Selecting a web development partner is one of the most critical decisions you will make for your website project. Your developer is responsible for creating the “online face” of your business – enabling you to engage and interact with your customers through the web. It’s therefore essential that you hire the right developer from the get-go. But how do know you who is right for you? This guide will help you understand the web development process and provide some useful pointers so you’ll know exactly what to look for.
Web design and web development: What’s the difference?
Your website project with go through two phases, design and development. Each of these phases works together to achieve your project outcome, and while they will be carried out largely by your web development partners, it’s important to understand how each phase works to ensure you’re getting value for money.
However the most important element that is present throughout both of these phases is the user experience – without a cohesive and positive user experience then the design and development phases will be unsuccessful.
1. The web design phase
Web designers start by considering the project objectives. During this phase there should be a lot of consultation between you and the design team. They will want to know things like:
- What are you trying to achieve with this project?
- Your budget?
- And input from you as to how you’d like the project to go.
It’s important web designers find the right mix between balancing your needs and utilising their expertise to deliver key outcomes. Some principles used by web designers include.
- Contrast: Contrasting sizes, textures, colours and shapes to guide the user.
- Balance: ensuring the website is neither too dark for too light, both in colour and tone.
- Consistency: Also known as rhythm, refers to clean and logical design in navigation and layout.
Once a designer has a grasp on your objectives they will create an IA or Information Architecture which is basically a hierarchy of the page layout.
This IA will guide the next step, wireframes, which are mockups or drafts of pages (or sample pages depending on the size of the project)
2. The web development phase
Whereas the design phase is arguably a more ‘creative’ driven, the development phases are largely technical. Working off the specifications from the design phase, a programmer or programmers will execute the development of the website project.
How well do they know your chosen CMS?
Most web developers tend to focus on building and designing sites using particular platforms. These platforms, like Magento, Joomla and WordPress are often referred to as CMS, or Content Management Systems. These systems offer both customisation and content production, but depending on your development partners preferred system, you could be looking at significant differences in:
- Ongoing costs
- Upfront costs
- User serviceability
- Design and functionality
Ultimately, what matters is that your web developer is proficient in the platform they are developing for you.
CSS and customisations
Cascading Style Sheets or CSS allow developers to modify and control how your website looks. CSS controls on-page elements like fonts, colours, backgrounds, layouts and margins, and allows you to tweak a template to your exact preferences, rather than just setting on generic template styles.
If you have a very particular design vision for your web project, ensure your developer is proficient in CSS.
What about project management?
In any project there’s an essential need for project management under an accepted methodology. While the merits of different methodologies are always hotly debated, any general process is always better than the absence of one.
- Who is leading this project / who is your main point of contact?
- Are they capable of leading this project?
- Is there a detailed and realistic project plan and timeline?
- Are they using a project management tool such as Basecamp to keep track?
Web development, like many things, works better when you measure twice and cut once. So don’t enter into the partnership without first considering the plan.
Check their references
When deciding who to choose as your web development partner, treat it like you’re interviewing for a job. Start with testimonials from prior clients. Check out their webpages and assess the following:
- Do you like their design approach?
- Does their website have sophisticated functionality?
- Does their website load quickly?
- Is their website user friendly?
Many factors when choosing the right web development partner come down to what you need.
- Can your partner make your website accessible to sight impaired people? Is that important to you?
- What about app integration, payment gateways and mobile scaling?
These are just a few of the considerations you’ll have specific to your project. Make sure to ask questions early, and verify the answers through previous work and testimonials.
Talk to the development experts at EB Pearls
Ready to make your next website project a success? EB Pearls has over 10 years experience delivering innovative digital solutions for clients. With a focus on creative solutions and driven by results, we’re ready to help you.
Whether it’s a website, an app, or a combination of projects, our dedicated team of designers and engineers can deliver. Talk to EB Pearls today and discover the difference.