On My Own

A Personal Journal
by Davood Denavi

The Intricacies Of Developing Websites

Today, I am answering Lily’s question from the call for questions earlier this week. Her question was one that I am asked often: What goes into designing a website?

I decided to become a website developer because I like to think of ways to solve problems using technology. A website developer must have a solid knowledge of CSS and HTML. Designing a website also requires an eye for color and marketing skills. When developing a new site, many developers will pick an out-of-the-box-design that the client likes – because that will speed up the process of getting the website built, since they are being hired primarily to develop more-complex functionality.

At Binary Web, we are here to develop your website. Developing a website requires understanding design while working with your client, and if necessary their marketing department, to develop the site so that it does everything you want it to do for your business. A developer will sometimes act as the project manager, coordinating between the customer and their marketing department. But more often the customer is the project manager, serving as the communication link between the developer and the marketing department, especially if they have an education in marketing themselves.

You may be wondering what goes into the development of a more-complex website, such as one involving e-commerce or subscriptions to a service. Honestly, I’ve seen and been involved in so many different situations over my seventeen-year career – the more complex the site, the more unique its needs will be. But to keep this simple, I’ll say this: Developing such a website requires understanding the customer’s vision for how they themselves plan to interact with their website as well as how they want their visitors and clients to interact with it.

Here is a list of common questions developers ask when submitting a proposal to a new client:

  • Is the website meant to be an e-commerce website?
  • Do they want to use their website to issue invoices and to send customers back to it to pay those invoices using a third-party service such as PayPal?
  • Will visitors be required to log in to access specific features of the site such as a history of their invoices or support tickets?
  • Will there be any e-commerce features beyond accepting payments services?
  • If there are going to be e-commerce features for recurring services or digital/physical products, common questions that are asked would be:
    • Is this a subscription that needs to automatically charge the customer on renewal?
    • If so, how often does the subscription renew – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly?
    • Are there shipping features?
    • Should tax be added to the products on checkout?
  • Will we be implementing any SEO or social media tracking functionality to help track visitors?
  • Will there be any automated administration functionality, such as sharing new blog posts to social media?
  • Do they want to have an email-based ticketing system for customer/technical support?

This is just a short list of questions that could be asked based on the request for proposal that is received. There are of course many other questions that come up, depending on the goals mentioned in the proposal, and it is important to remember to ask them to ensure the success of the project. Asking the right questions up front is really as critical as having the right technical skills for the job.