My clients know that I am fond (probably a little too fond) of comparing the process of developing a great website to building a house. You need a plan. You need a good foundation to build on (server and software). You need to take a close look at your current furnishings (content) to make sure it will look right in your new digs (website).
This analogy has been on my mind lately as I actually am building a house (as well as a few client websites.) I’m finding the comparison is still very valid, and there are a few more nuances to think about.
Verify, and verify again.
Soon after we signed the contract to build our new house, we found ourselves in a design center making a ton of choices. We had to select everything from flooring to bath fixtures.
This should sound familiar to anyone who has recently done a website project. There are many decisions to be made before you get even the first glimpse of your new site. It is challenging to make those decisions based on your best guess of what will look great.
My builder deals with this by checking back on all those decisions with us several times in the process. We went over the list before the order was submitted. We went over it again before construction started. And, we went over it again before the drywall work got started.
All of these checkpoints have occurred before the first selected element has been installed, but they have been important opportunities to recall the choices we have made as well as chances to reconsider some options.
When I work with clients, I tend to complete deliverables and consider them DONE. I now realize the importance of revisiting them during the process. Do these decisions still sound right? Did we miss something we need to consider now? It’s a chance to revise thinking as well as to confirm what we are doing and why.
Involve others early on.
It’s never too soon in the process to get “outside” opinions. At the contract phase, we asked the agent about features and what other clients have selected and why. We asked her for things we should consider when picking the features for our house.
At the preconstruction meeting, we asked the construction manager for his thoughts about any changes we should consider. Is the small deck a good size for the house? Should we add more outlets? He’s overseen the construction of these houses again and again so we wanted the benefit of what he has learned.
We’ve brought more people into the process and you should too. If you are not asking your employees and target audience(s) sanity check questions at every step along the way you are missing an opportunity to make course corrections that can greatly improve your results.
More to come.
We’re no more than halfway through this process, so I am sure to have more ah-has before it is over. Stay tuned!