Developing a website for your organization, whether it is a new project or a redesign, can be a huge undertaking. And a very important one. Because so many different elements come into play throughout the process, it can also take a lot longer than expected to get a website launched. Below are 5 things clients can do on their end, to make sure that the project goes smoothly and stays on track.
Establish Your Idenity First: A lot of clients, especially smaller-sized organizations, jump into a web project before establishing their brand's identity. This can get tricky because your website should be reflective of that branding, and going about it backwards can cost you a lot of extra time and money. Completing your brand identity (logo, tagline, look/feel, identity materials) prior to starting your website's design will ensure that everything works cohesively, and will avoid the need for a website redesign later on.
Talk to Your Team Before You Get Started: There are a lot of people within your organization that will want a say in what your end-website will look like, say and do. If you're a larger organization, different departments may need specific functionality. There is a list of questions that should be answered up front, in order to save time and headaches later on. Will you be collecting any information from site visitors? What are the legal requirments that should be addressed? Will there be a mobile application launching simultaneously or in the future? Does the website need to tie into any applications, databases, etc. being used within your company? Think long term. You may not have the time or budget to develop your ideal site upfront, but if future requirements are conveyed to your design and development team now, they can build a site in a manner that will integrate these future pieces in the easiest way possible.
Form an Approval Team: Ever heard the expression "There are too many cooks in the kitchen."? This can cause a lot of delays when it comes to launching a website. As mentioned above, there are a lot of people who will need to have a say in the functionality and look/feel of your site. However, once those items are clearly defined, designating a smaller team who can provide final approval on all items, is important to keeping the project moving along. When going through a group of people within every department for review, not only does it usually compromise the design, it also makes it very difficult to make final decisions and extends the launch date by several weeks.
Don't Rush the Information Architecture (structure): Getting to the website's visual design, is certainly much more exciting than dealing with site maps and wireframes, but being patient and really dedicating the necessary time to the information architecture is extremely important. Reworking designs or rewriting code once development is underway is much more difficult and time-consuming than making an addition or a revision to structure documents.
Get a Head Start on Content: Almost every web project that we've worked on in the past few years has been delayed because content wasn't ready. Most clients expect that writing, editing and getting approval of site content will go much faster than it actually does. Get a head start and aim to have all content completed at least one month prior to your target launch date.