Steps towards the more ecological web development teams
Contemporary web technology is rapidly evolving together with the demand for online services and more attractive, more functional and faster websites are born. Some fifteen years ago, when the old yahoo.com looked approximately like most of the websites, and people were uneasy with the noisy sound of connecting modems, most of the websites were less interesting than they are now. Because today, it's even hard to find a website, where you will see "Under Construction" message with the same digging dude everywhere - a common practice in those times (why declaring that something is broken or not fully working?). But now everything virtually physical is available through the Internet - information services like news are easily accessed, every respectful business will happily provide all available data about their products and happily supply goods on your buying-request or will provide any relevant information. In this reality the competition dictates it’s own rules, and so the web technologies with qualified professionals and the demand for them -- all together evolve. With the growing demand grows the supply too. There are plenty of tools for web development, both free and non-free. There are lots of amazing designers, and plenty of charismatic salespeople who will promise you exactly what you want and/or need in exactly the right time, and if you’ll buy it right now you’ll get a "WOW" discount. All of that good stuff looks like the direct relation of the amount of money or professional time spent on the website, which is an indispensable service just like Bill Gates promised many years ago. How does one choose the right people, and the right technology when there is a plethora of them? How one doesn’t get lost in the completely foreign world? The short answer would probably be - you'll need some map that you can understand and trust and you won’t be lost. In this article, I’m going to start outlining such a map.
Typically there are several types of the websites, most of them sharing the same patterns and even same technologies. There are blogs, online stores, news websites, banks, brokerages, airports etc. It can be very tempting to think that the more you pay for it, the better you get. Sometimes this isn’t true. One of the possible reasons could be - is when you are dealing with non-professionals who claim that they are, subsequently they can’t approximate correctly the job to be done, and in the end whole project fails. So if you aren’t a web guru, who knows all the trends and at ease with all the modern advancements in the web area, it’s probably a good idea to adopt one as a guide. This guru should be familiar with all the points raised in this article, but if you want to control the situation yourself, you will find here the info you need.
Do your homework!
In order to make our map usable, let’s define the elements which it’s made of -- or, in other words, the elements of which the whole website building process consists.
What we need is to determine:
- What will be the content of your website.
- How to choose the right team and how to communicate with the members
- What technologies are being used today and what’s more suitable for your project.
- What functionalities and design or style you can approximately have for your budget that will satisfy your need.
- Do you plan to maintain and/or extend your website, and who will undertake that.
These are the key questions that should be answered before any attempt to buy a website, so let’s form them into a more extended and informative discourse.
What will be the content of your website.
To define a content, one needs to use functional words. The more details you bring into this description, the easier it will be to estimate the effort. For example, instead of telling something like: “I need a great online shop with a forum and cool front page”, one may rephrase this into something like: “The shop will have five main pages types, or categories. There will be products search, where the results will be no more than ten per page, and when clicking on any result, the user will be redirected to the product page. There will be Our Branches page, where the user will be able to click on any branch, and being redirected there. There will also be the informational pages - each of which should have a promotional full-page ad-like content with no functionality”. The latter description at best, should go down to the lowest-level details, such as where the search input text will be placed, and how it should look like. Don’t worry about defining the visual content if you’re missing graphical designer’s vocabulary. You can always make a snapshot from other websites for an illustrative example.
How to choose the right team and how to communicate with the members
This is true that one picture is worth ten thousand words. Similarly, one experience with a web agency is worth ten thousand recommendations. And It doesn’t really matter what others tell you about the virtues of company X. So where one gets this invaluable experience? A good approach is to have dedicated and responsible web guru who will be working closely and audit the progress of the project. Since any definition can be interpreted differently by any different people, it’s important to have a constant feedback, so the corrections would be instantly made. There is one website actually, which aims to ease on the web team creation process. But for now, steps should be taken, and hours spent on the planning.
Know your people. It should be the responsibility of a professional to look for a web team or agency, and learn about their expertise individually. This shouldn’t be too hard, since a typical web development team consisting of developers and designers can be as small as three-to-ten people. Asking them to show their portfolios may sound tempting, however practically it's of a little value. Instead, questions about technologies being used and how long it takes to complete Y are far more important. These questions unveil the expertise and abilities and allow learning about the creative approaches for problems solving that an individual may face and how he deals with unexpected difficulties. Additionally, the depth of knowledge of the fields of expertise may be very critical, especially when it’s desirable to write a clean and maintainable code, more on this sometime later.
To conclude, remember that you’re dealing with human beings. And as such, it doesn’t matter what we claim with big letters about ourselves. We may say that we are the best and would love to satisfy quickly your every request, but in fact, before all, we’re interested in being paid, we want a normal weekends rest and other usual things that you want. And yes, we all believe that we are the best, but you are the one to differentiate us. So please try to choose the right people before all, and then all of us will sleep better at nights! :-)