Creating a new website is a thrilling process. A website can go from back of envelope concept to launch in a short period of time if done correctly, especially if a user-friendly content management system like WordPress is used. However, more often than not a web development project will hit a sizeable roadblock or two along the way, turning that thrill into frustration. Here are some common pitfalls to progress that we have observed over the years.
Lack of a professional design
It is very tempting to dive right in to website development. After all, there is a fair amount of instant gratification involved in seeing your creation go live in front of your eyes with a simple click. As exciting as that is, it is very unwise to dive right in without carefully designing the site. A professional designer will be able to understand your vision for the site and lay that out very clearly before a line of code has been written. By doing so, you can immediately see where the site is going and change your plans when it is most conducive to do so. While it may be fun to get an off-the-shelf theme and play with the configuration options, the odds you will create your ideal vision by tweaking settings is almost nil.
No payment method set up
Every eCommerce site requires some sort of payment gateway. Current popular examples include Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, and BrainTree. While each of these has their pros and cons, it is crucial to have something set up well before the development is nearing completion. Depending on circumstances it can take a fair amount of time to get these operational. As soon as you determine your site will be collecting payments, choosing a payment gateway should be a high priority very early on so as to not halt progress later in the development cycle.
No useful content
Since the content of your website is an important factor in determining its Google ranking, it goes without saying that a site should have plenty of content ready to go at the very start. Unfortunately, oftentimes a site owner will be so focused on other aspects of the site that they don’t have any useful content ready before the site is ready to go live. If content is an afterthought, then the scramble to throw content on the site will lead to very poorly written and organized content. Bad content leads to poor Google rankings and disinterested site visitors, so it always pays to have content organized and created from the beginning.
eCommerce not thought through completely
Advanced planning is even more crucial to an eCommerce site. You may have a solid grasp on the products you are selling, but what about the mechanics of the ordering process? In addition to the aforementioned payment gateway, you will also have to determine how to ship these items. Furthermore, the exact format of the order confirmation emails has to be determined. Finally, will the site use coupons, discounts, rewards points, etc? Since eCommerce sites are usually more challenging to develop than other sites (especially if Magento is used), advanced planning is crucial for a smooth development workflow.
It definitely pays to have all your ducks in a row prior to developing a website. While the temptation to dive in may be irresistible, paying attention to the areas above will result in a better site building experience, and ultimately a better website.