“Measure twice, cut once.” – Carpenter’s Motto
Scalability. You want it. “They” (the Evil Developers) tell you that you need it. So, when building or rebuilding a website, the emphasis of the initial conversation is typically on how scalable the platform and the technology will be in order to ensure that your website can grow with your business.
This is especially true for those of you currently looking to rebuild your website since it’s rather safe to say that you paid for a solution that is no longer able to meet your newly developed needs. Allow me to offer you a sad truth – just because a custom website is technologically scalable does not mean that it is strategically scalable. Hopefully you won’t mind a slight indulgence in a simplistic yet poignant analogy (since those are always fun): You’re building a ladder. You want to make sure that the foundation of the ladder is strong and built in a way that allows you to build as high as you will ever possibly need to go. The ladder is technologically scalable. What happens when you come to realize that you built the ladder against the wrong wall?
While you are probably not going to be building your shiny new custom website it still falls to you to ensure that the application meets your needs. A Custom Blueprint affords you a myriad of opportunities; I’ve listed the most important below:
Determine and outline your specific needs prior to approaching potential vendors
This will work wonders for your RFP process! Identifying the problem is half of the solution. Too often organizations approach web development companies with very little (and sometimes nothing) prepared and attempt to collect quotes on a custom application development based off of sit-downs, conference calls and due diligence meetings conducted by each individual vendor. Not only will this eat up your time, since you’re essentially answering every question by a multiple of however many bids you expect, but it also places you at an extreme disadvantage in making a determination. Depending upon the conversation each vendor will walk away with his or her own unique perspective on the application you want. You’ll end up comparing apples to tire irons.
A Website Blueprint allows you to detail your specific (and often times exact) needs in order to allow potential developers to have an extremely clear understanding of exactly what it is you’re looking for. This will ensure that the bids you receive are competitive and all based upon the same criteria.
But I don’t know what I want
That’s okay! You’re not building the site and in many cases you’re defining strategy that only you can define. Things like your long term goals, target market and buyer personas, unique offerings and value propositions. Even when the Website Blueprint becomes slightly technical, just complete as much of it as you can and then use the time you spend interviewing vendors to get their recommendations on how to fill in the gaps. This gives you the unique opportunity of seeing how creative each of your prospective vendors can be within the confines of your specific needs.
So much more than a simple RFP (Request for proposal)
While many readers (especially those of you well acquainted with the process) will look at this as a simple RFP builder I feel the need to point out that the Website Blueprint’s job, unlike an RFP, does not stop once you’ve secured a vendor. An RFP is meant to secure a vendor who subsequently pulls together a technical specification document and uses that to build your application. The Website Blueprint is the foundation of that technical specification document. It outlines and details the high level strategic approaches your organization wants to take in regards to each of the major facets of web design and development. Your Blueprint is the beginning stages of your scope of work and the fact that you’re building it in-house ensures that the final product will be uniquely in tune with your specific needs.
Define the requirements for your custom application for constant reference
Your Website Blueprint is the perfect source material for both you and your vendor of choice to look to every time there is a question about how to proceed next. It’s also a fantastic piece of material for you to use as a general scope of work in order to ensure that you get exactly what you were promised. Add it as an addendum to the Development Contract you sign and make sure to be very clear about your expectations. The application must meet the needs of the Website Blueprint in order to be considered complete.
So what’s included in the website blueprint?
Once complete your Website Blueprint will help ensure that your new custom website accomplishes the epic “Fantastic Four”:
The Blueprint walks you through a step by step process and helps you:
- Determine and define your overarching technological goals
- Outline your target demographic
- Build your buyer personas
- Identify and create unique call to action(s)
- Detail required functionality
- Build a custom sitemap that outlines what content will reside on your site and where it will be housed
- Create functional wireframes that identify how and where each of the primary components of your site will be used
- Build an application workflow that illustrates how the application will be used
Having an effective Website Blueprint will give you an invaluable tool in ensuring the web application you request is exactly what you receive.
Download your copy of our FREE eBook on how to build a website blueprint by clicking on the image below: