How to Build your Website “Dream Home”
By Stephen Massaro, Bayshore Solutions Project Manager.
Building a successful website is regularly compared to building a physical home: you start with an idea, blueprint the concept, build, and then move in. The analogy is widely used and has been a great visual to correlate the intangible nature of a website to the brick and mortar context of an actual building. Comparing a website build to the process of building a home is a great way to compartmentalize the different phases of the build plan. It is a tool to keep the project on time and on budget. Through 20 years of award-winning service, Bayshore Solutions has refined the process to include four distinct phases: Strategy, Design, Build, and Launch.
Based on the size and complexity of the home being built, you know if the project is going to modular and templated or require custom development along the way.
If the expectation of your home is that it will look and function like a lot of other homes in the world, then you can probably get away with a modular and templated approach. This strategy has quicker turn around and lower cost associated: think tract homes in a new neighborhood.
However, if the expectation of your home is that it will be a ‘one-of-a-kind’ solution and be the only home in the world to look and function the way it does – or even if it will have some tailored features – the plan to complete the home will require custom work and significant strategy. The Taj Mahal took more than 20 years to build and involved over 20,000 builders to complete… many of them with very specific skill sets to craft one-of-a-kind architecture and mosaics. If your website solution is going to be “The Taj Mahal of websites”, then specific strategy is required before the first brick is ever laid.
In your website build, some of the details to be uncovered may be whether your site would require a custom data import/export or involve API connectivity to meet day-to-day business needs. At Bayshore Solutions, we ask that our partners walk through those details with our team in an engagement called “Road Mapping.” This road mapping process will document the need(s), dictate the delivery team and clarify cost constraints before the work is approved to begin.
A portion of the Strategy session is a selection of the Content Management System (CMS) in which the website will be built. Bayshore Solutions is proud to be a Certified Partner for several enterprise level CMS platforms, including Sitefinity, Kentico and nopCommerce. Each CMS has its’ own features and advantages, and Bayshore Solutions’ experience and expertise will help you to determine the best fit for your website build and ongoing digital marketing needs. You can download additional tips on “How to Choose the Right CMS” here.
Let’s consider the Design phase the “Blueprint” for your dream website. Although no bricks have been laid in building the site, this blueprint is where you work with the architect team to decide the look and feel of the site. Should it be pink or blue? Should it have shutters? A tile roof or shingles? The look and feel of a home is sometimes called “curb appeal” and we want to make sure that your website has the “curb appeal” to attract and convert your potential customers better than your competition. It is not only important that you love it, but that your target visitors also enjoy the experience. The way in which your potential customers interact with the site will greatly affect key measures of success like time on site, conversions, and overall sales.
We will walk through the design of the home page, a static content page, a product page in an e-commerce site, and any other custom page styles as dictated by the strategy. We want to vet out any custom development needs in the initial strategy phase because most of these will require visual and experiential communications that the user will interact with. We would want to get those design elements created and approved before we proceed with the build.
Put on a hard hat, because now we are ready to begin to build! Now that the blueprints have been approved, we are ready to put a shovel in the ground and begin the development work. While working to implement the approved design into the CMS, our developers can simultaneously begin any custom development requirements. The Bayshore Solutions team works to apply an “Agency Agile” approach that has an iterative nature with regular, two week check-ins. This allows regular check points to review functionality and provide a window for review, testing, and acceptance.
This Build phase is similar to the way that a home owner may regularly stop by the job site to check on the work, ask questions and meet with the General Contractor. These regular check-ins guarantee that the finished product will be exactly what they expect when it is time to move in. If there are unexpected costs or delays in the build discovered, the General Contractor would communicate with home owners and decide how to proceed moving forward.
The much anticipated move-in date is here. Yay! The whole team is excited to see the finished product but we want to make sure that we meticulously go through the pre-flight checklist list, have everything inspected, and then coordinate the process when we get the “Go” for Launch. Using the “Moving In” analogy, Bayshore Solutions uses documented best practices to ensure that the move from your old site to your new home goes as smoothly as possible. Our launch, or “Go-Live” process includes attending to details such as forwarding your mail (301 redirects), registering with the Post Office (submit sitemaps), and ensuring a quality installation of your phone, cable, and security systems (server set up and configuration).
To ensure that your friends and family will be able to find your new home easily, we also encourage proactive digital marketing services. You have invested time and energy to build the home, but now we need to make sure that the street lights are on and your address is visible and attractive so customers can easily find your website in search engines. An ongoing marketing relationship with Bayshore Solution optimizes the content on your site, and digital community reputation to make sure that your site is providing to your potential customers the content, assurance, and value that they are looking for.
Having a specific, documented plan and working with a “builder” that has a successful track record are important! If you are ready to move forward or would like to learn more about building the dream home for your online presence, Contact Us Today!