How To Waste Money On Your Website: Stupid Idea 3

How To Waste Money On Your Website: Stupid Idea 3

Whether you’re blatantly throwing money away on bad ideas or losing potential revenue by failing to capitalize on good ones, here are some surefire ways to make the least out of your investment.

You want a website. Or maybe you have a website and you want a better one. Grab the nearest computer, sit down aaaaaand…. STOP. Put down the keyboard! Walk away from the desk! Do not be the next smart business owner to make this very stupid but very common mistake.

Stupid Idea 3: Just Start Building The Site

If you have started a web project and have not engaged in a thorough planning and specification development process, go to the bank, withdraw several thousand dollars in cash, then immediately shred it and set the remains on fire.

When it comes to building, redesigning, or improving your website, perhaps the single best way to throw money away is to bypass or sideline the planning process and get right into production.

As a business owner you probably know generally what you want (ecommerce, plus a newsletter signup, and a content management system so you can update products in-house). Maybe you’ve picked out a couple of your favorite technologies (Got to have a Flash home page! Love those JavaScript menus!) You might even have a few buzzwords under your belt and want to be sure your developer throws them in (META tags. XML sitemap. YouTube integration.) But without a specification you’re just standing in a dark room throwing spaghetti around hoping some of it sticks on the nearest wall and becomes art.

Think of your project specification like an engineering blueprint. If you were about to build your dream home, you’d need more than a couple of Travertine tiles, a rug and two bathrooms. You may know what you want but you still need someone to draw the blueprints and annotate space and material requirements down to the precise fraction of an inch.

You would never go out and buy a granite countertop without knowing the dimensions of your counter space. Or order hardwood before knowing the square footage of your floors.

Here are just a few things you may not have thought about before starting on a website:

How will you manage your ecommerce inventory? To start, you’ll need a database, but what information will be stored there (name, price, colors, sizes)? How do you run a discount or special sale? What happens when a customer wants to return a product? What if a product is out of stock (do you really want your customer to find that out when they’re ready to check out, credit card in hand)? What happens if your developer builds an inventory management system with enough room to enter a product name with 25 characters but the name of the product you’re selling has 26?

What content areas do you need on each page? What navigation? How will visitors get around or find the information they want? What screen resolution will most of your visitors be using (do you really want them scrolling left-to-right just to read about your services)? What happens when your designer creates the perfect layout for five navigation buttons but you need six?

Do you want your site listed in search engines? How is that going to happen? Do you have enough content, with the right keywords (and what are the right keywords?) What happens if you later change or remove a page from your site that’s already been listed in the search engines (do you want customers to be stranded with a browser error?) If you are redesigning a site that already exists in search engines, what happens to all those pages now that you’re renaming them, moving them or deleting them?

Even after you’re done answering the strictly factual questions there are still more conceptual questions to consider. What can your web site do to make your business run more efficiently? How can your site contribute to profits? What strategies can be used to generate qualified leads? How can you make your web site “work” so you can work less?

Depending on the type of site you want there could be dozens of questions or hundreds of questions. Even if you don’t answer them all you should at least be aware that they exist or you might be in for some unpleasant surprises long after you’ve invested heavily in development.

Before you invest you want to know exactly what you’re investing in along with the potential risks and rewards. Otherwise “scope creep” and “budget overrun” will become your new buzzwords.

What do you do to make sure your projects stay on track?

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