Why You Can’t Afford to Skimp on a Great Website

Almost every business today can be considered a digital business. New fashion brand? Don’t neglect the importance of e-commerce. Nonprofit looking to empower young women? You have to go to where your audience is. Health coach? You need a strategic way to market your services.

Websites are the 21st century’s storefront, the place where you hang out your shingle and tell the world (and we mean it, the world) you are open for business. Today there are 2.4 billion people using the Internet, and that number is expected to grow by a billion by 2016. Your potential market for clients is endless. And since your website is the first impression you’ll be making, I think we can all agree that having a great one is imperative to the success of your business.

Building your site can be a serious investment. You wouldn’t jump into a store renovation without knowing the difference between wood and linoleum flooring, and the same goes for your website. Before investing your time and money, you’ve got to know what you’re buying.

Hasty Decisions Can Cost You Thousands

I started my company, Skillcrush, because I know from experience that having technical skills is almost like having a superpower, and I am committed to helping as many women as I can take hold of that potential. But before I became a teacher, I ran a digital agency where I built websites for companies like The New York Times, ProPublica and MTV.

Back in my Web agency days, I was working with a startup on a limited budget. Because of their financial constraints, we negotiated a special deal with them: We would deliver a completed Web application, but their team would be in charge of launching it.

Just days before the scheduled launch, I received a flurry of emails from the company’s main developer. It appeared that not only had this developer never launched such a website before, he actually didn’t know the programming language we had written the Web application in. Alarmed, I reached out to my client and asked why he had hired a developer who didn’t know the programming language for this app. In response, my client asked why we had built the app in a programming language his developer didn’t know.

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

My client realized that he couldn’t have his developer trying to write in a new language, and he had to make a difficult choice: Throw out the work my firm had done, thereby flushing thousands of dollars down the drain, or fire his developer (he picked the former). Now, the problem here isn’t that one programming language is better than another. But we were speaking French to someone who spoke only Chinese, and our client, who had orchestrated the talks, didn’t know enough about either language to know the difference. A few hours of prevention is worth weeks of scrambling for a cure. And fortunately, avoiding mistakes like this is easier than you think. Here’s how to make sure your finished Web product is exactly what you need.

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