When a change needs to be made to a website’s structure or functionality, it’s a job for our development team. Understanding how long changes will take can be a frustrating experience, as what may appear to be a simple change can take a great deal of time, while other changes, that seem far more complex, can be made fairly rapidly. Why does development time vary so much?
Factors that can impact how much development time include:
The platform your website is built on.
Our proprietary platform, Stella, is built to accommodate rapid changes. WordPress is similarly designed to be easy to work with, allowing for a streamlined editing process. Be aware that a WordPress site’s flexibility can be impacted by previous design decisions. Other platforms, particularly those that are heavily template based, are not as amenable to being changed. Doing so will require more development time, in instances where the desired changes are possible.
The original plan for your website.
Developers build websites to order, based on a plan created reflective of the client’s needs and vision. If changes are made to this plan after the construction of the website has already begun, the necessary technological infrastructure may not be in place to accommodate the desired changes.
Changing the infrastructure that is in place can create a host of issues, as many elements of website construction are interconnected – removing or altering one element will cause other elements of the website to change, often in undesirable ways. Returning the impacted elements to their desired state takes time.
The techniques and tools used to build your website.
There are a lot of ways to build websites. If your website was built by someone using a non-standard approach, there can be coding errors that take some time to identify and remedy. The use of third-party tools to create specific website features can be problematic. If these tools are out of date, contain coding errors, or are not compatible with the desired changes, this must be addressed, either by finding an alternative third-party tool that achieves the same function or by custom creating one that works in this specific instance.
Keeping Development Time to a Minimum
Everyone has a budget, and there’s lots of interest in ways to keep development time to a minimum. There are some factors that are entirely within the clients’ control that can help keep costs down:
Pre-Visualization and Planning
Before you have a website built, or upgrade your existing website, you want to have a clear vision of what type of experience you want your customers to have on your website. Your account manager will work with you to pre-visualize your website. During this conversation, you’ll talk about what you’d like your website to look like. It’s also important to think about your website functionally. Thinking through what you’d like your website to do, and what your customers will expect from it, is a vital step.
The reason these conversations are so important is because they create clarity, letting everyone working on the website know what is needed and wanted. If you’re not sure what a feature looks like or what it does, these pre-visualization conversations are an ideal time to ask: the account manager will be able to show you examples, so you can be sure that what you’re asking for is what you actually want on your website.
For example, let’s take a common feature: filters that allow a customer to browse your online inventory in a quick, efficient way. Identifying all of the possible filters that would be relevant to your customer– things like item type, brand name, price point, color, size – ahead of time allows your development time to build them in from the get-go, eliminating the need for time-consuming revisions later.
Forming a plan and committing to it is the single most important way to keep development costs low.
Choosing a Website Platform
Whether you’re having a new website built or are upgrading an existing website, platform selection is incredibly important. If your existing website is built on a very restrictive platform, migrating to a more flexible platform can be the most cost-effective way to achieve the results you want. When choosing a website platform for a new website, you’ll want to think about what your existing needs are, as well as what you expect your needs to be two to three years from now. This will help you get a website that’s capable of growing as your company grows.