Committing to a new website or a website rebuild brings on a roller coaster of emotions. There is usually excitement over a new functionality or an updated look and sometimes apprehension over the content on your current site. You will certainly feel many highs but also a few lows throughout the life cycle of your project. Because we have ridden the roller coaster with many clients and have noticed the same challenges tend to arise from project to project, we have a few tips on how to handle them. Here are some of the website project problems you are likely to experience and how you can manage them.
Oftentimes, our clients wish to migrate the data from their current site to their new site. At the beginning of the life cycle of the project, we conduct a data discovery phase. We examine the data on your current site and complete a data mapping document which is handed off to our clients for final review and approval. Sometimes, it is not desired that all data be brought over. Other times, it is, but the data mapping document should outline explicitly what will be brought over.
Then, development kicks off and data is often not something that comes to our clients’ minds when we are demoing the brand new frontend of their site site. Once the site is handed off for QA review, the initial elation of actually having the site subsides, and the realization that a few key pieces of content are missing hits. Is it possible that something is missing in our scripts? Yes, that’s what the QA process is for—to identify any issues. More often than not, however, the data was not included in the data mapping document originally.
To avoid this typical website project problem, we encourage our clients to closely review the data mapping document before signing off. As a slightly less technical individual, I understand how daunting of a task it is to review that. So, I encourage our clients to ask questions, as many as you need, to fully understand what exactly you are agreeing to have migrated.
Another issue that comes up frequently is image sizing. When you review mock-ups, you are looking at a static image. Although we all like mobile responsive sites, it can be confusing when content management comes up.
Images don’t just shrink or expand based on the size of a screen; they respond and scale accordingly. Oftentimes, the images that our clients are using on their current sites do not match the recommended sizes for the modules we have built for their new site.
As this is an issue that frequently comes up, we recommend asking as many questions around this subject matter as early as the design phase of the project. This way you have ample time to prepare the appropriate graphics.
We have a few tips, though, to help you handle this challenge.
- Keep your graphics center-focused. Here’s why: graphics that have text or important details that run to the edges of the image can be problematic. As the image responds to the size of the screen, the edges will cut off. This is our number-one issue reported by clients. By selecting a graphic where the key content is towards the center, you will ensure that on all screens the graphic looks stellar.
- Let your site handle the call-to-actions. We create text fields and buttons for information that you are trying to convey. If you add text to a graphic, it can interfere with the elements of the block, as the site responds to different screen sizes. Let your images be just that, an image.
Another issue that often comes up during website projects, is around the QA phase. This is the first time our clients really get their hands on their sites. There’s that excitement again! But this can quickly turn into a potential issue if the QA phase is not used to report bugs and issues, but rather, used to create new requests and suggest nice-to-haves.
I like to think of a website projects as building a house. You wouldn’t think about installing a shiny new chandelier without first checking that the electrical outlets work properly. Similarly, it is surely fun to think about impressive future features, and we encourage you documenting those requests, but it is important to use the QA phase to thoroughly test your site specifically for the purpose of uncovering any bugs or issues.
So now you are at the point where your site is about to launch. Everybody has been working towards this exciting, yet nerve-wracking, moment in your project. Then another issue may creep up, maybe a few links on the old site have been forgotten about, which will result in pages displaying a 404 error on your new site.
This issue is totally avoidable, if redirects are discussed early on. We can assist in setting up 301 redirects for those pesky old links. Remember, you know your current site better than we do, and it is helpful when you raise this topic and point those out to us.
I can pretty much guarantee that you will ride the roller coaster from the moment you begin discovery for your website till the site is live. Will website project problems come up? Yes, they will. That’s the nature of the beast, but these tips will help you feel the rush of the ride instead of any sinking feelings.
Looking for a partner to ride the roller coaster with you for your upcoming website project? Contact us!