Web development: 10 tips to build a strong presence

Last Modified: Jul 10th, 2024 - Category: Blog Articles About UX, UI, Research and Development, Development, UX
2968 words, 15 minutes estimated read time.
Web development services agency

Web development can be the ultimate weapon for any business. However, it can also be the worst burden. It all depends on what you do and how you do it.

In this article, we will see 10 tips to choose a good web development agency or how to develop websites by yourself.

Tip 1: Research what kind of development you need

It sounds simple, but it’s a common pitfall in web development. Most people think, “Let’s add a website with this and that, 5 pages with X amount of content, and call it a day”.

About 85% of websites and projects built that way will fail. Let me ask you:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • What is the project about?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • What are your goals?
  • What is your plan to achieve them?

Does the above approach address any of these questions? No, it doesn’t, which explains the high failure rate.

Tip 2: Be open

This is something developers and designers experience almost every day: everyone without specific knowledge or study in the field thinks they are an expert. They try to teach programmers, designers, UX researchers, engineers, etc., about their profession, which these professionals have spent years studying and practicing.

Do yourself a favor: be open to suggestions. They probably know a lot more than you do. If you push too hard, many professionals might say, “Sure, no problem”, just to avoid losing the job, resulting in a useless project and a waste of money.

Tip 3: …but not so open

web development services guy

A development team or freelance developer needs clear guidance. They need answers to the questions mentioned earlier to effectively address the various challenges.

Leaving web developers without direction can lead to conflicts and undesired results. This is especially true for freelance web developers who are accustomed to more freedom, whereas most web development companies have project managers to provide structure and support.

However, you must also ensure that they deliver what you need, not what they think you need. Your purpose and goals should remain unchanged; their role is to guide you on the best way to achieve them.

Tip 4: Web development is not only frontend

Web development: 10 tips to build a strong presence 1

When businesses consider their online presence, they often focus only on what they see—the front end. The front end of a website or mobile app is the visual interface that users interact with. However, this front end is supported by a back end that can be custom-built using languages like PHP, Ruby, or Python, or it may use a CMS like WordPress.

The content that users see is added through this backend, which involves a complex setup of coding, servers, databases, and more. Therefore, it’s not as simple as it seems.

For example, let’s say your site is an eCommerce platform with features like wish lists, subscription lists for mailings, and custom gamification elements.

To support these features, you’ll need a robust server infrastructure, likely using plugins or custom features, and integrating third-party APIs. All of this is managed by a database, and depending on the size of your project, you might have separate servers for your website, database, and email systems.

Tip 5: Is the web development company near me?

This may not seem very important, but it often is. While the global economy offers broader opportunities to start and run your business, many people prefer having a local contact to turn to.

Although we are not particularly focused on this aspect since we rarely work within our own country, our years of experience show that customers often trust a local provider over someone overseas. They value the ability to knock on a door to check on progress or inquire about delays.

If you research common search terms on Google, you’ll find that “development company near me” or “design agency near me” are popular. Similar terms with specific locations, such as “design firm in New York” or “development agency in the UK”, are also frequently searched.

This demonstrates the importance of local presence for many people.

We could argue that we are an agency as close as your computer screen, regardless of geographic distance. However, we understand that sometimes the proximity and personal contact of a local provider are crucial.

Tip 6: Can you outsource web development services?

This is the opposite case to the previous one: instead of looking for a web development agency in your city or nearby, consider outsourcing.

Outsourcing is one of the smartest options if you are in a country with a high cost of living.

This is nothing new. Almost all countries in North America and Europe, especially the United States, outsource services and manufacturing. Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are the main beneficiaries of this economic paradigm. From Apple to Nike to Google and other major companies, most production is outsourced.

The benefit of outsourcing is significant cost savings, even if the hourly rate for an employee remains the same.

For example, let’s say a developer at your company earns $50 an hour on average. A developer working from Bulgaria might also earn $50 an hour. At first glance, there seems to be no difference.

However, for the developer at your company, you have to pay for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, regardless of their workload. You must also cover infrastructure costs (electricity, computer, desk, etc.) and administrative expenses. Terminating the relationship with the developer can be troublesome and costly.

In contrast, an outsourced developer or designer charges only for the work they do on the project you define. Once the project is finished, there are no further obligations. Additionally, you can deduct these costs from your taxes.

Moreover, the Bulgarian developer may be willing to accept a lower rate, especially if there is a significant commitment of work.

To clarify, while I used the example of a Bulgarian freelance developer, this could also apply to an outsourced agency from Argentina, India, Egypt, or any other country.

