Category: Web Development

Building a successful website

Who does not want to have a website these days? Every freelancer, entrepreneur, a startup, small to medium companies, and let’s not forget the multinationals wants to have an online presence. Why? Simply because that is how their customers can easily know about them and trust them.

Being in this business for over 10 years, I have seen hundreds of websites been built and rebuilt for one purpose alone – better quality and technology upgradation. If you wish to do one of those “Do-it-yourself” websites, you still might require some technical assistance. Many fail to understand that besides the marketing, website is a whole world in its own and one aspect cannot just make it successful. Here are my 10 tips to building a successful website.

  • Plan for the project
    Take a notepad and start brainstorming on the ideas of your website. This needs to include the look and feel of the website, the sections or categories of the services or product that you have, keyword analysis, and layout of the website. If you are good at creating workflows, design a simple diagram about the website’s structure which can help you at later stages.
  • Keyword Analysis
    Next step is identify the keywords that customers use to search your service or product in the Google’s search result. This is the main and difficult part for most. You need to understand the Google Adwords and use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find the popular keywords related to your category. Select the ones with the higher volume and check each of them for competition in Google Search.
  • Select a Reliable Web Host and Available Domain Name
    Keeping in line with Google SEO, a keyword sensitive domain name is a great choice. The difficult part is to understand whether you want the domain name for branding purpose or for better Google search. Choose a .com domain name because it has an inherent quality of gaining trust easily as compared to others.
    For hosting, choose a company that has the ability to grow if you anticipate more traffic in the next few months. If your website’s success is based on huge traffic, then VPS hosting will be best for you. If the traffic is normal, then a shared hosting account will suffice. Cheap hosting does not always guarantee a great service. So, try to look for a hosting that is neither cheap nor expensive.
  • Build a Website from Scratch or using a Content Management System
    Using a Content Management System (CMS) is the most common choice people opt for when they frequently need to update or expand the website content. If you know the HTML coding skills, then you can build a static basic website that does not have a backend, and is a non-expensive solution. On the other hand, WordPress blog will be best if your website publishes news. Or if you are on a budget, you can choose from hundreds of WordPress Themes and Plugins to build your own website.
  • Website Templates
    Whether it a regular website or a CMS based website, a ready to use template is always a good choice when the design-budget is limited. Do not get caught up in the looks of the design because it can always lead to problems in the long run if you are not familiar with it. Stick with the design layout that you created in the first step. You can add special effects such as animations or Flash templates, but then again, it requires knowledge of the Adobe family.
  • Content for the Website
    The keyword analysis that you did in Step 2, comes in play here. When writing the content of the website be mindful that in order to rank up in Google Search, the usage of a set of 3 to 5 keywords in each page or website section is recommended. Again, this can be adjusted depending on the length of the text. The most important thing is to use the keywords in the Page Titles and Headings. That is why people spend more time on the content writing of the website.
  • Build the Website
    The building process is very limited when using a CMS based website. Other than installing some extensions such as SEO plugin or a search engine module, it is a fairly simple process. On the other hand, when building a website from scratch, the website template needs to be converted in a website. Different header tags (h1, h2 and h3) are used together with “alt” attribute inside the image tags. Do not use Meta keywords as search engines mostly ignores them. However, you can use Meta description as a preview of description about your website.
  • Test your Website
    Testing phase! Once the website is built, it is time to check the errors, issues, and problems in different web browsers. Have a beta testing done by people around you – not part of the project.
  • Website Statistics
    One more step before you publish the website – understanding how you can see the visitor statistics on your website. Software like Google Analytics is currently the best possible solution for easy and quick learning. This software can be used to learn the bounce rate, page hits, views, reach and so much more. All you have to do, is create a profile in Google Analytics and add a tracking code on every page of your website. You are all set then.
  • Publish and Promote the Website
    Once you publish the website, the next and final step is to promote it so that the reach can be increased. There are many ways to do it. You can formally write a press release to your customers or partners about the launch of new website. You can use word-of-mouth marketing, or spread it in using a community if you are part of any. Other than these, there are paid advertising options as well which you can choose from depending on your budget.

