Is Your Web Developer a Cowboy?

What do you think of your web developer?

Over the last few years we have quietly, but at every opportunity, been asking this question to business owners, marketing directors and executives responsible for their company website whether for commissioning, developing or maintaining their online presence. We also asked if they were happy with the website that the developer had provided, or if they thought it was bringing tangible benefit to their business. The responses were sharply divided. It seems that the businesses’ experience of Web developers is like Marmite: you either love them or hate them.

Shockingly, over 80% of respondents reported a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ experience of working with a website developer or designer. Many made comments that were very uncomplimentary toward their web developers. Some stated that they felt they had been, “Taken for a ride,” by those who had either baffled them with technology and jargon, or had – deliberately or otherwise – raised their expectations beyond what was feasible with the investment they were making. One had invested tens of thousands with a web development company to build an online presence for their business and now has a website that not only makes no contribution to any business objective, neither has it produced a single enquiry. The overall impression that we gained from our research to date and a term used by more than one unhappy respondent was that web developers are: “A load of cowboys.”

These poor experiences have a knock-on effect, not just for those who have been unhappy with their outcomes but for the web development and internet marketing industries as a whole. It results in an increased conviction that all web developers were likely to be the same, and that there was no-one out there who could be trusted. In addition, the inclination to invest any further resources and capital on online promotion of their business was greatly reduced. “We’ve done that and it didn’t work,” was a common response.

What do the web developers have to say?

To balance the picture we also surveyed web developers and web design companies to see if we could identify what had created this tale of woe from businesses.

Many were unaware of the situation and some were quite frank in their derision of business owners. Common responses included

  • “They don’t know what they are doing,”
  • “We’re not telepathic you know!”
  • “They don’t understand what is involved.”
  • “We never get the right information.”
  • “They keep changing their minds, often before the previous changes are completed.”

Each side seemed to blame the other for what might be interpreted as a straightforward breakdown in communication.

So why does this happen? There are no doubt numerous reasons, but focusing on the communication issue, we asked the web developers if they ever asked for, or received, a web design brief from their clients. The majority response was: “Rarely!” The design briefs received mostly consisted of a single page of vague information that lacked the detail and specifics required. Although they usually included requests for things that far exceeded the budget or amount the business owner was willing to spend and were full of wish lists and ‘good’ ideas that require bespoke development or even new technology (for the words ‘bespoke’ and ‘new’, read – interchangeably – ‘difficult’ and ‘expensive’)!

So whose job is it?

Isn’t it part of the web developers’ job to write the brief? Actually, no it isn’t, it is the responsibility of the business owner to communicate their requirements, their goals, their current situation and future plans. After all, as more than one developer pointed out, “We’re are not telepathic you know!”

In addition, the pressure of trying to keep a small web development business running (let alone in profit) in this ever increasingly competitive industry means that there is no time or other resources to be teaching the business owner how to write a web design brief, even though it would create a better outcome for everyone. For the majority of situations, there is often no clear or effective communication, more a case of asking questions of the business owner – which they often don’t understand clearly, which is no-ones fault – to get some sort of outline and then on with the job of designing and building the website.

Our experience – Web developer

Our experience indicates that the majority of web developers really want to do the best job they can for their clients.

They have the skills and knowledge to build websites that could work for their clients’ businesses. They have the equipment and resources to carry out the work. We also observe however that there are web developers who mistake the functionality of the software that they use for their own creative skills. Ultimately over a period of more than a decade we have encountered very few who would deliberately, “Take their client for a ride,” as some businesses have claimed.

Our experience – Businesses

Websites for businesses create a particular quandary for the business owner, manager or similar. There seems to be a huge barrier of technology and jargon to break through to be able to even speak the same language as the web development world. In addition, it is very difficult for anyone without extended experience to make any kind of value judgement about what is good or bad. Consider a different situation: whether you eat in a restaurant often or not, because you do eat every day, if you go into a restaurant, it is possible to make some kind of judgement as to whether you had a good experience, whether the food was good, whether the service was acceptable or excellent. Of course this is subjective to your own preferences and experiences, but at least you understand what a restaurant is, what it is supposed to do or be for and so on.

