Today’s blog article is a guest post courtesy of attorney Ellen Lubell. A valued member of my inner circle of trusted colleagues, Ellen advises on technology matters such as legal website agreements, data security, copyright and open source licensing. This post was adapted from her original post.
As the centerpiece of your online presence, your website must convey your unique value. It’s a long journey from a blank page to a live site with robust, nimble functionality, clearly articulated, impactful content and relevant, authentic visuals. Even a website re-launch requires an eagle-eyed assessment of every aspect of your site to elevate its positive impact.
Choosing the right partners and putting in place the needed processes are key to minimizing potholes along the way.
Find the right website developer
Finding a great website developer isn’t as easy as you might think. The perfect “10” is someone who can not only design and develop your site and offer innovative solutions, but also provide ongoing post-launch troubleshooting and proactive maintenance support. If you can’t find this all-in-one web wizard, then find design and user experience experts and a tech expert or developer and introduce them to one another. Rely on their collective wisdom. Make sure you understand the key skills of each member of your team and clearly define their responsibilities so nothing falls through the cracks.
A website is a work in continual progress, evolving as your organization evolves. And the environment in which it exists persistently raises new challenges. Presuming you have your own business to attend to, seek out a tech partner who will take on your technology as their responsibility so you can focus on your business. Other key attributes for your tech partner? Ongoing accessibility and responsiveness.
Get into the gritty details
Before selecting your developer or tech team, review a variety of proposals and ask about items that differ from one to the others. Most proposals include a list of the standard website features and services to be provided; are your unique or specific needs included? Don’t be afraid to ask questions; a developer who doesn’t communicate in understandable terms is probably not someone you want to work with long term.
Once you’ve identified your developer or tech team, it’s important to have an open discussion about the development and launch process you each envision. Developers and clients involved in projects that went badly generally agree that they should have agreed on a great deal more at the outset. There can be a considerable gap between the website you envision and the technical, design and cost realities that are feasible within your budget. If expectations between you and your developer or team are not aligned at the outset, the gap can widen as the process moves forward — and no one comes out ahead.
Seal the deal in writing
Negotiate a written legal agreement that spells out the development process in detail (including timeframes, design iterations and content creation, among other topics) and anticipates the issues that may lie ahead. You may be tempted to skip this step, assuming that “good faith” should suffice or that you’ll offend the developer by insisting on a written agreement. The reality is to the contrary. Good faith is little help when you discover that you misunderstood one another and costs have already been incurred. Professionals expect to put contracts in place. Both your website and your relationship with the developer will benefit by taking this step seriously.
See Ellen Lubell’s post for a detailed list of items to include in your website development agreement.
Focus ahead for a smooth ride
As you near the finish line for your website launch, set the wheels in motion to keep technology challenges at bay. Put in place a maintenance agreement for ongoing webmaster and tech support, troubleshooting and maintenance of your site, including security updates.
Sufficiently overwhelmed? If you’re ready to take the website plunge but would value a guiding hand, let us know. We oversee business and website launches, working with tech experts, designers and developers to keep the bumps to a minimum. We’re also happy to introduce you to our large network of talented partners who specialize in website design and development. Download our business launch checklist or contact us for recommendations of tech professionals with the specialized skills, work style and pricing to match your goals and budget.