One amazing thing about today’s digital landscape is that just about anyone can start an online business. No matter what your idea is, you can turn that abstract idea into a concrete web property — with the help of a strong development and design team, of course.
However, not all web development deals are created equal, so entrepreneurs must protect themselves and their potential products when pairing up for the project at hand. Some business owners get lucky on their first try, while others find their pockets empty and their website full of compromises they never intended to make.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out what they asked for — or forgot about — when building their own company websites:
“What’s one thing a business owner building a new website MUST demand from their development/design team?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. My Content Management What?
“In general, a website should be user-friendly for its owner(s). I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who overthink and overspend on their website when a common CMS (content management system) like WordPress or Drupal would’ve work just fine.” ~ Derek Shanahan, Foodtree
2. User-Friendly Interface
“In their attempts to add on all the bells and whistles, business owners can lose site of a good user experience. Simple navigation, uncluttered design, and quick load time are key.” ~ Steph Auteri, Word Nerd Pro
3. Style Through Simplicity
“Consumer ADD is only getting worse. Web development teams must not only know how to create through programming, but they must also be passionate about consumer behavior. More is not better. Developers should aim to marry style and simplicity to avoid stirring feelings of overwhelm or distraction.” ~ Kent Healy, The Uncommon Life
4. Where’s the Accountability?
“Without tight accountability to deadlines and deliverables, the business owner may end up with a site and design that does not meet expectations. It’s best to document each deliverable, whether web page or graphics, with as much detail as possible so each side has a point of reference. Then the owner can hold their team accountable and avoid ‘he said, she said’ debates.” ~ Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
5. Mobile Compatibility
“You need to ensure your website looks good on the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, etc. Mobile web usage is growing at a massive rate, and it’s important that your business website is accessible and easy-to-use on handheld devices.” ~ Matt Mickiewicz, 99designs
6. Follow the Blueprint
“If the developers provide a comprehensive blueprint, it will help to keep them on track and will leave them accountable if tasks take significantly longer than estimated.” ~ Josh Weiss, Bluegala
7. Here’s an Example
“New website builds go well when there’s smooth communication with technology and design teams. Often, the jargon, design or tech development can differ greatly from how a businessperson would describe something, so make sure there are no errors by reviewing examples. Adding a feature or design element? See how the feature or elements work on existing, comparable sites first.” ~ Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.
8. Critical Response
“The team should have an understanding of how the site will achieve its most critical response. A good aesthetic is important, but it means nothing if it’s not directly tied to how a lead will be captured, what happens to that lead and, ultimately, how a sale is made (ideally automatically without direct team involvement). This allows you to scale your marketing and customer acquisition method.” ~ Yanik Silver, Maverick1000.com
9. Social Is Necessary
“Every website these days should have a social aspect to it, whether it’s simply adding a Facebook Like Box or integrating a gameification platform. It’s important to stay up to date with the latest social plugins that can be added to your site.” ~ Ben Lang, EpicLaunch
10. Rapid Iteration
“The design/development organization should be structured in a way that encourages rapid development and deploying of the site. Etsy is a great example of this culture. They make small, frequent changes to the live site on a daily basis and have open-sourced their methods for other developers to use.” ~ Jennifer Vargas, Accompl.sh
11. Ownership of All Assets
“As you concern yourself with the look and feel of the website, you might overlook some of the legal aspects involved. For example, if you don’t specify outright that any logos or creative designs made are completely yours in an initial agreement, you could end up in a legal battle over which party actually owns the materials on your website.” ~ Logan Lenz, Endagon
12. Control Over Your Control Panel
“If you are handing over the responsibility of finding a host and registering your domain to your development/design team, ask that you are the primary administrator over your control panel. This gives you the ability to remove the user if the relationship goes sour. In the same light, always make sure that whoever registers a domain for you is doing so under your name and contact information.” ~ Jennifer Donogh, Young Female Entrepreneurs
13. Get Ready for the Next Developer!
“Your development team will change at some point, whether you simply expand your development team or even switch developers. As with all resources in a startup, development time and money should be treasured. Make sure that your development and design teams leave a very clean and annotated back-end system so that new folks can build upon the work!” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
Website Build Photo via Shutterstock