People have an image in their minds when it comes to techs doing their jobs. It might be thanks to CSI, or films, or people’s natural ability to simplify things that they don’t quite understand, but either way, there seems to be this myth that there’s a button you can press that just makes something go.
The truth is, there are lots of buttons. There’s more than sixty buttons we use regularly on our keyboards, and when it comes to building websites, there are usually tens of thousands of button presses in exactly the right configuration to “make it go”.
But here’s the underlying misconception: A website is not a product, it’s a service. Sure, it’s a thing, it has a “finished product”, but it’s the service in making the product relevant, useful and customised that makes it valuable for a business and unable to be sold as a product.
So without further ado, here’s an inside peek at how a website gets made.
To start, we spend between one and three hours face to face with a client getting to know their needs, and while you might get a few emails or calls seeking valuable information after that, the thing that happens behind the scenes goes completely unseen. We spend hours tailoring the approach to your business into a series of clear, concise documents to ensure that everyone in our team is on the right page and understand your needs inside and out. Without this, you might not get complete chaos, but you would get an end product that is totally off the mark. You’ll be disappointed, and the project head will probably be doing this:
and five or six hours of work is definitely less of an investment than a new computer.
Like a house, work on it doesn’t start the day you pour the foundation, and a website doesn’t start the day you start drawing mockups. A website without a structure is ineffective, hard to navigate and doesn’t translate to people engaging with your business. Here at Gonzo Media, our marketing people and our technical leads join forces to create an intuitive, consistent and effective site for people to browse using their own instincts and logic. This might sound a little exciting, but it’s really a number of hours creating graphs, flowcharts and user analysis reports, followed by a lot of this:
3. Visual Designing
Once the briefing and architecture is complete, we have enough information to make a meaningful start on the visual side of the project. The result of this is the thing that you actually get to see, so it’s fair enough that you might think that that’s the first thing we actually do.
So, at this stage, we have actually heard the following phrase- “Why didn’t I get this the day after the quote? How long does it take to press the button and make it go?”
While human-computer interfacing may become more advanced in the next few decades, there is yet to exist a button or command that makes things appear the way you want them. Sorry.
At this point, we do a (hopefully) brief volley of changes, tweaks, and occasionally complete redesigns, and the day we do get that magic button, this would take under an hour. Until then, expect between two and ten of work on our end. This is just what it takes to get the right result.
Making those images we send you into a functioning website is less like hitting the “render” button, and more like translating a lengthy document from French into English. We’re visual creatures, and we create and present our information to you visually, but online, behind every image is code- telling your computer what it is, where it is, what it looks like and how it acts. Every paragraph, every link, every menu is the same. Of course there are efficient ways to code that reduces the overall coding amount, but it mostly looks like this-
see? efficient! Also the numbers on the left- line numbers. There are more than 3000 lines in this document, and that’s just one of them.
So, coding. It takes an hour or so doing this, right-
Sorry. It looks like about 20 hours of this-
Then we test. We put the website through its paces and make sure it looks right, acts right and there are no little hiccups that could get in the way of you converting a visitor to a customer or client. We look at every part of it with a microscope. You take a look at it, to make sure we’re on the right track. Then we have someone who hasn’t worked on the project go through it with a fine-toothed comb to pick up something we’ve spent too long staring at. Ideally, this phase is short, but it’s the effort put in at this stage that removes the rough edges and makes sure that the man behind the curtain is well and truly hidden. To pull out another metaphor, this stage is less finding errors as it is running a final dress rehearsal before opening night.
Yes, we call it deployment, like soldiers.
Why? Because everything goes up at once. Images, code, databases, links, all go live as close to each other as possible to avoid your customers seeing a desolate wasteland of a website and losing your valuable reputation as not being completely incompetent. Usually done outside of business hours once everything is approved and ready to rock, the thing you see is a finished website.
What we see is this:
After a website goes up, it seems like everything should be done, right?
For the most part, yes.
But, over time, it decays. Like Detroit.
You might link to a source for something you say and the site you linked to closes. (this is called link death)
Some of the scripts you use to run the site might need upgrades to protect against vulnerabilities. (we’ve all seen those sites that suddenly sell viagra)
Or, because time passes and fashions change, your website could start looking old.
With a good team on board, they’ll protect your asset and approach you when it needs a lick of paint.
This might be annoying, but a lick of paint every three years or so is sure as heck cheaper and easier than letting it rot and needing to rebuild it completely in ten years time, or face some epic embarrassment for your business.
Maintenance is like having a good landscaper on board: you can go cheap and make sure the grass is mowed to within an inch of its life and not pay enough for her to spray it for weeds, but you will have a reasonable patch that doesn’t make your grounds look derelict for a short space of time, or you can pay for a quality landscaper who is proactive in every season and keeps your grounds looking attractive and fresh all year round.
Your website is a representative of your business who always has the right thing to say, responds to 3am calls for information and never turns up to client meetings with a hangover. It’s one of the most valuable assets your business has.
You don’t need spend time giving information to each individual customer, and that gives you the freedom to actually work on what you do best. You can impress clients, get them the information they need and have them invest and engage in your business all without having to put on a pair of pants.
Your web team should work hard for your hard earned cash, but while it might seem like they’re doing this:
They’re probably doing this: