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When You Need to Build a New Website: A Developer is Not Enough

By March 16, 2017May 10th, 2017Strategy, Web Dev

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” blog series.

When considering building a new website, it is important to know what kind of resources you need. Can you get by with a freelance web developer? It’s unlikely, except for perhaps very small businesses that aren’t counting on a website to attract new leads and nurture leads into new customers. There are several areas of expertise you need in order to create a site that will really work–as in the verb–hard for your business.

  1. Marketing strategist. First and foremost you need to be clear on what you want your website to deliver. Leads? Brand awareness? Both? A marketing strategist can help analyze your current traffic and user behavior, understand your business goals, and then help create a plan to create a website that will reach those goals–hard goals like new customers and revenue per month as well as soft goals like impressions. A marketing strategist will also work with you to develop buyer personas and to map the buyer’s journey to make sure that your site will be aligned with how your ideal customer search for help and consume information.
  2. SEO expert. If you are counting on getting found online to generate new business, you need to be current on the latest best practices to optimize your site to attract your target audience. Keyword research, user experience, navigation, content length and quality–these and many more factors influence search engine rankings.
  3. Copywriter. Web content is increasingly critical for search rankings and for website performance. You know your business best, but if you’re not a writer, and you don’t have the SEO expert on hand, you may end up doing more damage than good. Bad content in the form of overly salesy, promotional material will be penalized by search engines and hurt your business.
  4. Graphic designer. The look of your website is just as important as the content. In fact, it is part of the content–visual content–that makes your first impression. Web developers and designers are different professions. Designers go to art school. Developers go to coding school. Good design reinforces your brand and improves the user experience.
  5. Web developer. You do need someone to make the website work as planned, and to work on all browsers and devices. This requires a good deal of development–the amount you need will depend on how much you are customizing your site. There is a great deal of testing and quality assurance that needs to go into a new website. It helps if you have some idea of the level of customization you will require. Will an e-commerce plug-in work or do you need something more advanced?
  6. User experience expert. User experience is the new gold-standard for search engine ranking. Google is relentless in its efforts to ensure and reward a positive user experience. Your designer and/or SEO expert may be up to speed on the latest UX standards, but it is an absolutely must-have expertise.
  7. Project Manager: Websites have a lot of moving parts, and project management is critical to getting the project done on time and on budget. Ideally, everyone involved in the project shares some project management responsibility, which can be fostered with agile project management platforms like Jira and Basecamp. But someone still needs to keep the schedule and communication moving, and to hold the team accountable.
  8. Proofreader. You don’t want any embarrassing mistakes on your website, and the people building it aren’t always the best ones to engage for a final proof since they’ve been living with the site. Maybe you or someone on your team can help here, but don’t underestimate the value of a professional proofreader or editor that will be accountable for any typos or other goofs.

You can see that it would be tough for one person to bring all of these skills to a website project. Do unicorns exist? Maybe. These skill sets are paramount whether in the form of one person or six people, but they are critical to ensuring that your investment in a new website pays off.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Web Development” blog series.