I will begin this post with my definition of Website Development Hell:
A point at which crucial decisions must be made and actions taken in order for a website to be completed. It indicates that a project has been stalled for an extensive period of time, typically far longer than was expected at the outset. This is generally coupled with a lack of a clear view of how or when the website work will be completed.
Through my experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide selection of companies ranging from “one-man shows” to brand name corporations. Regardless of the size of the business in question, I have come to realize that getting from the consulting phase to the launch phase tends to drain many people.
That’s understandable since small businesses are busy trying to run their companies and websites aren’t perceived as being a priority (even if they should be). Larger companies often get delayed because they need to allocate personnel and financial resources, get approvals from multiple individuals who frequently have their own opinions and agendas on what should go into the company’s website and Internet marketing program, and other happenings that slow projects down.
Web Development is a Process
I can easily visualize what a company needs to do to get from pre-production to launch but that’s mainly because I do this for a living and I’m all about keeping progress in check and maintaining order. I don’t expect everyone to understand the process fully but it is important to get the project moving so you can launch! Whether it’s a new website, an freshly optimized site, or custom programming, all stages of website development are part of a process. That said, I recommend that you treat it as such!
Website Heaven Awaits!
Between some of my own clients and discussions with fellow web designers, I’ve come to realize that there are countless website projects that are stuck in web development hell. Here are some steps to go through to get to that heavenly feeling when a website (or web-related section, product, or service) launches:
1. Stop Procrastinating
One of the worst things you can do is avoid the subject altogether. If your website is dragging painfully along, you need to take action. It is rarely as painful as you might think!
2. Figure Out What You Need
Web development hell is perpetuated by a number of issues. These often include a lack of understanding of the needs, running out of funds, not being able to decide on what pages are needed, avoidance of writing text, and not being able to find suitable photos (for website templates as well as for products in e-commerce websites), among others.
You need to scale down the project to basics. Perhaps you have too many ideas for custom programming that aren’t really needed. Trim the fat! Ask yourself: Does this add value to the website? If you aren’t sure, ask your web design company as well as friends and colleagues.
Further, if you’re stuck on a design that you don’t like, ask for a new design or consider hiring a new designer. Hopefully your contract has a clause regarding designs. In some cases you may have to expense the loss and then move on.
3. Make Decisions
Make your final decisions regarding the little details . If you can’t decide on colors, fonts, layouts, pages, or other issues, ask your design company for help. At some point, you have to let go of your romantic visions of how you will have the world’s greatest website. Accept high quality work and be realistic. If you hired the wrong company, cut your losses and move on.
If you run a small business, figure out who is the most relevant person to work on the list of needs that you and your web design company have established.
5. Estimate Completion Times
Break down your needs and try to estimate how long it will take to complete each task. If you need editing, consider asking your receptionist to go over the text if that’s what it takes. Remember that you are in hell and you want to get out as soon as possible! The longer your website or particular aspect of your website is down or not launched, you’re losing money.
If you need to write text, prepare an outline of the pages and get to it! Try your best to figure out what to write and how long it’s going to take. There’s no shame to be felt if you think it will take months since most people aren’t good writers. That said, months is a long time so consider hiring a professional website content writer. It may cost more but think of the return on investment potential when you have your website up and running sooner rather than later.
6. Implement the Changes
What web development companies usually wait for from their clients is content. This content is almost always text and/or images. Prepare your documents, send them to your web designer and get an estimated readiness date.
Don’t worry about how you wanted to add this page or that image. Once the basics are complete in a proper manner (e.g., no typos, great design, user-friendly, SEOed, etc), it’s time to launch. A website is always under construction in a sense, so don’t worry about the next step. Launch and take a breather!