating to building a website? Reach out to me. I’d love to help.