In our survey we ask a further question of businesses: “What is your website for, why did you get a website?” Very few offered any kind of clear response, the most common being: “Because we needed a website,” or “Because our competitors had one.” We also hear: “To generate sales/leads/enquiries etc.” quite often, which is at least focused on business, but is nowhere near specific enough to be called an objective.

If it is not common for businesses to even understand what the website is for, or why they are getting one developed, how can it be possible for them to make a judgment on what is good or bad, other than it produces no results. Even this judgement requires something to measure the results – or lack thereof – against.

Management by abdication

In so many cases the business abdicates responsibility for the website to a web developer in the mistaken belief that ‘they know best’. While the web developer knows about websites, they are likely to know little or nothing about the client’s business and even less about the customers who will use the website. Together with the lack of communication between the web developer and the business owner it is not difficult to see why so many websites are poorly designed, deliver bad user experiences and ultimately poor or no results for the business.

Is there a solution

The first step to a solution is to address the communication problem. It is clear that there must be effective communication and the first stage of this would normally take the form of a clear and concise website design brief.

The website design brief

The last time we reported on web design briefs we had surveyed 57 web development companies, further surveying has now brought this number to nearly 100. While everyone does it slightly differently, they all had information requirements in common.

Remember that:

  • The document needs to be clear and concise,
  • The document is prepared for someone outside your business who doesn’t necessarily know anything about your business or industry. Even if they claim to have worked in your industry before, unless they are specialists, then you should assume nothing.

Its purpose is to state clearly your requirements, including:

  • A profile of your business, its existing image, brand and products or other offerings including future plans
  • The objectives of the site – stated clearly in terms that can be measured, not woolly ‘to generate enquiries’ or similar, think detail and be specific.
  • The target market – who will be the users of the site, what will be their requirements?
  • Functionality requirements – often expressed as an outline, and as a business owner you may not be able to describe this well, but for example, do you require online payments and if so are you already accepting credit cards in your business. – remember, adding functionality usually increases cost far more than increasing the number of pages in the site.
  • The scale and scope of the development project – how big, how many pages, who will provide what and so on.
  • What are the project constraints, budget, timescale etc.

This document is not a wish list (although you could include things that you would like to do as well as but not instead of the above), it is the document that the developer works to and effectively forms part of your contract with them and is therefore subject to discussion and revision before being finalised.

In conclusion

The commissioning of a website is a much bigger project than appears at the beginning. Websites are not ‘job-and-finish’ projects. You need to form a good relationship with your web developer because you will be working with them for a long time, and the first step to a successful relationship is sorting out the communication. It is your business, if you have articulated clearly what you want, why your business needs it, and provided all the information the developer requires including realistic expectations, budgets and timescales then if it isn’t delivered to the brief then you can blame the web developer. Otherwise accept that it is your problem, not their fault that they are not telepathic.

Furthermore, you need to take responsibility for the project, but also recognise that the development of a website is a team game, not something to be simply handed over and then moaned about when it was not quite what you were thinking of.

Last word

If you are serious about selling online or using the internet to promote your business it is important to recognise that you need to make a considerable investment of time and effort or you might as well take your money and simply thrown up in the air!

Web Developers & Designers

Web developers and designers are the people involved in developing Word Wide Web applications or distributed network applications. Web designers are the team of workers that work in close cooperation in order to accomplish client demands. The basic aim of the web application development team is to satisfy client needs in meeting all their requirements. Web developers play an important role in fulfilling client requirements.

They are the software developer or the software engineers exclusively engaged in developing the web application designed by their team. Web developers works on the decision of web designers, in turn the web designers pattern the application according to client’s demand.

Basically, web designers will have good communication with the clients and provide a document on the client’s requirement to development team. The developers work upon the requirement to develop exact result of the final project. Web developers had to work on a particular project in one or more tires based on the size of the development team. Some developers participate in two or more fields in order to complete the project in time. The developers are dissevered, for example a group is assigned to work on the technologies sent to the client and other group can be ascribed to server-side frameworks.

Web designing is a complex process and it requires ongoing activity. The web development team works on the basic aspects of design to bring out expected result. They usually focus on the content of the website, usability, appearance and visibility. These aspects are nothing but the expected ones of the clients. They need their website should contain reliable information. They mainly expect their website should be attractive and user-friendly on which the designers earnestly work on.

