Having worked on some major web projects for private and public sector clients, we wanted to take the opportunity to explain the similarities between developing a website and building a house.
Shining a spotlight on the importance of a detailed brief, as our clients rightly expect more complicated functionality for their websites, we focus this article on the need for clear instruction and an agreed plan if a project is to be a success.
Catching up with our Mobile App Developer and Back-End Manager from 6B, Josh Walshaw, we get the insight we need to simplify a project and ensure that it delivers results.
Josh comments: “The last thing we want to do is overcomplicate the process. When we work with customers, we want to be clear about what their objectives are from the outset. This will then determine the detail that needs to go into the brief.
“It’s like building a house. You can’t just start to put up walls; you need a plan, a design, foundations and a spec’ to work from. All the materials need to be purchased and an agreed schedule put in place to be followed to make sure everything is on time and in budget.
“The same is the case for a website. The time it takes to build each piece of a site, before bringing it all together, shouldn’t be overlooked. Neither should the resource required to make amends when the brief hasn’t been carefully considered.”
As brands have seen the value that a website can deliver, providing a unique online customer experience, they have also become aware of the work that is required to build these increasingly intelligent platforms.
Whether a client wants an ecommerce site with the ability for shoppers to purchase direct or a site that can be used for data capture and CRM, the expectations of businesses have changed.
Josh continues: “Things have evolved so much in a relatively short space of time. Brands no longer want a simple five-page brochure site with gallery and video. They are aware of what a website can do, and they want to make sure their investment is going to deliver a return.
“We have worked on some very large-scale projects and we have learnt that getting the brief right from the outset is essential if we are to deliver what that business really wants. Not only does it mean that we are all working towards the same outcome, but also that we can manage expectations.
“When a client does need to make changes, we really want them to be at the planning stage, not to the design or build. Going back to the analogy of a house, changing the colour of a wall before it is painted is far easier than having to start again or worse still, taking it down and putting it back up again! The same is the case for a website.”
With clear plans in place, a website project can be discussed and delivered using experts to ensure that the necessary processes and procedures are put into practice. This improves efficiencies, saving time and budget.
Josh continues: “The planning process can be relatively simple. First you want to discuss the objectives of each page and what they will do. Then we move on to the components and what we need to build to make that happen.
“Once we have a blueprint of each component and what functionality it needs to have, we can then see how many we require around the website.
“It would be like showing a buyer a range of doors, windows and flooring for a house. There are different specs and budgets. Once the client has chosen their preferred option, a builder then knows how many to order to complete the job.
“Everything is quite modular when developing a site and that is how it should be. What we hope to do is to create components and reuse them. In development there is a saying DRY: Don’t Repeat Yourself. Build things in a way that you can use again, so that you can pass on efficiencies to the client and deliver ahead of target.”
As websites become more sophisticated and accessible through smart technology, Josh explains what he expects to see in the future.
He comments: “We work in an industry that is evolving every day. We have new software and innovative tech that allows us to take an idea and to make it happen. Our clients are forever pushing boundaries and that is what makes our job so exciting.
“Knowing that you are going to be developing a website that will change the customer experience and sales potential of a business is a big responsibility. What we need to do is make the process as simple as possible, while remembering not to underestimate the complexities of our job.
“Working as a developer is like being a multilinguist. You need to speak several different languages to allow you to write the code that will take a design and bring it to life. Our clients aren’t happy with a two-bed semi, they want a house that they have designed and that will meet with the growing expectations of their team and that of their customers.
“As websites become increasingly progressive and the functionality delivers different user experiences, we expect that greater emphasis will be placed on the online presence a company can achieve and also how this will impact on its competitive advantage.”
For more information about 6B and the private and public sector projects we have worked on, please visit: https://6bdigital.com/