If there was only one piece of web development related advice we could offer you, it would be this: Keep it simple!
It's appropriate to 99% of web development projects, it means you will pay less in development fees, and it means your website will be completed and live more quickly. Surely these are compelling reasons to keep things simple?!
Let's discuss each of the key points in more detail.
Lower development fees
There is absolutely no point trying to do too much too soon. If you are building a new website, and likely some new functionality that you haven't had on a previous website, then you don't yet know what feedback you are going to get from your clients and more than likely you don't really know exactly how it will really work for your customers until you've tested the finished product too.
It's only once the first version of the system has been completed, and you can interact with it and test it for yourself, only then do you really get a feel for whether it is going to work for your customers and whether it then needs any tweaking. Worse, and particularly if you have tried to build in too much functionality without really thinking it through, you may find you need to simplify the process and remove some functionality, and/or you may need to undo some functionality to then rebuild it in a different way.
Website developed faster
If you keep things simple with the web development to start with, then you can get the website live more quickly (less functionality developed, the quicker it is to build fairly obviously), you can then more quickly start interacting and testing it, and you can get it live where your customers can start benefitting from a new and improved website.
The complex developments usually take much longer to develop, so if you can cut out some or all of these elements to start with then you can really get your website launched significantly faster. You can then add these over time in subsequent phases, while getting client feedback on the rest of the website at the same time.
The added benefit of this appraoch in the current market where search engines are so important, is that getting your website live faster means you can start climbing the search engine rankings sooner and therefore get higher sooner too. Realistically you won't be top of the rankings right away, so start the process as soon as possible and then continue to develop the website further as you go.
More scalable and easier to develop further
Your system will be more scalable, because a simple and smaller system is inevitably going to be easier to build in different directions.
The development process will have been slower and more measured overall (because there wasn't a need to get lots of functionality built in a very short space of time - all projects end up being needed yesterday and the more functionality that has been included, the higher chance it has therefore not been thought through as well as it could have been).
Easier to use
It's not necessarily going to be the case that a simpler site is easier to use, that still depends on many things such as the design and structure of the site, but as a general rule it's very likely to be the case.
If it's easier to use, you will likely have happier customers and less support requests, meaning you can focus more of your time and communications on asking clients about the system rather than on firefighting problems.
If the website is simpler, with less complicated functionality (less functionality all round), it will inevitably run faster, providing a more responsive experience for your users, allowing them to access information faster and this is likely to be a significant factor in their overall impression of the website and whether they feel they have had a positive experience.
A better website all round
It's very easy to get caught up thinking that you should add lots of great functionality, and users are all going to use every single piece of functionality and they are going to understand it straight away. This may well be true, but it is far safer to start with something simple, see if users use it, see if they understand it and ask them what else they would like to see included. That way you can continue to develop the site further with the confidence that every single development you add is really going to add value and be used by your customers.
Furthermore, your customers will most likely be even happier to use the site knowing that some of their ideas and feedback have been included in the website as it develops further.
Webigence focuses on 'simple' web development
Through our many years of developing all manner of websites and web projects, keeping things simple and focusing on doing the simple things well, have really shone through as being hugely important and leading to successful projects. It is also important to take more time to plan your web projects in advance.
Encouraging our clients to take this approach can often lead to us earning less development fees in the shorter term, but we are much more interested in providing exactly the right advice to our clients and helping them to be as successful as possible over the long term, and that way we will hopefully still be working with them many years in the future.
We hope you will keep this thought in mind for any future web project.
Contact us on email@example.com or call 020 8739 0030
Blog written by Simon Wilkinson