Making the decision to start a web project can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to know: audience, SEO, and catchy domain names are just a few. And unless you’re a web developer, it’s hard to sift through all the advice and add-ons to figure out exactly what you need. In this blog, we’re going to outline the four goals you need to set before you start your web project.
Purpose: What Is the Purpose of the Project?
Just like with a business, your web project should have a purpose. Are you looking to manage parts of your business? Do you want to sell something? Or is your site a location for people to connect? These are just a few things to think about. Although any website or application can have multiple functions, your visitor should clearly know what the purpose is. You can start working on your purpose by finishing this simple statement: “When someone comes to my site, they should be able to ______________ .”
Audience: Who Are You Trying to Reach?
Correctly identifying your website or application's audience means the difference between high traffic and no traffic at all. The best place to start gathering your intel on your target audience is revisiting your project’s purpose. For example, let’s say you are interested in creating a commerce site that sells clothing. If you drop your idea into your “simple sentence,” here’s what you’ll get… When someone comes to my site, they should be able to buy clothes for their kids.” So, your target audience would probably be people shopping for kid’s clothing.
Here’s another example: “When someone comes to my site, they should be able to read the latest information on real estate.” In this example, the target audience would be anyone interested in real estate, but you wouldn’t want to stop there. Would it make sense to narrow down the target to buyers, sellers, or investors? By tying your purpose to your target audience, you’ll be able to narrow down your goals even further.
Budget: How Much Is Too Much?
Your web project budget should reflect the size and need of your vision. A good budget should include the initial costs to start the project, funds to pay either the project rate or hourly rate for your developer, costs for content and images, and hosting/maintenance fees. Although the fees for the project vary depending on the vision and the developer, it is pretty safe to say that you need to make a year’s worth of investments to make your site or application profitable. Here’s an example:
Let’s say the “framework” itself costs $10,000, content and images can cost $1,000 and hosting/maintenance can be around $250 per month or less, depending on who is hosting the site. The total cost of your project could run you about $15,000. This might seem like a huge investment, but if you consider the length of the project timeline and what your costs will be in the future years, the sum is not too overwhelming. Also, think about the purpose of the project: if the application’s job is to generate revenue, this is considered a very small investment.
Expectations & Timeline: You Get Out of It What You Put Into It
When it comes to web projects, one of the biggest concerns most people have is time. The pressure/desire to speed the process along is almost inevitable. However, building a web project is a multiple-step process that will take time to execute correctly. So, instead of setting a single deadline, break down the deadline into expectations along a timeline. Here’s an example of a few high-level expectations:
Step One: Once initial deposit is paid, work with developer to discuss and finalize ideas for purpose and audience within 2 weeks.
Step Two: Start talking about appearance and functions of site or application with your developer. Framework ideas should be narrowed down within 3-4 weeks.
Step Three: Once developer starts working on the framework, consider content and images. Since content can take some time to nail down, consider giving yourself and the developer some leeway. A healthy timeline can be between 4-6 weeks (includes research and revisions).
Step Four: Pull it all together. Add the content to the framework and see if adjustments are needed.
Taking this approach will spare you the “I need this done in a month!” expectation. Plus, you’ll be able to work on multiple steps at once.
One Last Thing…
Before you start, do lots of research! Research everything: purpose, audience, imagery, content, samples, themes, etc. The more you exposure you get, the more likely you’ll be able to find ideas of what you’re looking for.