Developing a new website, or updating an existing one, is a complex process. It usually involves a number of different people. Although the designer is important, your role as the site owner is critical, and before any work starts, you need to write a clear brief.
What to include in your brief
Your brief for your new or updated website needs to include:
- information about your business, its customers and markets
- goals for the site – what you want it to achieve, and over what timescales
- information about your company branding and image – for example, colours and logos
- performance indicators, which you can use to judge the success of the site
- your budget, and when you expect the work to be completed
Website production team
If the website is quite big, you may need to work with a number of specialists, including:
- graphic designers, who’ll look after the site’s visual impact
- copywriters, who’ll produce the text for each page
- web developers, who’ll handle the technical side of the site
- web designers, who’ll make sure the site is consistent, relevant, and user-friendly
- search engine optimisation (SEO) specialists, who’ll make sure the site is found by relevant visitors using the major search engines
- social media specialists, who can help you integrate social networking links and tools into your website
Depending on what kind of site you want, you might also need to use photographers, video producers or illustrators.
Controlling the project
If you have staff who can manage the project, you may want to use separate subcontractors for all these tasks. However, it may be more efficient to work with a web agency that offers all or most of these services.
Once the project gets going, the lead may be taken by the agency or, if you use individual specialists, the designer/developer. However, it’s very important that you keep a close eye on what is going on, and make the key decisions at each stage.
You also need to monitor the budget, to make sure that you get value for money, and make sure that everyone is sticking to the expected timescales. Lengthy delays could indicate a problem – so you need to make sure you know what’s happening and can resolve any issues early.