Building is building, whether it’s physical or digital. It requires a great deal of planning, calculating and precise execution. While a homebuilder reads an architect’s blueprints, website developers read lines upon lines of highly complex code. Completing the project correctly happens when both the homebuyers and the building contractor keep all lines of communication open and express exactly what they need. Similarly, when working with web developers, it’s important to work together every step of the way.
Here are 5 ways that building a website is much like building a house:
5 Ways building a website is like building a house or office:
1. Foundation and Materials
2. Bells and Whistles
4. DIY Guy
5. After the Honeymoon is over
1. Foundations and Materials
Besides skill and experience, one of the most important factors that goes into building a house is the quality of the foundation that the structure rests on, and the materials that were used to build it. If your home is built on poor soil, then it will eventually begin to crack and slide. However, since John and Jane Homebuyer don’t know the difference, sometimes the builder won’t mention it to keep within budget or he’s too concerned with building on any piece of land available – and in many areas, build-able land is becoming scarce.
When hiring a web developer, it’s important to do a little research in regards to foundation and materials. Many low-budget web designers offer very enticing rates these days, however, that’s often because their websites lack depth and functionality. Therefore, those who are in the market for a website need to figure out what they need first. Will the site need to handle massive amounts of data? Will the site need a custom user interface unlike any other? Or will it be a basic site that is little more than a nice and warm place to hang your hat? The point is, don’t overpay for materials you don’t need, and similarly, don’t low-ball the developer if you truly do need a serious system.
2. Bells & Whistles
Bells and whistles are eternal. Whether it’s a state of the art heating and air conditioning system, or that high-end universal LED lighting system, homebuyers throughout history have been wooed by these pricey little extras. However, the builder is happy, because he wants to keep his vendors happy and simultaneously increase his markup. Therefore, the higher you buy, the better. However, years later, when John and Jane Homeowner look back on how silly they were, that will be the same day when those pricey extras break and need to be fixed, updated or replaced. And when the invoice arrives, it won’t be cheap.
The same applies for a website. Yes, in the moment it may seem like a good idea to add all of those fancy features that may be unnecessary, but it justifies higher maintenance fees down the line from the developer’s perspective. If they build you a bigger, faster and more complex system, then it will naturally cost more to maintain. Again, that’s why it’s important to understand your needs before approaching a web developer. Don’t buy a property that’s way more than you need – because you’ll have to mow the lawn either way.
3. The Checklist
When hiring either a building contractor or a web developer, there are certain items that should always be taken care of before making the final decision. Make sure the builder or web developer has a permanent address and a solid reputation with other local businesses. How long have they been in business? It typically takes a few years to build a financially stable company. Make sure they will still be there after the job is done to service any warranties. Find the builder or developer’s Better Business Bureau rating, and see if there have been any complaints. Ask the company to provide names of past or current clients. If they won’t, then that’s a red flag. If they do, ask the client if they would work with the company again. Ask to see their work, both finished and in progress. Are they easy to communicate with? The client will be working with the contractor throughout the whole process and long after. Make sure the company provides a clear contract, be wary of unusually low rates and remember that cheaper does not always mean better!
4. DIY Guy
Both building contractors and web developers have surely met the do-it-yourself guy, who simply knows how to do their job better than they do. However, there’s a big difference between knowing how to remodel a bathroom and being able to build a house. Similarly, there’s a huge difference between having tweaked a few WordPress templates and knowing how to build a custom, enterprise-level website from the ground up.
In both scenarios, this can result in the client undervaluing the work of the builder, or the builder underestimating the knowledge of the client. Either way, neither party is getting what they deserve, so the best solution is for both parties to communicate clearly and consistently. If the client knows a thing or two about web development, then he or she should express that knowledge to the developer. The developer will not only be able to do his or her job better, now that they know the client has a basic understanding of web design, but it will also mitigate the risk of the client being overcharged. Similarly, when the web developer feels comfortable with the client’s level of knowledge, he or she will not have to worry about the client drastically undervaluing or low-balling the job.
5. After the Honeymoon is over
In conclusion, for both homebuyers and website buyers, it’s all about doing the necessary research, understanding their needs and communicating clearly with the contractor. Eventually, the job will come to an end, and ending on good terms benefits both parties.
One day, the client and contractor will need to interact again, and hard feelings will only result in a more painful process down the road. Although it may entail more time and effort in the moment, being satisfied with the job and getting it done right the first time means likely being satisfied with the necessary maintenance required in the future. However, as with most things in life, it takes two to make it work.