The point is: outsourcing is a smart solution to get great value for less money.

Tip 7: Before website development, hire a UX company

UX Researcher doing work before web development
One of our UX Researchers doing Information Architecture work before a web development project

Imagine this:

A client requested web development for a highly complex site, for which they already had designs in Figma. There were 28 screens that needed to be interconnected through content relationships.

The web development company, which had also done the SEO for the previous version and ranked the site with more than 800 keywords on the first page of Google, encountered very serious problems while developing the provided design. The only way to get the job done was to duplicate the content, both on each page and throughout the site.

Eventually, the client realized they had made a very serious mistake, spending a lot of money on something completely unusable that would harm their business.

Can you imagine such a nightmare?

We don’t have to imagine it—we were the development company involved. Despite our constant warnings, the project went ahead. Luckily, it was never launched because the client eventually saw the issues with their own eyes and realized the money was wasted.

What happened?

The web designer was very creative, and the work was aesthetically impeccable, but they knew nothing about user experience, development, information architecture, or responsive web design. As a result, the content could not be related logically, it was impossible to access at least 50% of the designed screens, and the mobile design screens were completely different from the desktop ones. This forced us to duplicate the content, creating separate code for desktop and mobile, both of which loaded simultaneously.

This is what is called UX debt, and the cost to the client was very high—enough to buy a late-model mid-size sedan. On top of that, we had to add five months of development time.

Why was this website development such a failure?

Coincidentally, we are both a UX agency and a web development company. But let’s not focus on ourselves; let’s consider a more general case.

The first and unavoidable step is to hire a UX agency to conduct a heuristic evaluation of the existing site, identifying problems and opportunities.

Next, the same agency should create the information architecture (IA) of the site, establishing a logical structure for user traffic flow.

Finally, the UX company will deliver a comprehensive report with all the gathered information, often including wireframes that visually highlight the most important design elements. This allows for a smooth handoff to the designer, typically using collaborative design environments such as InVision, Zeplin, or Figma.

Generally, a UX company in the USA or UK can charge between $10,000 and $20,000 for this service (depending on whether wireframes are included), while an overseas UX agency may charge between $2,000 and $10,000.

The savings in time and resources, along with the precision and correct guidance provided, can make this investment recoverable almost instantaneously, often in less than a month.

Every dollar invested in UX yields a return between $ 2 and $ 100.

Charlie Claxton, Head of UX at Amazon

Another “developer went bananas” user case

Lack of planning in website development is quite common, even among expert developers.

We once had an incredible project for a large software company. Given their size, they had a lot of programmers and coders—over 500. Despite their expertise, the project encountered significant issues due to insufficient planning.

web development lack of planning
Believe it or not, we were able to make sense of this. Still not sure how!

These were incredibly capable software programmers and coders who assumed their expertise extended to web development as well.

They began with a WordPress site. Then, someone decided that WordPress wasn’t sufficient, so they created a Ruby site that encapsulated WordPress within a “bubble”. Not the best idea, but that’s what they did.

A different team later took control and converted the Ruby site into Django, with parts written in pure Python. The original Ruby site, containing the legacy WordPress, was now encapsulated within Django.

Eventually, things changed again. This time, they took the legacy WordPress site (which was inside Ruby, which was inside Django) and displayed it using AngularJS.

After a few months, they called us to convert everything back to WordPress, but this time properly. It took us four months of hard work to clean up four different languages and consolidate everything into a single framework.

To make matters more challenging, they wanted the front-end to look exactly the same, pixel by pixel, and the information architecture had to remain unchanged. This was a nightmare because AngularJS allows the same name for everything (which they used extensively), while WordPress only allows for a single slug.

Long story short: they spent years and a lot of money fixing what their programmers had done.

Bottom line: developing your website without consulting UX experts is a risky bet. The results, no matter how good, will never match those produced by a scientific methodology.

Tip 8: Hire a web development company that also does web design

This is an excellent tip. We used to recommend choosing two different firms: a development agency and a design firm. However, with time and experience, we’ve gained a different perspective.

Most good web development services now include design services. This integration is very handy because the developer can directly ask the designer about specific elements or request additional design features that may not have been initially considered.

The synergy between the two disciplines makes the project run more smoothly. Additionally, you’ll likely save money, as many design firms that offer web development services will provide a bundled package for both.

Tip 8.1: Hire a web development agency that also does marketing or SEO

website development and SEO services
Website development is mainly about making money. See how we added SEO services to a project in order to improve revenue by 58% in last 90 days

If you’ve already created a website, you know that marketing and SEO (or SEM) are fundamental to its success and your business development.