Web designing team has certain model which contains steps to be followed to produce tangible product that fully meets requirement of the client. Nowadays, development team uses fourth generation language to develop the web applications which are rich in facilities. At the first phase, the developers work out in producing prototypes. The prototype is built to quickly demonstrate to the customer what the product would look like. Only minimal functionality of the actual product is provided at this phase. The prototype thus developed by the web developers are reviewed by the designer team and forwarded to customer for demonstration. Customer and the developer team virtually sit together side-by-side and gets feedback on the prototype that the developer shows the client.

Once the feedback is obtained they are documented. These requirements become the basic requirement of the actual system. Reviews on prototype are estimated by the web designer team, during each feedback issued by the client. The web exploitation team likes to spend most of its time in development of the web application, as these are closest to recent technologies. The technologies of today are more advanced and rich in its feature. Work of web developers and designers are made easy and the product is delivered to the client in time.

Beware of Freelance Web Developers and Designers – They Are Cheap, But Could Be More Expensive

Plenty of startup companies are seeking their web presence through a simple website or an interactive web portal. To accomplish the web development task they try to find the resources on internet. They search for resources using keywords like freelance web developer, freelance web development or freelance web designers. Either they end up seeing some blog of freelancer or they reach to the freelance heaven websites like rentacoder, getacoder, getafreelancer, elance or odesk. Such sites have millions of cheap freelancers registered with them. You may put a project and you can get as many as 50-100 bids for your project in a day. This sounds fascinating initially but it’s just a beginning of process. The trouble starts now. Here are few difficulties you will face at initial stage.

1. You have overwhelming bids that makes the choice difficult for you.

2. Every one of them tells you that they are the best, but hardly few of them are actually telling the truth.

3. You may not find just one freelance web developer meets all your needs, Mr. A meets 50% matching requirements and Mr. B and Mr. C meets 25% each, that increases your troubles.

SO finally you selected someone with all your agreements on price and estimate, now you may see the second largest pool of difficulties

1. The communication is a major issue, the freelancer does not reply emails on time and neither do they remain online all the day because they have their full time jobs elsewhere (that jobs pay the full time income)

2. The freelancer is a lone person but the project of web development needs different skills like project requirement analysis, design the website mockup, HTML conversion, programming in PHP or.Net, quality test and delivery. Normally not one person does all. This invites problem #3

3. The freelancer either asks you to manage other resources for him or he goes and finds other freelancers to help him; that comes on higher price. So you waste lot of time while your selected freelance web designer is busy finding help for him.

4. As I said in point #1, most of the freelancers have their full time jobs, such jobs demand lot of time and energy, so freelance web designers or developers work on odd hours or they just do not work on some days when they are busy with their full time jobs. Such behavior causes further delay to your project delivery.

5. You may come across various excuses for not delivering of your projects, some common excuses are “I am not well since few days”, some emotional excuses like “My mother/father/daughter/wife is not well so I am in hospital”. Such excuses are emotional blackmailing techniques that can make you believe that the freelancer is in trouble while he is actually trying to buy some more time.

6. Most of the Freelance web developers are over loaded with work because of their cheap hourly rates. Such overloading can make you suffer the delay in your web development project. That increase more frustration.

7. The major problem you could come across is that the freelancer disappears after you paid him advance money for your project. Certain freelancers have many accounts created on odesk, elance, getacoder, rentacoder, getafreelancer kind of websites, so they would stop responding you and neither do they will return your initial money.

So your plan of saving money could end up losing money and time, losing time is more expensive than losing money.

How do you prevent this, here are simple reasons to select a small web development company compared to a freelance web developer.

1. The company has long term plan, so web development companies are professional.

2. Company has many resources for web design, web development, quality testing and deployment so your project never suffers a delay.

3. Company has a legal name, legal offices so web development companies can sign a contract with you, a freelancer never signs a contract or signing contract with freelancer has no meaning.

4. A web development company has many back resources so even if some developer or designer does not show up, the company can replace them with other developers, your work never suffer.

5. A web development company takes money on milestones, so your money and project both are secure.

6. Most important point is communication. You can get a good communicating people in web development companies because the manager is always a well experienced person; he takes all responsibilities of problems and payments.

Above all its peace of mind when you work with web development companies, it comes at little extra cost but with lot of amenities as described above.

