Some of the best websites on the internet now are the result of careful consideration that led to the creation of innovative solutions that achieve exactly what they set out to. For many, they achieved this by leaning on custom web development services, which alleviated some of the considerations that would need to have been made otherwise.
The question is, what are these considerations and why are they important? The fundamental considerations are outlined below. The importance factor comes from the fact that missing one key element could lead to an unprecedented failure.
Take the user experience for example. Global research and advisory firm, Forrester, revealed in a that after 1,500 website user experience reviews over 12 years, it concluded that 97% of sites fail at delivering a respectable user experience.
With that said, here’s a look at what you should have at the top of your mind whenever web development is on the horizon.
1. The User Experience
Starting with the element of the user experience, appeal, and cleanliness should be your objectives. Your final product needs to allow for easy understanding and straightforward navigation.
Many websites find themselves getting the equation wrong because they try to squeeze too much in. This could be in the form of too many blocks of text for example. Remember that attention spans have been getting perpetually shorter.
The reality is that there can’t be too much text today, and even where there is text, you need to ensure it’s broken apart effectively to increase readability. Apply the same principle to your graphics too. Use them, but don’t include so many graphical elements that it becomes borderline distracting just to use your site.
2. Your Brand Must Shine Through
There’s no web design without your brand at the center. Remember that your website should be marketing who you are even at an indirect level. While you may have an idea of what your brand is, it ultimately falls to the perception that potential customers will have of what they see.
How can you use this to your advantage? For one, research will tell you that the human eye will typically begin scanning at the upper left-hand corner and sending information to the brain. That means the top left is where you want to make an impact with catchy advertising or even specially selected imagery.
Bear in mind that everything your site says gives it a voice, whether intentional or not. Are you authoritative, explorative, fun, or something else entirely? The tone and language you select must convey this effectively.
3. Requirements Must Be Clear
Look no further than the software crisis if you want to understand why clear requirements are essential. Custom web solutions can succeed or fail too when what the finished product is supposed to do is unclear.
A proper requirement elicitation process is a “meeting of the minds” so to speak. It’s not meant to be a situation where the development team gets a vague idea of what the site is supposed to do and runs with it.
Web app development is meant to be a response to a need or a gap. The dev team is meant to come together with other stakeholders and establish a clear set of requirements that will work as a functional roadmap to get to the final product design.
4. Design with Efficiency in Mind
Good web developers work to ensure that the site works as intended. Great web developers work to ensure that the site works as intended while being as efficient as possible. If your design choices aren’t optimal, in many cases it doesn’t even matter if the site works.
Is there a database being referenced at the backend? If so, perhaps using a linear search would be fine if there is a small amount of database content. However, you may notice performance degradation with larger databases, which means another method such as a binary search may be ideal since less processing and faster result delivery could be achieved.
As indicated by an Unbounce speed report in 2019, page speed is a purchasing behavior driver. Even in other industries, long load times turn people off. Whether it’s down to data retrieval or just the sheer number of elements on the site, there must be an active attempt to go the minimalist route and you must use effective testing under all possible use cases to ensure that the desired result is achieved.
5. Consider the Target Audience
Sure, you may have a great development process outlined, but who are you intending to be the users of your site? Unfortunately, this is often ignored, or if it’s not, a wide-net approach will be used. In a perfect world, you’d be able to appeal to everyone, but a perfect world is not the one that you have.
If there aren’t enough specific elements to appeal to intended audiences, you may end up not retaining much of everyone. Try to begin by identifying about five key demographics that you want to reach the most.
Remember these groupings can be based on just about anything from age to location to income bracket and beyond.
If you were targeting high-income earners, for example, you could use verbiage and imagery that appeals to their desire for luxury.
Design with the top two key demographics in mind and then the other three to a lesser extent.
6. Features and Phases
What is going to make your site stand out in a world where others have likely done what you are doing already? It’s the unique combination of elements that you bring to the table, and a big part of this will come from the features that you implement.
To avoid creating scope creep by thinking too broadly, divide the intended features into two parts. The first segment is the essentials. These are all the features that must be a part of the finished product design just for the site to achieve all the elements established at the requirement phase.
