Building a business website used to be a much more basic affair: the options for both developing and content were much simpler, with far fewer variables, and content management systems tended to be little more than simplified HTML editors. Technology has come a long way since then though, in terms of delivery, audience, and services provided, so an integrated approach to design and development in 2018 is important, both in the short and long term.
In terms of practical functionality, the advance in content management systems is perhaps the most important aspect to keep in mind. From the start, deciding what framework you want your website to be built around is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, as it will impact on the day-to-day running of your website as well as its look and feel, and it’s often very complicated to change it later on. Take a popular system like Wordpress: what started out as a blogging site now offers a vast range of services and options, with many third-party developers creating highly customizable templates to take advantage of Wordpress’s native scalability, content management system, and solid back-end support. There are also many plug-ins and modular services available, from chat boxes to news tickers.
Using template-based systems isn’t for everyone though, so careful thought needs to be put into the framework around which you’ll develop your website. Whether it’s specific functionality you want, or just a custom website that offers something a bit different, most larger companies choose to have a site developed specific to their needs. When you choose to get a custom development, it’s important to keep in mind a few things to make sure your website is just as functional and professional as any other.
Considering the design aspects of your website should be at the beginning of the process, (after you’ve honed your digital marketing strategy and SEO requirements, of course). You have a product or service, and a particular audience for that product or service: how can you combine the two in the simplest way possible? That overriding consideration should drive the heart of your design requirements, and with it, your options for development will become clearer. While not every website needs to be updated every day, regular new content and updates are proven to keep people coming back – whether it’s as simple as news about your product, or more in-depth content that will draw new users to your site. Combining these two considerations, alongside a realistic understanding of the resources you have available, will go a long way to narrowing down your options for a development framework. It can sometimes be beneficial to outsource the planning for your digital marketing strategy with services like Big Fat Links, as it can be very tricky to get it right.
Knowing your audience is also essential. If your product or service is something that people will want to be able to access on the go, you’ll need to weight your development towards mobile users – but will you go for a responsive site, or a separate mobile site? Both options have valid reasons for choosing them, from clarity of design to platform compatibility, and the choice will generally need to be made right at the start of your development journey. Or perhaps your product is more aimed towards desktop functionality: does your platform allow you to integrate with customized browser plug-ins, desktop notifications, and instant messaging systems?
All in all, having a carefully planned website has never been more important. The framework on which it is built will heavily dictate its functionality; knowing what you want it to do will save time, effort, and money in the future, so considering design and development together Is essential.