Start off with a Strong Strategy for the Best Web Development Results
It’s been said “Where you start is not as important as where you finish” ~ Zig Ziglar. We beg to differ, at least in the case of solving problems, addressing needs, or capitalizing on opportunities while redesigning a website. When working with a cross-disciplinary team of subject matter experts on a multi-tiered strategy, where you start will affect how you finish. This is because the way a problem is defined directs how we solve for it. This is not to say that there is only one correct way to finish – just that the beginning and the end are predictably related.
The purpose of determining how your start your web project is to increase the probability of achieving optimal results. Just being aware of the steps you take at the beginning could help minimize the need to backtrack, rework, or restart the project at any stage. Properly framing the problem, need or opportunity will help every stage thereafter build on each other, beginning with a solid strategy.
Starting Out with the Right Strategy
Oftentimes assumptions are made about the solution when first defining the actual need. So the strategy that follows becomes inherently faulty from the start since you’re plan is built to solve the wrong problem.
For example, the articulated need may be for “a better wheelbarrow.” But what was stated could be translated to mean “a way to more easily move things from one point to another” – which may be better addressed with alternatives other than a traditional wheelbarrow. A more accurate statement might address the job you are trying to complete and the situation where you encounter obstacles or difficulties, such as “I need a better way to move heavy debris in muddy worksites.” Many people who work on websites listen to the words said about a person or company’s issues without hearing the meaning behind them. In these cases we have a tendency to take what is given to us on the surface level to be accurate, complete, and the place to start.
How do you get beneath the veneer and to the heart of the issue? By asking questions such as…
- “Tell me WHY you need a “better wheelbarrow”? (You are trying to understand what they are trying to accomplish – what “job” they are trying to get done.)
- Tell me what you want that you are not currently getting?
- Could you give me a few examples of when you encountered the issues you are facing?
- What would the ideal scenario look like? (Have them describe the perfect scenario without using the word wheelbarrow.)
- What is your desired outcome and how would this make a difference relative to your current situation?
Putting the cart before the horse could have been experienced first-hand at a doctor’s visit. They ask you a number of questions about what you walked in thinking was a straight-forward problem. When asked what their problem is, patients often describe a self-diagnosed remedy to what they think is the ailment. However, what we see is not always all there is. For example, a headache is a symptom to the problem of swollen blood vessels which could be exacerbated by tensions, stress, trauma or a tumor. So in this case a headache is just the symptom, erroneously defined as the problem. Swollen blood vessels could be caused by a growing tumor – so the tumor is the root cause to the problem of swollen blood vessels – which is described as a headache. The communicated need within the problem statement is often self-prescribed because the solution is already assumed and baked into it and, as a result, directs our thinking into establishing different ways to solve it. In this case, the recommendation might be to go to bed, place a cold compress on your forehead, do yoga, etc. The treatment for a simple headache, (symptom), not the root cause.
Turn this scenario to your web project. “I need a website” is not a root problem, it’s a symptom of not having an online brand presence, which is negatively affecting your company’s ability to increase reach and revenue share within your target market. To begin your web project effectively, you need to define the problem properly so it could be solved appropriately. “We do not have a sufficient web presence and are losing market share.” This definition opens the solutions to the entire digital landscape, from a website, to social media and advertising, email and PR. The resulting solution will perform better to reach your goal of increasing market share, and the clearly-defined problem reduces the potential for pitfalls and restarts along the way.
So what’s the takeaway? A well-defined and clear goal based on a thorough understanding of the right problem and its root cause will give you insights into a better method of attack than accepting what is given on face value. People who breeze past the initial set-up stages ultimately get derailed, or wind up wasting time and money correcting preventable problems or reaching the finish line unscathed but with a diluted or weaker result. Proactive planning, with a well-defined problem, root cause, goal and strategy, will more often lead to better solutions, on time and within budget.