    Now that you have the basics of setting up and launching your own website, have a fun time in the world of websites.

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Great collaboration is the foundation of great product

It has been seen most of the time that designers and developers are made to sit in different cubicles labeled as Design Department and Development Department. When a developer is made to work in a corner in isolation from the design process, it prevents the developer to help in crafting the end product. The person who suffers is the end user.

What many fail to understand that better products for the users are only successful when design and development work together in a harmony. It is my belief that design and development work from the start which allows both of them to have a clear vision of the end user – provide the best product to our customer.

Imagine cogs in a machine that make the machine work. When you remove one of the cog, it fails to make the machine work. Developers and designers are cogs in a product that need to work together to deliver the work. When one fails, the whole system collapses.


Great collaboration is the foundation of great product

Change the Pre-historic Notions about Roles

The notions –

  • Developers do not need to be involved in the product’s creatives because it is not their job.
  • Usability of the product depends on the designer, not the developer.
    • It will be waste of developer’s time to be involved in these matters

These notions, to this day hold true in large organizations, where there is a strong line of separation between roles instead of having cross-functional teams. Is the separation an organizational thing or a departmental role thing? The answer is “It is true for both.” Developers see design a thing that is beneath them, and vice versa.

It is only when these pre-historic notions, that have carried themselves to our tech-era, are removed that the distinction between designers and developers can be overlooked, and thus can then be used for mutually inclusive benefit for bringing out a great product for the users.

Design and Development – Not Just for the Respective Teams

Many a times, I have heard developers and designers exclaim vehemently that usability and development is not their responsibility respectively and sign when they actually have to a attend meeting. “We are required to build the engine, why should we care about the page navigation?” claims one of the developers. Or, “Adding a product to the cart is not our job!” signs one of the designers. This narrow view is explained by Paul Boag as “Exclusion of developer of designer from the process will do nothing but prevent the product from living up to the expectations.”

My process is fairly simple – include designers and developers from the start of the project rather than asking their input along the way when required. This helps the designers to understand the restrictions that developers may have when implementing a certain design, and vice versa. Personally, I think that this approach has done me wonders – my clients have always been happy with the outcome of the project and if I may quote one of the client “It was more than what we had expected!”

The internal benefits I found were:

  • Both the designers and developers had appreciation from other’s work.
  • Both realized that they can learn from one another.
  • Less blame game.
  • Shared ownership and pride in the project.

Of course, there are times when development and design teams do not necessarily have to together but what I am talking about is open collaboration between both the teams which calls for designating an emissary.

Designating a Technical Emissary – The Project Manager

Over the years, I have experienced that when all the designers and developers meet, there is a lot of frustration and little or no work. Plus, meetings are boring most of the time. What I have learnt is that, team lead from each department meet with the technical emissary or the “project manager” to discuss the project and the information pertaining to it.

The benefits are:

  • The entire development or design team’s time is not lost.
  • Technical concerns reach the technical people and are timely answered.
  • All the teams work collaboratively and are aligned with the project goals.

The thing to be careful about here is to make sure that the information discussed in the meeting is disseminated to the concerned team members. The communication method is the backbone of the dissemination. Many use, project management systems while others prefer email or skype. In my opinion, online project management system works best so that everyone can see every information in one place.

Involvement is the KEY

The common assumption that once project leaves the design phase and reaches the development phase, the responsibility becomes that of the development team, and the vicious cycle of blames begin. If the entire team is involved from the start – as I been focusing on – the blame never exists. The problem exists only because the designers think that it is the developers job and vice versa.

Therefore, it is important to include the designers and developers in the start – the benefits will start becoming obvious once the project reaches the end phase. It is a simple formula – my formula – “Involve everyone in the beginning so that everyone knows what is going on and what is going to happen – leaving no room for failure.”

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