While marketing and SEO are distinct, they are closely related. Marketing guides SEO strategy, and great SEO results are pointless without a good marketing plan to convert those results into customers and revenue.

If you’ve researched SEO and Google’s requirements, you know that technical SEO is becoming increasingly important. As of May 2021, it is a significant part of the Google Search algorithm: if you’re not prepared, you’ll lose a lot of traffic.

However, not all website development companies are proficient in handling technical SEO. In fact, it’s a minority—probably about 1%, and that’s not an exaggeration.

It’s not that they don’t know how to handle it; it’s just not their primary focus. They will build according to specifications, but if you don’t specify your SEO needs, they won’t address them.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to find a development company or freelancer that also specializes in SEO (wink wink) and can seamlessly implement all the technical requirements.

Tip 9: Ask for their customer support policy

Any reputable development agency will offer some level of support, which varies depending on the company and the specifics of the support they provide.

The level of support also depends on the size and type of the project. For example, if you are using WordPress or another existing CMS (Content Management System), the company might offer only basic support, given the abundance of available resources for WP support, making it quicker to find solutions independently.

Ultimately, the support provided depends on the developer company’s policies and your agreement with them, leading to nearly infinite possibilities.

In our company, the bare minimum we provide includes:

  • Lifetime backups: we keep a backup of everything on 2 different servers for as long as possible. If our clients’ sites have problems, we always have a backup
  • Basic training by video: we provide a video explaining how to use different features of the developed project
  • Basic training one on one (if requested): in this case, we teach users how to do things in the backend with zoom or Google Meet
  • Brand guidelines or User Manual: the former applies to projects where the use of the site must follow brand guidelines; of course, we also provide this for branding projects. Otherwise, we provide a written User Manual with instructions and images.
  • 3 months support for bugs: if there is a bug, we fix it for free if it occurs within 3 months of launch. If the bug is actually a functional bug, we will fix it for free no matter how much time has passed. This is in conjunction with our Guaranteed Results policy.

There are other companies that do it differently, or charge a fee for some things, so it’s imperative that you ask before starting a project: what’s your support policy for website development projects?

And always be prepared to recognize that the answer to this question is a game changer. If the support is inadequate or they want to charge you a lot, run as far away as you can. Otherwise, you will be asking for trouble.

Tip 10: Develop your page yourself!

freelance developer drawing

Do you have a knack for development? Do you have a project that isn’t very important (like a quick website for a hobby, a personal blog, or a non-commercial event)? Or perhaps you have an important project but you’re brave and willing to get your hands dirty?

Then go ahead and do it yourself!

While it’s not the most recommended approach, it’s certainly not impossible. Depending on your skills, it might not even be very difficult (I’m referring to simple pages).

You can create a basic site using just HTML5 and CSS. I’m assuming you’re not a seasoned Python web developer, or you wouldn’t be reading this!

You can also implement some JavaScript (JS) snippets. There are many free snippets available online that can help you add features beyond simple HTML.

If you don’t know any code, you can use a CMS! Platforms like Canva, WIX, or WordPress allow you to create a website without any coding knowledge and offer nice features.

For WordPress, there are two versions: hosted and open-source. The hosted version provides pre-made templates and themes.

If you decide to host your own WordPress website (which is the smarter choice) but don’t want to design or code, you can use builders like Elementor. Elementor lets you build a website visually using content blocks. It offers professionally designed elements, so you can create a great website quickly and inexpensively.

Will it be the same as a professionally designed website? Probably not.

Will it match the quality of a website developed from scratch? Definitely not.

However, for small projects where you’re not risking money, it might be a good idea—something to consider.

Bottom line: if you’re willing and able, developing your own website can be a rewarding experience. It’s fun, and you’ll learn a lot. Just don’t try it for a business website, as it could prove to be very costly in the long run.

Conclusion: It all comes down to “be smart”

Let go of any preconceptions you may have. Approach the problem with a clear mind and thoroughly research your options.

Ask questions. Get a good understanding of what you need to achieve the desired results and what you need to provide to the company.

Don’t skip the UX consulting step. It rarely pays off to bypass this. There’s a 99 percent chance you’ll lose a lot of money or your earnings will be less than they could be with professional advice. It’s like hitting the jackpot—you might win, but the odds are against you.

Whatever you decide, ensure the company you choose is experienced and has a proven track record of similar work.

I hope these tips help you make a good decision. If you need to consult with us, we’ll be happy to help you for free!

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