New websites or web-based applications don’t necessarily innovate or streamline practices. These tools can hurt your business if they aren’t developed strategically. Opportunities are missed. Time and energy is misappropriated. Money is wasted.
Many organizations keep web developers on staff. But the need for innovative or highly customized work often requires outside help. What do you do when you’ve recognized that your organization needs to hire a web developer for a project? What if it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for? Do you know what your options are?
Passing along the conceptualization process to your chosen web developer isn’t enough. If you’ve chosen good web developers, they’ll double as consultants and will include you (or one of your trusted stakeholders) in the conceptualization process. This is our process at Gulo. And I know of several other web development agencies who also make a point to engage their clients in the process.
Most will just take your money.
Clients often approach web development agencies with only a vague sense of what their business’s new web-based project will accomplish. Such clients are in need of web development consulting first, and the actual development second. Unfortunately, the consulting stage is too often glossed over. And the truth is that few web development agencies think of themselves as consultants, most are all too willing to take their client’s money and start building based off whatever vague instruction their client has given them.
But it’s not surprising that many companies don’t reach out to web developers for assistance in the conceptualization stage.
Their fear is simple (and justified):
What if a web developer sells us on something we don’t actually need?
This situation is no different than when someone who is woefully ignorant about vehicle maintenance, like myself, finds himself at the local auto shop. Professionals who understand a very specific and technical type of work can sniff out those who do not. In this case, the mechanic is in a position to potentially over charge me, or sell their helpless prey on any manner of unneeded work. I hate being in this position. But such fears don’t change the fact that my car needs a pair of eyes more trained than my own, just like web developers are sometimes needed to build out your company’s web-based tools.
These fears are the very reason that there is less strategic consulting in web development projects than their ought to be.
But you can avoid this trap.
Web applications, no matter how flashy or well built they might be, can be a double edged sword. They cut you when they are built without proper consideration for the role they play in servicing your business’s bottom line. A developer needs to work with the client, clearly defining what goal(s) the project is building towards, be it revenue generation or more efficient teamwork. If a project is multifaceted, developers must consider: how are these applications working together, towards the business or organization’s bottom line?
It’s worth keeping in mind that web developers build websites and web-based tools for every industry. It provides them with unique insight. The best development houses learn about each industry they build tools for, and they use their experience to provide strategic counsel.
Once a business has built its website or application, their business model can become irrevocably attached to these new tools. Projects such as e-commerce functionality, Salesforce integration for a sales team, internal training tools, or thousands of others, can become deeply embedded in a business’s structure. And one poorly constructed piece can slow down, or even sink, the ship.
You want a web development team that takes the time to learn how each project factors into your bottom line and day to day practices.
Strategic web development takes time and careful deliberation. But it really can be as simple as taking the extra time to speak with your web development team. Web developers can’t even begin to build something worthwhile until they understand exactly how the project will service your business’s bottom line. If they aren’t interested in learning what drives your company, find another developer immediately.