Choice is yours, select a freelance web designer and ruin your web development project or select a web development company and run a successful web based business.

7 Must Have Web Site Advertising Strategies

Let’s face it, we all need a little more traffic in our life, right? So how do you get loads of traffic to your site, web site advertising. Yes, we have to advertise our business in some way, shape or form to get traffic to our sites and products.

Sometimes this can be very tricky and expensive at the same time. Luckily, your reading this article or you might fall prey to ignorance. With all the different sites and people online promising you to notch advertising, it can get a little confusing. You have to watch out for scams at all times. Take it easy, I have some great tips below you can use when looking for advertising avenues.

Tip #1 Get your name or brand out there by writing reviews on products or services in your industry. Over time and if done correctly you’ll establish trust within your industry.

Tip #2 Write press releases on a regular basis about your business and anything pertaining to the field your in. This is more brand recognition than anything else.

Tip #3 Put up an opt-in form on your site to collect the names and email addresses of potential clients. Offer them free advice via a newsletter.

Tip #4 Write your own e book or report related to your industry and give it away to establish good will and trust with people in your market.

Tip #5 Continue to keep your company name visible in your market via article submissions and blog commenting.

Tip #6 Keep your name and brand in the minds of the people in your market by being where they are. For example, visit and contribute to the top forums in your market.

Tip #7 Use surveys to gather information on exactly what your customers wants and needs are so you can give it to them in the future.

These are just a few tips you can freely use that have worked for many companies online. The key with advertising on line is to keep your face or brand in front of the people so they become accustomed to it thus building familiarity and trust. This should be core responsibility of your business. There will always be competition in your market and if you don’t stay relevant, you’ll lose market share quickly. Your competitors are always looking for an advantage to take market share from you, don’t give them the satisfaction.

Planning A Website Launch: Aspects Of Web Development And Web Designing

Web Development process of a website is a series of steps which is generally completed via firms which develops websites professionally. This is both advised and followed, as web development and web designing needs a lot of technical knowledge as well as expertise for efficiency. But it doesn’t mean that you will be totally dependent on the web development firm for the whole process, you can plan ahead about the website. Get the rough designs in shape so that you are able to convey exactly what you want.

Here are a few tips to help you design your website before the actual web development.

Firstly, know what you want, a structure of website should be clear in your mind so that you can efficiently communicate the same to the web development team that is going to work on the project. This includes both design and functionality of the website. Web designing can be done with as much creativity and originality that you can possibly imagine in your mind. Original and positive ideas always click with the audience, copied ideas can be easily recognized and it will cause a negative publicity about your website. That is why you should know what you want.

Secondly, you may visit numerous websites to get an understanding of all that is possible with your designs and functionality, but this should be limited to generation of understanding on how the web works. Taking ideas from already established websites is always a bad idea. Your website should have a unique quotient, which will be the reason your customers will visit it repeatedly. Web development majorly deals with the functionality of the website and it can be used to integrate different functionality in the website. These will change the feel of the website, and this could be the unique quotient that has been mentioned above.

While making a plan on the website designing, you also need to think about the theme of the whole website. The theme should preferably be relevant to the services/product that your company is dealing. Even otherwise the theme creates an elegance and beauty in the site when efficiently produced through web designing procedures. Nothing too illustrious or dazzling will work to attract customers to visit the website repeatedly.

Also while deciding the theme to be implemented through web designing, the color combination should be considered as really important. The colors used throughout the website should not be too bright that they pinch the vision or too dull that you have to strain the eyes to read the content. Good web designing firms will always give you design portfolios to choose from and they can be a good source of selecting the theme and theme colors.

The content rules the web; you should prepare the content that will be put on the website. The content can be efficiently handled via a CMS or Content Management System, which can be developed by the firm which is doing the web development for your website. When dealing with huge amounts of content it is always advisable to get a CMS developed by the web development firm so that it is easier for you to manage the content throughout the website.

Lastly, don’t think about web development and web designing as different procedures, make your web development firm interact with you on daily basis while planning as well as development is taking place so that they understand exactly what you need and you understand exactly what is being produced for you. Get into the development process so that a clear understanding is developed in your mind about the product that is being developed for you.

Planning your website, before the actual development procedures are kick started by the web designing and web development firm, is as crucial the actual product development so get your game shoes on.