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Reducing costs when creating a new website

How to get what you want from your website project but keep your costs down...

Adam D 3 June 2010

We see a number of clients that are looking to start a brand new business online, and have come across the same issue many, many times - they have a long list of "wishlist" items, but a budget that doesn't quite match.

One approach is to seek a low cost developer to help get the site done cheaply; unfortunately this often also results in a low quality application, poor design, and little strategic input into the business once launched (I have another Blog post coming on this topic).

The better alternative, is to stage the functionality; release a version of the site that includes some of the core functionality, the things you can't live without, including the items that actually make you money, and then release additional functionality later.  What we've found is that, almost every time, the second and third round of functionality is different to first anticipated.  Inevitably, once the site goes live, and users start putting it through its paces, they tell the business owner what they like/don't like, and what they would like to see in the site, which usually dictates future releases.

It often comes as a surprise to the business owner that their clients expectations are different to theirs, but to be honest it's pretty rare that we see a business owner that knows their audience intimately enough to know exactly what they want and need from their site.  They have some idea, and using best practice, we can build a site that works really well, but until it's live, we don't really know exactly what the site needs to function successfully.

The trick often is finding a system to choose what functionality should in fact be included in each release.  We recommend using a structured approach which allows you evaluate the business benefit and technical complexity of each of the items on the "wishlist", which factors heavily in the decision making process.  So for example, if an item has high business benefit, and low technical complexity, then it is a great candidate for a first phase release.  If the business benefit is low, and technical complexity high, perhaps it's best to leave it till the next phase.

There are various ways to implement this process, but as a start, just try writing them all down, and score them from 1-5 on business benefit (bb) and technical complexity (tc), then make your decisions from there.  Let me know if you need a more detailed approach.

Or, ask your web developer to help you prioritise them based on their experience on what works.

Bye for now.

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