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3 ways to screw up your next website

Editor's note: Josh Larson specializes in interactive design and SEO at Happy Medium LLC. He is filling in for Happy Medium Owner Katie Stocking. 

Launching a new website for your business doesn’t have to be complicated. But day in and day out, clients and web design companies alike do things that turn the process of building a website into a nightmare. 

Here are a few things that often happen during the website-building process. Each of these things will either make you or the web design company miserable, and each of them can easily be avoided.

1. Pay a ton of money to a company that doesn't do responsive design

The responsive web design movement has been around for a couple of years now, yet businesses are still paying web design companies their hard-earned money to develop a website that isn’t optimized for mobile devices.

This has to be frustrating for business-owners who think they’re getting a great deal as a web designer slaps a “fresh coat of paint” on their homepage. But the truth is that if your “brand new” site doesn’t look good on a non-desktop-sized screen, your website automatically becomes outdated. 

It doesn’t matter if the design looks great on paper, or if a visitor has a great experience using the website on a 27” iMac – as soon as someone tries to access the website on their phone or tablet, they’ll be pinching, zooming, and squinting their way off your website and to your competitor.

How do you avoid this? Be sure to pick a web design company with experience developing responsive websites or for the mobile platform specifically. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your money elsewhere.

2. Don't ask the right questions beforehand

You’ve chosen your web design company, and you’re ready to get moving on the project. Now it’s time to sit back and relax – the site will be picture-perfect, right?

Hold the phone – how can you be sure everything will meet your expectations if you don’t voice any concerns before the process begins? Ask anything from the most basic questions (How will I edit content on my website?) to more complicated questions (How will the user be notified of a completed order on my e-commerce website?).

Thoroughly asking questions before the process begins can be a great exercise. These questions help you define what’s important to your business and help you make sure the website will reflect your values.

Not asking questions doesn’t mean you’ll get a terrible website – but without guidance and a good knowledge of your company’s priorities, a web design company could deliver a product that’s not what you’ve been dreaming up.

3. Micromanage your designers

At the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to get too involved and start subtracting from the product’s quality as a whole.

This point applies to more than just web design, but in any client services industry, there are always a handful of clients who insist on micromanaging every detail of the product.

Sure – as a business owner, it’s your money, and you ought to have a say in the end-product. But there are processes for doing exactly this – gathering your input and creative direction and relaying it to the right people in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the productivity of the team.

Jumping in and sticking your hands in every part of the process will do a couple of things (hint: none of them involve getting a “way better product!”). In the world of web design, you’ll undermine the efforts of the designers and developers who are trying to create the best possible product. As soon as you, a business owner, start telling professional designers and developers how to do their jobs, you start lowering the integrity of the product.

Micromanaging your designers will almost certainly lead toward a product that no one is happy with. If you’re trying to handle every detail of the process as a business owner, and the website doesn’t meet your expectations, you can’t blame the designer or the developer anymore – the failure is on your shoulders.

You’ve hired a web design company for a reason: They’re good at what they do. So let them do their jobs, and a better product will become of it.

Hopefully, you’ve been able to identify with some of these mistakes and you feel more prepared when it comes time to work on your company website.

Tweet with me at @itsahappymedium and share any tips you have for a client/company relationship during the website design process.

-- Josh

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Or you can choose Dove Global Media in Las Vegas and not worry about your website sucking =]

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