Successful websites don’t just appear out of thin air. More often than not, they require a team of professionals to build and operate. Even websites that seem to be run by lone individuals (like this one) often involve the participation of others. Before actually beginning the work of creating the website, then, it’s important to consider the many different kinds of expertise that may be required, as well as identify who will provide them.
Domain Registration and Hosting Setup. The website will have to have a home, so you’ll need someone to register the domain and set up hosting. Anyone with basic web development experience will likely be able to handle this, so it’s possible to kill two birds with one stone. It’s also possible to get help from a prospective hosting provider at little or no charge. Outsourcing this bit is generally acceptable, since it rarely needs to be performed more than once.
Design. Depending on the intended website, this can require a lot of expertise or next to none. If you’re launching a blog, for example, you’ll more than likely be able to find any number of free design templates online. In fact, many different software platforms (e.g., Drupal, Smarty, OSCommerce, WordPress, etc.) are programmed with extensible design features in mind. The level of customization your site requires will determine whether or not you need a full-fledged web designer, and whether you’ll need them on a temporary or ongoing basis.
Development. Much like design, you may not need a web developer or you may need a whole team of them depending on the kind of website you’re launching. The availability of a platform that does what you need out of the box is the key factor. If you can find a software solution that fills all of your needs without customization, you may only need a developer to set it up. If, on the other hand, you have to tweak the software to suit your needs or, worse still, no such software exists, you’ll probably need a developer or two on hand for coding and troubleshooting.
Content Production. Copywriters, flash developers, photographers, videographers, bloggers, editors… all of these responsibilities and more may be involved in putting together the content for your website. Take a moment to determine the significant content elements that are likely to be involved. You may be able to outsource one-time projects, while ongoing content needs will likely require dedicated producers.
Management. Whatever your website’s purpose, someone needs to ensure that it stays on course to achieving it. You may need someone to coordinate the designers, developers, and content producers, someone to manage products and customer relationships, someone to direct the online community, and so forth.
Promotion. Think of your website as an engine. Sound construction, quality fuel, and competent operation will take it a long way. Constuction and operation, of course, are provided by your designers, developers, content producers, and managers. Quality fuel, in the sense of qualified traffic, is provided by your promotion experts. Of course, there are many ways to generate it, including search engine optimization, PPC advertising, banner ad placement, social media marketing, and real world marketing, but each is a discipline unto itself. Depending on the magnitude of your goals, you may need to use every promotional tactic in the book or just a handful of them.
My Sources of Expertise
As I mentioned above, this blog is very much a one-man show. However, it’s worth noting that I didn’t provide all of the expertise to get it up and running. Specifically, I used the latest WordPress distribution, which will serve all of my development needs with minimal tweaking, as well as the Dropshadow template for my design. That doesn’t alleviate my work load, of course; I’m still responsible for everything else, including copywriting, comment moderation, blog promotion, and maintenance. Still, it’s interesting to see how a website as seemingly simple as a single-author blog does in fact involve the expertise of many other individuals.
In my next post, I’ll discuss the last step before you commence with development, choosing an online brand.