Developing a beautiful and fully functioning website is critical for most businesses these days, however, a lot of companies are often surprised or unprepared about what it actually takes to build one. 

To avoid any unexpected issues as you start your company’s website build or refresh journey, we’ve put together a list of the top five things that we have found can surprise our clients if they haven’t gone through a website project before. Learn from these and your web project will go much smoother.

  1. Developing a website requires a lot of decisions

One of the biggest issues that a lot of people aren’t prepared for is the amount of decisions they have to make. Just like designing a new home or furnishing a new office, building a website requires a lot of decision-making from the client to ensure that the end product meets their needs and expectations. 

The decisions can be as simple, such as what colour scheme they want to use, to more complicated decisions, such as whether to include a date on a blog or not (it has bigger implications than you may think). 

In many cases, the pace at which a website can be built is directly related to how quickly and efficiently a client can make decisions. This can often be very hard for a client to digest. 

For instance, a client may want a website developed in weeks, but in reality, they have a month’s worth of decisions they have to make. 

What you can do: be prepared for a lot of decisions you’ll have to make and let your web team know where you may need their recommendations to help guide you. Also ask more about the outcome if you are not sure. For example: If we choose X over Y, will that affect how fast our website loads or how it shows up on the mobile phone? What could be a negative result of this question?

  1. Preparation Matters

Going hand in hand with making decisions, the more preparation you do prior the quicker and easier the site can progress. Even just having a decent understanding of all the types of pages and information you want on the site can go a long way to making sure the content makes sense and flows well. Often there are critical components that are left to ‘later’ because of an unwillingness to put in the effort at the start of the project.

An experienced web team will ask you to explain what you want the website to look like, what kind of information you want to share on the site, and what they want the user to do once on the site – watch a video, download a white paper, for example.

The more you can do to answer these questions, the easier it will be for your web developers to build the website you want. 

Of course, not everyone knows exactly what they want if this is their first website project. In those cases, share that information with your web team. The great website development companies will help guide clients along this decision-making process.

What you can do: Bring links to some of your favorite websites when you meet with your web team. Explain what you like about each site. This will help all involved understand what you like, don’t like and will help clarify what is important about your next website and why.

  1.  Simple websites still take time

Most people think that the easier and more straightforward a website is, the faster we will be able to complete it. After all, don’t current commercials mention that someone can be up and running with their new website within an afternoon?

The truth is that regardless of how simple a website may look, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can reasonably be done fast.

A task may look simple,  but there are often many elements involved and care must be taken so that is done properly. For example – painting a wall seems simple enough, but there are lots of little things to take care of, like priming, edging/taping, patching, handling electrical or other things existing already. At face value it is simple, but once you dig into it there are many aspects that will require time to be done correctly.

With a website, for example, “simply” changing the layout on a single webpage may result in a full template change. In this case, care will be needed to ensure that the change only affects what the client is requesting, then the change needs to be evaluated on how it fits with the rest of the website style and potential SEO setup. 

The reason for this is that when you engage with a professional website development company, part of their ability to deliver excellence will be due to their well-managed process and workflow.  Add to this they have current clients to service and only have so many employees

As a new client, your new project will have to be scheduled into the workflow. After all, if you were an existing client, you wouldn’t want your project bumped for a new client project, would you?

What you can do: Bring your assumptions to the meeting. It is OK to think your website will take a few hours. Tell this to the web team and let them educate you on what is involved in their process and why they do things the way they do. If their answers make you trust them further, this is the right team for you. Your web team doesn’t expect you to know everything about what goes into designing a website and would appreciate the chance to share their knowledge with you in order to build you the right website on reasonable timelines. This dialogue will also build a better client/vendor relationship.

  1. Cool and slick websites can be fun, but often detracts from your goals. 

It’s natural to want a cool and slick website, but more often than not it can be annoying for the user and isn’t consistent with the goals of the site or company’s style. In many cases, it can also detract from what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t get caught up in trying to create a fancy website. Instead, focus on making an aesthetically pleasing website that is also highly functional and easy to use. It’s all about function over fashion. 

What you can do: Share your wishes for your cool website and then let the web team help walk you through what that means for the development process and your end-users. It’s OK to want something that looks slick, and your web team may have more effective ways for you to achieve the same cool/slick factor you are looking for that is more in line with what you really need your website to do for your business.

  1. Website privacy and security laws apply to you too

Anytime you decide to create a website, it’s important to remember that there are rules and regulations that you must adhere to. For most basic websites that use cookies this isn’t a huge concern, however the moment you start asking for a more complex website that may ask for customer data, it’s important to keep these rules and regulations in the back of your mind. 

If your website uses cookies you will have to let users opp in or out and if you are tracking people’s location for advertising it becomes even more complicated. These are just some of the legal issues that you will need to consider when you are building a new website.

What you can do: Ask your web team about the privacy and security laws that apply to you and be ready to adhere to them. If any seem complex or not applicable to your business, consider obtaining legal advice.

Dan Lefrancois is Chief Technical Officer at 14 Oranges. He has been with the company since 2011.

Top Five Surprises Clients Have About Their New Website