These are what your users will be coming to the site for. Delivering a great customer experience, however, comes from the additions to the core service. For your second segment, you want to begin to think about the quality of life additions that provide added value to your site visitors.
After you’ve mapped out all the features that fall under each category, phasing is essential. If you don’t have to or if you see where it would be difficult, don’t attempt to implement everything at the onset.
Prioritize a subsection for the first phase and use multiple development phases to gradually roll out other features. This modular approach allows for proper care and testing of each feature.
7. Maintenance Is Essential
You cannot expect web development to be a one-off effort. It doesn’t just end once the site has been created. Think of a site or application you’ve used that felt archaic for the time. While some developers are simply out of touch, the more likely scenario is that there has been no maintenance in some time.
Design principles, security standards, protocols, compliance requirements, and more all change over time. One of the clearest examples of this is the retirement of Adobe Flash in favor of HTML5.
Maintenance is not just about fixing things when they go wrong or trying to prevent errors or outages from happening. These are most certainly among the most important elements of the concept, but keeping the site’s components up to date is also a must.
8. Compliance Requirements
Depending on the nature of the site or the nature of the business that the site is for, there are compliance requirements that must be met. For example, in Europe, considerations must be made for GDPR to ensure that data subjects have adequate protection against leakage.
Wherever you’re located may have data protection laws that you must abide by. Perhaps your field legally requires that certain information on products and services are readily available to your customers and even highlighted. Your website would need to have these elements included.
What about security frameworks? Maybe HIPAA compliance is essential because of your industry.
Think of it this way. There are compliance requirements at the site level and there may also be more based on where you are and the nature of your business. These cannot be excluded from your web design efforts.
9. Security Standards
Stepping away from the compliance side of things, the scope of cybersecurity is essential. Cybersecurity statistics from Norton indicate $190,000 worth of damages per second from global cybercrime.
Even anecdotally, you may have noticed that this kind of activity has been on the rise in recent times. While platform users have a certain level of responsibility in the matter, developers need to work with security in mind and not make the mistake of leaving it as an afterthought.
Some of the techniques that could be used to this end are:
10. Domain and Host Considerations
What if you were told that you could have the best site in your industry and everything could be ruined because of the absence of a good domain name? The name chosen needs to communicate who you are and be logical. Imagine if Yahoo’s domain was “finddailynews.com?”
Does a name like that strike you the same way “yahoo.com” does? Naturally, it doesn’t. You want it to be effective, easily identifiable, and almost impossible to misspell.
Buying a domain from a reputable provider such as GoDaddy is also recommended. Doing so will ensure that you have access to great support and a great spread of site features.
As far as hosting is concerned, let the composition of your business and website guide you. If there isn’t technical support in-house, for example, you may want a provider that can help to fill that gap when adjustments to hosted element placement, package, etc. are needed.
Scalability is another big one. Sure, your site may not have all the traffic in the world at the onset, but what about as time passes? Can the solution you’ve selected scale effectively when demands change?
Note that this is an up-and-down question. You don’t want to not have enough resources in the backend to meet the traffic demands being presented. At the same time, you don’t want to be in a situation where there is a period of low demand, and there are way too many servers or other resources in the background leading to unnecessary costs.
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11. Platform Independence
As of Q1 2023, 58.33% of web traffic is coming from mobile devices, according to Statista. If you didn’t realize before, the days when you could reliably expect people to primarily be accessing your website via a PC are long gone.
That’s not to say that there aren’t PC users, but what it is saying is that there’s now a split. In fact, the trend for several years now has seen the bulk of traffic coming from the mobile side of the fence.
This means that you’re now in an era where you must take a mobile-first approach to design. Thankfully, today’s technology allows you to design for different device types and even use device class detection to show the right version of the page.
From text, to images, to logos, to media, you must spend time thinking about how each subcategory will look on different screens. Ensure that you make the necessary customizations and test on as many device types as possible, even if that means some OS emulation may be needed.
12. Scalable Design
Even outside of hosting package selections, one of the worst mistakes you can make is to approach custom website development based on what the reality of today is. There’s no doubt that the site will then meet your current needs. However, your current and future needs are not the same.
