4 Problems With Web Development Projects, and How We Are Tearing Our Hair OUT!!!!
Did you notice? The world’s a different place. Rules for doing business have changed—no one seems to be bothered about keeping to their word, OR is it just website developers that have lost the plot?
We’ve been listening to the voices in our heads, we have pointed to contractual agreement, we have tried fighting, angry emails, tender loving emails lol! Nothing works, HELP! We are behind schedule and nothing seems to indicate that our website will be up and running in time to meet numerous deadlines. Web development has been broken for quite a while! It’s a wonder any sites get done at all. Here are 4 problems with the way web projects are typically done. We’ve experienced all of these issues, but more importantly, we are struggling with trying to slove them. We thought having knowledge before hand of the problems was going to help, it evidently hasn’t totally helped and we are frustrated.
Problem 1: Everybody says agree to a cost upfront with your developer.
This seems to be our only success. We have been able to stick within the dictates of our initial budget. It was very reasonable from the start and suits what we are trying to accomplish. We focused on prioritizing features, and making sure the critical ones are done first before the budget is exhausted. Prior knowledge of budget management has worked to our advantage and remains our only success with the ‘web developers’.
Problem 2: Define requirements clearly.
“If you’ve hired a company for web work in the past 15 years, you’ve probably learned that you need to be extremely specific and detailed about what the finished site needs to look like, and how it needs to operate”.
How else can we explain to our developers to do exactly what we want? They seem to have their own ideas of how things should operate and go ahead to incorporate their own ideas regardless of how many times you scream NO, or in our case ‘No Please’.
Problem 3: It takes FOREVER to launch the new site.
We have decided to create a new web site, identified the requirements, gotten the developer all lined up and started, something funny happens. The developer… disappears, okay nothing really that dramatic. But he decides when he wants to drop Off the face of the planet. We, as the customer, have no idea what happened. One or two weeks later, we decide to call, and they’ve done part of it—but had other clients asking for work and so they haven’t gotten to it yet. Two months later, they’ve gotten close, and there is something to look at, but it still needs a lot of polish. So we try hard-core complaining and fighting, we try to be patient, we try everything but nothing seems to work. Five months down the road, you’re starting to work on content. Maybe a year down the road, with a little push of effort, some luck maybe and the site launches—but by then aren’t we going to be too tired and weak to even argue anymore? I bet it will just be a relief to launch, and we would be so eager to just move on. I hope it doesn’t take so long, arghhh!
Problem 4: They never tell us that a site is never really done when it’s launched.
You got the site launched, but it’s not perfect. You’re mostly happy with it, but there’s a couple more things you’d like it to do, and you’re done with the developer. Even if you could get them to do more work for you, you really don’t want to—you know they’re going to charge extra to try to make up some of the extra cost they swallowed to get the site launched.
And there’s a whole list of other things you’d like to get done at some point in the future—but at this point, you need a break. Soon, your site starts collecting cobwebs. There’s a bunch of spammers who have signed up for user accounts. Your email form is collecting spam. You turn off comments because it gets spam. And after a year or so you start looking for a new developer, and go through the whole damned process again—and probably end up with the same result. I so hope not.
There are two basic notes of advice for web based businesses to take onboard according to Freelock News, 01/26/2011:
Advice 1: Make the web site launch the start of the project, not the end.
The launch of a new web site is a big milestone, for sure. But you don’t get all your customers or all of your site visitors on the first day the site is launched—you’re going to get far more of them over time. No matter how meticulous you are, no matter much time you’ve spent painting your shop, arranging your merchandise, setting everything up, your opening day is just one day.
Advice 2: Plan and budget for upgrades.
Ok, I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret about content management systems: They cost more. I don’t care what your developer told you up front that by being able to update content yourself, you won’t have to pay them to update content on your site. While that’s true—you can update the content yourself—you’re going to have to pay somebody to keep that program up-to-date. And it’s going to cost more than having a static site.
But hey, you’re not getting a content management system to save money (I hope). You’re doing it to get more business. If you don’t have to wait for a developer to put up a special offer that brings customers in the door, and it’s easy to do, you’ll run more web specials and get more business. If you’re investing some of your time and marketing resources to use your web site effectively, you’re going to need help with the technical stuff—somebody has to do it. It shouldn’t be the business owner or the marketing person—they should be thinking about what to do to reach more customers or provide better service. It could be a tech savvy employee you have—but are they keeping up with every little security update that comes out that might affect your site? And what are you paying them? You might as well outsource these functions to a company that provides this maintenance for a bunch of other sites, who has streamlined the upgrade process, has decent backups and ability to roll back things that break, and knows where actual attacks are happening.
We are crossing our fingers that despite the fact that websites with loads of engineers still get hacked, http://www.totesphere.com will be secure and would not need updates or any other ‘fanciness’ once our developers are finally done. Whew!
We hope this has been a fun read, have a wonderful weekend 🙂