Building a website is very much like building a house. It takes a lot of planning and preparation and requires a crew of skilled workers to build it. When done right, they both result in something that is built to last and perform. If not, they can fall flat.
When I hear about website developments or redesigns, I often see the same mistake happen repeatedly—neglect to hire a full crew of experts. Like a home build, a website requires many different skill sets to build it properly. I believe this mistake happens not because of a desire to cut corners, but because of a lack of clarity around the value each crew member brings to the project.
So, while it may not be exhaustive, here’s a list of some of the key experts (in my opinion) to have on your website development or redesign team and how to get the most out of their role:
1. The Web Designer
This person is responsible for the look and layout of the website. They are similar to a graphic designer in their creativity, but they design specifically for online functionality. This person will create wireframes and mockups to show what the site will look like. They are also responsible for creating the design elements and selecting the imagery to implement into the website.
The value of this person is obvious. At a minimum, they should deliver a visually appealing website that aligns with the organizational brand and modern design trends.
To get even more out of this role:
- Make sure the designer creates mock-ups of mobile and tablet versions for your site as well as a desktop version. Moving forward, the mobile design will likley be more crucial to business success online than desktop.
- Ensure the Web Designer knows the target audience, the business outcomes you expect from your site, and the most important calls to action so that the site is designed to support these priorities.
2. The SEO Expert
A critical role in website development is that of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Expert (yes, I may be a bit biased here). Without this role, a beautiful and perfectly developed website might not ever be seen. This would be like building a magnificent custom home and never sending out the invites to your Open House party.
The SEO Expert provides valuable guidance on everything from information architecture to content to technical setup to analytics, and is responsible for how the website performs to meet business goals once it’s launched.
To get the most out of this role:
- Involve the SEO Expert from the very beginning when you’re first planning your website.
- Make sure this person works closely with the other team members to ensure SEO best practices are in place so the site can deliver on the desired business outcomes.
- My tip is to ensure there are recurring ‘all party’ calls/meetings to check-in and discuss the website progress and avoid any work happening in silos (to avoid rework).
3. The Copywriter
The Copywriter fills the pages of a website with content that is engaging and relevant to visitors. When done well, content is one of the most essential elements of a website and will play an important role in pulling people through the website, persuading them to set up an account, or compelling them to share what they’ve read with others. The Copywriter should be armed with the brand guidelines of the organization to ensure that they write in the proper ‘voice’ of the organization.
To get the most out of this role:
- Make sure the Copywriter knows who the primary audience personas are for the website so that the content is written with the reader in mind (user intent).
- Provide the Copywriter with keyword/topic research and audience intent from the SEO Expert to incorporate into the content to enhance the ‘search friendliness’ of the site.
- Connect this person with the designer and the SEO Expert to ensure the content is laid out properly on each webpage and has the right length and word count to both read well and look great.
4. The Developer
This role is what takes all the output from the other roles and turns it into a fully-functional website. The Developer will recommend a Content Management System (CMS) for the website and will complete all the necessary coding. Prior to going live, the Developer will also test the site to ensure everything is working as it’s supposed to (ex. speed, mobile, browsers) and will conduct the necessary fixes until it’s ready to go.
To maximize this role:
- Make sure it is clear why they have selected the CMS they’ll be working on and ensure that it can be easily maintained after the site is launched or that you’ll be given training so you can update it yourself.
- Confirm what the ongoing costs will be for the website so there are no surprises down the road.
- Ensure the Developer and the SEO Expert are both involved in the analytics for the site so that you end up with reports that will track the business outcomes you specified for your site. There are often simple analytics and SEO plugins for each CMS; however, out of the box they won’t necessarily do the things that are specifically important to your business, which will make it difficult to assess whether your website is performing the way you need it to.
5. The Webmaster
Every site requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance following a website development or redesign. CMS upgrades, backups, site outages, broken links, domain registrations, software updates, and changes to copy will all come up at some point, so make sure you know who will be responsible for addressing them.
Sometimes companies that build websites also offer ongoing maintenance or will provide training to you or your staff. But they may also view their role as complete the second the website is launched.
To set this role up for success:
- Make sure you’re clear on responsibilities and expectations and have someone dedicated to fulfilling them.
- Also, ensure you clearly understand the costing of this ongoing relationship.
Build The Team, and They Will Come
It takes skill to plan, design, and build a truly well-performing website. The most important thing to remember when you’re assembling your website development team is that you’re building a team of experts. They all have an important role to play and if they work together to build your vision, ‘together’ being the key, you’ll have the greatest website on the block!
Have you recently gone through a website build and it didn’t turn out the way you planned? Or are you in the process of planning a website development or redesign and not sure where to start. Share your story or get in touch with one of our experts for a chat.