Avoid re-inventing the wheel

If you are thinking of re-designing your web-site then here are a couple of useful tips that could save you a load of development cost, reduce the hassle and speed up delivery. Just because you’re re-creating or re-building your site that is no reason to build the whole thing from scratch. Most of your visitors will care little for the new funky imagery you have planned, nor notice the cute new design cues. People visit web site to get stuff done and to imbibe enough of the culture and feel to reach a comfort factor. That’s it.

1. Managing the build and delivery process might be new to you but is a well worn path for many others. Using a simple and low-cost collaborative project management tool such as Basecamp with some standard templates will make sure you have covered all your bases and ease the whole deployment process. I’m quite surprised when I see clients kicking-off new web projects with a blank Microsoft Project page; that is just about the most expensive and complicated way to run a web project.

2. Unless you are a tightly controlled international brand then consider buying a standard design template for a few hundred quid and then paying a good designer to evolve it to fit your needs. This can save tens of thousands of pounds in design costs and, typically, also has the benefit that the designs are usually turned into web-ready code.

3. Don’t design and build your own search. Add Google’s rather good site search engine to your site, it costs less than £200 for 50,000 searches. The results tend to be rather good and you have the additional benefit of some halo branding as Google allow the use of their logo. If you are being pikey, or just different then use Microsoft’s Bing Box which is free for the moment.

4. Use an off-the-shelf e-commerce system. Unless your entire business model is built around a different approach to e-commerce then use one of the myriads of solutions that just work. Costs start from free and go up to £1m+ so you’ll need to choose carefully and do aim for an application that has a combination of ease of use for visitors and ease of maintenance.

5. Finally, remember to test your new design against the old one – I assume you are looking for an improvement in performance so set a target, say a 10% increase in sales/enquiries/registrations and be harshly critical of the new design if it doesn’t match up.

If you want any pointers and ideas about how to speed up development, improve performance and reduce costs then drop us a line.

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