5 Ways to Avoid a Web Development Disaster
I have been a part of numerous web development projects during my time in the web space. This includes involvement in my own personal projects as well as contributions made to help others get their websites up and running. Along the way, I have seen and made my fair share of mistakes. While some mistakes are like small, insignificant bumps in the road, others are more like huge potholes that put your ride to the top in jeopardy.
There are some pitfalls, that if not avoided, can make success very difficult, if not impossible to achieve. This post will explain how you can steer clear of them and in the process, avoid a disastrous situation.
1. Have a Game Plan
Far too often, web development teams approach a project with the mindset of “if we build it, they will come”. This line of thinking is nothing but a quick route to failure. The one thing I have learned about establishing a web presence is that creating a website and building a successful website are two entirely different things. What I’m trying to saying is that even the best looking and most functional site can fail without planning. The lack of proper planning could have you pouring all your finances into development with very little left for marketing.
2. Abide by Web Standards
Internet marketers follow set of best practices. Web developers follow a set of web standards — or at least they should. The standards recommended by independent bodies such as the W3C, IETF, and Unicode Consortium dictate how the web should be built. These standards tell us that when building our websites, we should be doing things like:
– Properly using technologies such as HTTP and MIME to deliver web pages.
– Keeping mobile browsing and navigation in mind.
– Designing for optimal performance.
– Ensuring that web servers are properly set up on the back-end.
For developers, following web standards isn’t just about abiding by the rules. It’s about creating a better experience for the web user. In addition, these standards make websites easier to build, navigate, and index for search engines.
3. Develop with Bandwidth in Mind
Although it’s great to have access to resource-loaded dedicated servers or virtualized containers at least, not all developers have that luxury. Some of us have to test our applications on local servers that are nothing more than glorified PCs. If this sounds like your situation, I hope you’re keeping bandwidth in mind. Bandwidth issues don’t normally crop up in the local environment, but they surely will when your site goes live. Failing to consider that bandwidth is essential to the rich, interactive experiences visitors desire is a performance nightmare waiting to happen.
4. Make SEO a Development Priority
Some organizations look at website creation and optimization as two different entities — one made for the development team, the other reserved for the marketing department. No matter how common this line of thinking may be, just know that SEO becomes much harder when you wait to optimize after the site is up and running. Build a solid internal link structure. Insert relevant keywords in your URLs, ALT text, and metadata. In other words, incorporate your SEO strategy at the start of your development project.
5. Test Early and Often
One of the biggest web development mistakes is halfhearted testing. I don’t mean just testing your pages and applications to make sure they function online as they do locally. I’m talking about conducting extensive testing to make sure they work across the board. The site that looks and performs like a champ in one browser could look like a jumbled mess and perform even worse in the next. Different browser programs. The never-ending cycle of updates for those programs. Mobile browsers — it all points to the importance of dedicated testing.
Disasters are not limited to novice developers. They can and have hit seasoned professionals who have been doing this stuff for years. While avoiding mistakes entirely can be difficult for even the most experienced developers, they can be kept to the bare minimum. How? By planning before you begin, building based on the best practices of development, paying special attention to essential web components like bandwidth and SEO, and taking the testing process serious. A foolproof strategy equals disaster averted.
Have you been the victim of a web development disaster? Share your experiences in a comment.
Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.