Important Factors to Look for When Choosing a Website Development Team
If you’re looking to build a new website or revitalize an existing website with an updated design, chances are you’re going to need to find a web development team you can depend on. Your website is a business asset, and you want a development team that takes steps to understand your goals before building anything.
Although each web development team will have methods unique to their process — such as our use of Agile project management approach — having scheduled tasks, routine check-ins, and a period of collaborative quality assurance are all structural elements that any good development team should have.
What to Expect During the Planning Phase
At the beginning of your project you’ll meet with your development team to help them understand your company and what your desired goals are for your project.
Your development team should provide you with detailed recommendations of potential solutions and walk you through each option to the point that you feel comfortable enough to confidently make a decision about what to do with your website.
If your project involves design and/or user experience work, you’ll get started on those key pieces of the project during this initial planning phase. If you’re using separate designers and developers, they should be communicating regularly with each other about your project goals and timelines at this stage as things begin to take shape.
How your web development team schedules work may be unique to them. For example, our team uses Jira, an agile project management system, to plan project sprints and round out details surrounding each task into individual Jira tickets. Ultimately the work should be structured in a way that accommodates your schedule and keeps you up-to-date along the way.
What Your Web Development Team Should Do in the Planning Phase
- Meet with you to understand your company and your specific goals for your web development.
- Provide multiple solutions for you to choose from.
- Explain their process in a way that’s easily understood.
- Have a clearly-outlined process to complete your project.
- Participate in the design phase (if you’re using a different team for design).
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- They begin working on your project without having sufficiently met with you.
- You never get the chance to meet the team that’ll be working on your site.
- They are generally unavailable during your business hours.
- They don’t give you access to their previous work or client referrals.
- They don’t properly explain what they’re doing to your site or are too vague/technical for you to understand.
- They don’t provide you with a schedule that breaks down the creation of your project into specific time frames that you can keep track of.
What to Expect During the Development Phase
Your web development team should check in periodically and update you on the status of your project every step of the way. These meeting times, even after the planning period is over, are important because they allow you to notify your team about any features that you may want to change.
You should have enough visibility into your project status to feel confident in the progress being made. If there are ever any issues, you’d be able to review things early in the process. Ideally you’re able to see how your project is progressing, as opposed to waiting for a “big reveal” at the end.
At Bear Group, we have a Technical Project Manager (TPM) assigned to each client. They establish a weekly review meeting with clients to go over the current sprint, the overall project schedule, site demos, and to iron out any questions that you might have. We provide a staging login to view your website progress as it comes together, as well as any training needed for internal content managers and site admins so you can get to know your new site as early as possible.
What Your Team Should Do in the Development Phase
- Stay in contact with you throughout, periodically meeting for check-ins.
- Provide you with a way to monitor your project as it’s being built.
- Allow for open communication in the event you have questions or concerns.
- Your team doesn’t meet with you at all during the development phase, insisting on giving you the completed project all at once at the end of the period.
- There’s no way for you to monitor that everything is on schedule.
- You aren’t made aware of when things will be changing or have changed.
What to Expect During Pre-Launch
Your team should thoroughly test your website in its staging environment before it goes live. How this testing is done is unique to each project, but your development team should lead you through quality assurance (QA) as well as User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and inform you how they will be conducted. The level of involvement on the client’s side may differ in each case, but your development team will always QA projects before they launch.
What Your Team Should Do During the Pre-Launch Phase
- Test for thorough QA, even if your team will also QA the system.
- Be open and available should you need anything or have questions.
- If your team gives you a date for when the project goes live without involving you in quality assurance.
What to Expect During Post-Launch Phase
After your website has launched, your team should be available for crucial issues or bug fixes. What happens post-launch often depends on the specific nature of the project. For many, the launch is the first step in a series of ongoing updates and improvements made to a site, which is why you need a reliable developer on your side.
Assessing what kind of post-launch support you’ll need is something that should happen during the development process. For example, your website may require ongoing support to continue down your roadmap. Many of our clients opt to join Run State, our ongoing website support program, to address any issues or add-on features that come up.
What Your Team Should Do During Post Launch
- Provide support for possible system malfunctions or bug fixes, and be readily available to assist you should the need arise.
- Total severance of communication at the conclusion of your project. Ideally, your developers would give you the option for ongoing support, much like our Run State support program.
How You Can Help Your Team
Your website needs are unique to your business needs. Even an expert group of web developers will need your input to build the ideal solution for your business. Here are a few ways you can help your development team:
- Be Specific: As mentioned above, being specific about how you want your website to function will help us build the exact website that you want.
- On-Time Deployments: Giving us your final approval in a timely way will help us move your project along as efficiently as we can.
- Knowing What Needs to Be Prioritized: As your project is being built, you may notice some issues that you want us to change. It could be anything from disliking the font being used, to something like customer checkout malfunctioning. To keep your project within the time frame that was initially determined, prioritize your tasks accordingly to help keep things on track.
- Determine Your Design Needs: Web designers will create the look and feel of your website. Interaction design (often called user experience or UX or functional specs) is the intersection of usability, functionality, and front-end development. Think about the type of comprehensive brand experience you’d like to present on your website going into a project.
Every website and every client relationship is unique, and how you work with your web development team will depend on your situation. That being said, there is a certain standard that you should expect from your web development team. The best way to evaluate that is by how well they communicate with you.
If you’re in the process of choosing a website developer and want to ensure you make the right decision, our complete guide to Choosing a Website Development Provider will guide you every step of the way.