Choosing to “cross the bridge when you get to it” is one approach, but it results in your having to go through another big consideration and redesign process down the line, which you may have to do every time things scale beyond the point that your site can reasonably handle.
Therefore, you’re encouraged to keep scalability at the top of your mind. For example, if you’re going to be serving up the site using cloud infrastructure, using a provider that allows for automatic scaling up and scaling out is a great approach.
Additionally, designing to eliminate single points of failure is also great. The available technology today allows you to put in redundant designs without costing yourself a fortune and doing so will mean that your whole site doesn’t fail when the primary components are down.
13. Customer Communication
Your site represents one of many ways that you’ll be communicating with your customers whether you do so directly or indirectly. These are the people you are creating the website for after all. If they are expected to reach out to you, the site needs to tell them how to do so and set their expectations accordingly.
For example, is there a contact number or an email address? During what hours is support available? Is a chatbot helpful?
You also need to design your internal processes well to ensure these attempts at communication are answered by the right people at the right time.
14. The Social Proof
There is no online marketing in today’s landscape without social media fitting in somewhere. That’s why you’re advised to ensure that social proof is a part of your site’s content whenever possible.
Doing this helps with retention and brand loyalty, and if nothing else, you’re giving people even more reason to support your business. Some of the elements you can use to do this are:
15. SEO Friendliness
BrightEdge reported that 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. It checks out when you think about it. Sure, some people will know exactly what site they’re looking for and just type it in, but that’s not always the case.
Many will find themselves on sites because of the search results they came across. That means you must do everything in your power to ensure that your site is search optimized.
Achieving that objective will come in two forms. First, the content on your site should reflect SEO principles. These include keywords, alt-image text, calls to action, proper landing page selection, adequate backlinks, etc.
On the other hand, you also want to have code that is both clean and SEO-friendly. WordPress is often selected for this very reason, featuring plugins that make cleaning up code very simple, which means the crawlers that improve your search rankings will have an easier time understanding what your site is about.
While this is not a design choice per se, you do want to keep tabs on how well your site is performing in various areas and adjust where necessary. Google Analytics is a great tool to help you in this regard.
You can get traffic insights, which can reveal information such as peak times and where your greatest retention is coming from. It’s good to be able to learn what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong so you can progressively optimize your site.
17. Content and Media Originality
Legal waters can be a scary place, and you don’t want to end up being the subject of a copyright claim. It’s essential to ensure that all elements of your site are either original or that you are legally allowed to be using them.
Intellectual property is a big part of the online world and you need to learn how not to violate it. Sure, creating content from scratch can be a drag, but plagiarism affects your SEO negatively and can lead to trouble.
The same applies to the images, music, videos, and other media elements you may use. Ensure it’s all yours or that you at least have express permission from the creator to be using it all, whether there’s a cost attached to doing so or not.
Even if you’re sure that you didn’t plagiarize your content, it doesn’t hurt to validate its uniqueness. There are tools such as Copyscape out there that will compare your content to that of other sites and let you know if you pass duplication standards.
18. Outsourcing from a Custom Web Development Company
From the previous 17 entries, it’s not hard to see that there is a lot of thought that must go into the development equation. Furthermore, these are just some of the crucial fundamentals since other considerations must be made.
Based on your reading here or even before now, you may have realized that you simply don’t have the internal bandwidth to deal with all of this.
If that’s the case, then perhaps you may want to consider getting your custom web development solutions delivered via outsourcing.
A Clutch survey of 517 businesses in December 2022 indicated that cost reduction and industry experience are the main motivations for outsourcing processes.
Going this route means that you get a dedicated team to provide all your web app development services. This is a group of people who are qualified to take on these kinds of tasks and use a workflow that makes all the required considerations and designs around them.
All you would need to do is provide the requested information for the requirements and validate throughout the design process that the target objectives are being met. Of course, you would also know where to go for your maintenance needs.
The Finishing Touches
Getting from conceptualizing a website to actually having the finished product built takes a lot of planning and execution. Missing just one of these important elements can lead to an incomplete site or one that simply misses the mark.
Thankfully, you can engage a company that provides web application development services to avoid having to address everything on your own. If nothing else, it gives your team the freedom to focus on other important business functions.