Times have changed. The Internet is incredibly competitive, and the environment in which businesses compete online is changing at a rapid pace. Yet many business' website development processes remain unchanged from the turn of the century.
To achieve Web visibility in the current environment, the website development and promotion life cycle must evolve and begin using a more holistic approach.
Why a Holistic Approach is Necessary
Consider the following list of disciplines and respective professionals required to develop and promote a website in today's competitive landscape:
Web Design / Development:
- Graphic Designers to create a visually appealing website.
- Programmers to ensure that various design and process elements work together.
- Web usability experts to ensure site visitors are able to complete tasks intuitively.
- Conversion optimization specialists to ensure maximum conversion potential by website visitors.
- Writers and copywriters to develop content.
- Photographers and graphic designers to create appealing visual content.
- Audio and video content developers due to the increasing popularity of podcasts and online videos.
- Search Engine Optimization professionals to improve the website's visibility in organic search results.
- Search Engine Marketers to implement and manage pay-per-click and other online advertising channels.
- Social Media Professionals to leverage the power of social networks, community sites and other social media tools.
And, of course, we cannot leave out the primary stakeholders of the project - the business owners and management team, including the marketing department and public relations professionals.
It is this collection of various professionals and the different skill sets they possess that calls for a holistic approach to website development and promotion. But there's more.
Each and every one of these stakeholders has specific needs and requirements that must be supported by the website. Absolutely none of these requirements are individual entities that do not in some way require the support of other website design or development elements, or impact these design and development elements themselves.
This is where the transition to a holistic approach becomes so important. The integration of all these various needs and requirements into the website requires the individual elements to support each other, for the common good of the entire business.
Implementing the Holistic Approach
The implementation of a holistic Web development and promotion project is no different than any other business initiative. A clear understanding of the business' objectives is the primary prerequisite.
Once objectives have been determined, establishing the budget for the new or redesigned website is the next priority. In many cases, due to budgeting constraints, it is at this stage of the process that prioritization of business objectives becomes necessary. By this stage, your business should have a clear understanding of why the project is to be implemented, what is to be achieved and how much the company can afford to make the project a reality.
Effective Project Management is the Key
The holistic approach requires strong project management skills due to the extensive number of professional disciplines required to complete the project. The first task the project manager will be required to complete is the identification of the development and promotion team members.
Team development must be prioritized. The primary principle of a holistic approach is the identification of what website elements are required to support the needs of the various promotional efforts to ensure the site is both highly visible on the Web and able to fulfill the business' and website visitors' needs.
This may appear to be common sense. However, in my experience, this is often not the process that is taking place. All too often, the website goes live prematurely. Only then is the question is asked, "How are we going to promote this website?" This scenario often creates the need for website revisions following the perceived completion of the project - a waste of both time and resources.
Determining Team Requirements
Once the development and promotion teams have been determined, team members must identify the strategies they plan on implementing within their areas of expertise. Team members must effectively communicate these plans and outline their future requirements to ensure that allowances are made for the inclusion of their proposed strategies in the website's development stage.
The communication of future strategies is critical, and one of the most overlooked steps in the website's development life cycle. This is the primary reason websites often need revisions after they have gone live. It not only creates additional costs to the project, but is also likely to have a detrimental effect on the website's performance. When businesses are faced with a website that underperforms, the situation often snowballs out of control - by this stage having spent the budgeted sum and received little or no ROI.
This usually creates the situation where business managers are resistant to spending additional resources on a website that has failed to perform to expectations. Yet, if the additional resources are not found to complete the necessary revisions, the site will never be able to achieve the business' goals and objectives.
A Holistic Philosophy Summary
The holistic approach to the website development and promotion life cycle is really nothing more than common sense. The reason why a holistic methodology has become so important is the increasingly complex nature of the business website.
Gone are the days of the simple brochure website. Businesses and site visitors have high expectations of what every online presence should deliver. Ensuring that a website is capable of meeting these expectations requires the implementation of a holistic approach to manage the multitude of website development and promotional requirements.
About the Author: In 2001, Pete Hollier started an ecommerce consultancy service assisting New Zealand businesses to leverage the power of the Internet. The services evolved to include Search Engine Optimization in 2003. Pete returned to Canada, and in 2008 started SeoWizardry.ca to offer Search Engine Optimization and other website performance enhancing services.