How to minimize risks when developing a website?
by Ruslan Botnar
Many problems can be avoided even at the stage of signing the contract. The main thing is to know what points you need to pay special attention to. The biggest fear of any customer is that the contractor will not complete the work or some of them. Most often, the first problems arise at the stage of adopting the site's design layout since there is a large share of subjective assessment. One likes one thing, the other another, and the result is a conflict and a delay in the project deadline. In this case, you can protect yourself:
- By excluding from the contract the clause on automatic acceptance of work in case of receipt of the "Certificate of work performed" by the customer in the absence of a reasoned refusal within 3 days;
- Having written in the contract the condition that the customer is provided with three different design layouts, he chooses one option, which is finalized taking into account his wishes.
- As an appendix to the contract, always draw up an estimate for the site's development with a detailed listing of the work and duration, indicating the schedule and cost.
What is it for?
Firstly, it will allow us to estimate the actual cost of each stage of the project and compare it with prices for similar services on the market. And in the event of any conflict situation, you can continually assess the cost of work already completed and pay only for them. Having an estimate will be extremely useful when making advance payments. Most often, 50% of the total project amount is demanded from the customer. And what does this 50% include, how to understand what exactly you paid for? Therefore, in the contract, it is better to indicate the prepayment of only part of the work according to the estimate and not the percentage of the project's total cost.
And in general, it is most correct to pay in three stages: first for design, then for programming, and after that for placement. But the estimate will help to determine the cost of each step. Do not forget to include a clause stating that the site is accepted by the customer only on working hosting in the contract. This guarantees that the content will be introduced in compliance with all the rules, and the efforts of developers and designers will not be in vain.
His Majesty Management
The most significant risk of any project is managers. In 80% of cases, both the success and failure of the project lie precisely in their work. Therefore, it is imperative to fix a specific manager on the part of the customer and the contractor in the contract. Why? The thing is that the contractor often has a well-coordinated working team. Still, this project is new for the customer, which means a new working group within the company, which may not have experience working together. And in this case, only a competent manager or project curator can save everyone, who will be the link between the working group and the executor, who will be able to clearly set tasks and evaluate the results, taking into account the interests and wishes of all members of the working group.
Make everything beautiful!
Let's go back to the most challenging stage of any project - design, where almost everything stumbles. Here you need to clearly remember just one rule:
- To get the desired result, you always need to set the task correctly.
- The more complete the technical task is received by the performer, the higher the probability that the result will satisfy you.
In addition, in the design issue, you need to pay attention to the following points:
- Before starting the layout and programming, it is necessary to separately approve all the different pages of the design layout in JPG format (forms, calculators, catalogs, messages, etc.).
- You should never be limited to the design of the home page and internal page only. This is especially true for such high-tech sites as an online store, where every element must be drawn: catalog, product page, shopping cart, all steps on the calculator, order form, etc. Because everything the designer does not draw will be done by the programmer using the means available to him. And most likely, the result will be far from ideal.
- Separately approve the HTML page layout to ensure that the browser displays the site following the JPG design layout. At this stage, you can also check the site navigation. It should be not only beautiful but also convenient.
Getting started with coding
Today there are several content management systems for sites: 1C-Bitrix, UMI, Joomla, and others. All these are ready-made commercial CMS modules that can be assembled following the needs and tasks of the resource. Their main advantage is that in each module, errors at a low level are excluded, which guarantees the stability of the site. The same cannot be said about self-written systems, which are famous for the lack of documentation, not always correct calculation of the load, difficulties with scaling and modernization. The use of off-the-shelf commercial CMS dramatically facilitates the customer's life during further site upgrades.
It is possible to significantly reduce the risks associated with the unsafe operation of the site by timely setting in the TOR all the requirements for the volume of traffic, transactions, and requests. This is especially true for resources with cumbersome loads, for example, information portals.
At this stage, you have every chance to influence how convenient it will be to fill the site with content in the future. The customer should get acquainted with the CMS even before creating the area and think through the requirements. If we are talking about an online store, where it is necessary to enter or update information about thousands of goods daily, the website must have an option of integration with a CRM. Hardly anyone wants to do it manually.
What about SEO?
Even at the stage of creating a website, it is essential to think about its further optimization and promotion in search engines. If the site was developed without the involvement of SEO specialists, the already finished site would likely have to be redone for the requirements of search engine optimization. And these are additional financial investments and temporary losses! The most common problems here are incorrect page URLs and non-SEO-prepared content.
How can you avoid this?
It's pretty simple. It is enough to contact SEO specialists even at the stage of developing the site structure, who will give their recommendations on titles, search words, landing pages, and keyword correspondence. Considering all the above, the site's design will be adjusted, competent content will be written, and the site will immediately be ready for promotion.
The second reasonably common problem is the loss of optimization when upgrading a resource. This is typical for companies that are constantly improving their site. They do not understand that as soon as they break the old URLs, which are already successfully indexed by Yandex and Google, and make new ones, the site automatically drops in the search results. To avoid this, it is enough to keep the old URLs and enter the optimization checklist, which will allow you to control the optimization process.
Tech Support for everyone!
After the site is ready, do not rush to part with its developers. Include in the contract three months of free technical support of the site after the end of development. This little trick will eliminate the risk that the site will work with errors. Not a single performer is interested in constantly correcting his own mistakes for another three months. And after the end of the contract, it is imperative to conclude a new one for further technical support. It will not be superfluous to indicate in the contract the obligatory provision of "user manual" and "programmer's manual." This will come in handy when you need to upgrade and update the resource.
In conclusion, I want to say that the success of a website development project largely depends on the customer himself and his desire to cooperate with the contractor. Always clearly think over what result you want to achieve, draw up the technical assignment as detailed as possible and set tasks, divide the project into stages, so it will be easier to control and evaluate it. And most importantly, do not be afraid of your even the most daring desires, because, in this world, nothing is impossible!