5 Common Web Development Problems and How to Avoid Them
A solid web presence is essential for businesses today. One survey found that 48% of the people felt a company’s website was the number one criteria for determining whether a business was credible.1 And new research suggests that by 2020, web-influenced and online sales will comprise over half of all purchases in the United States.2 The takeaway for your business: make sure you have a well-designed website if you want to compete in the modern business world.
But your company’s website does so much more than merely generate sales and expand your reach. It also gives your customers a source of information that fosters the long-term relationships crucial for future revenue.
Because your web presence is so important, it’s vital that you do it right. However, keeping a project on track can be difficult–even for seasoned professionals. If you want your web project to proceed smoothly, keep reading to get solutions to five common web development problems.
1. Avoid Scope Creep
You’ve made a plan; you’ve broken the work down into achievable chunks, and you start the work. Everyone’s excited to build this great thing. In their excitement, the team gets new, different, perhaps even better ideas. That’s normal. And it’s ok. The question is, what are you going to do with these new ideas?
Scope creep has killed many a good project. And many great developers and project managers have watched helplessly while their project spirals out of control. That’s why it’s so important that when you make the plan, you spell out exactly how you intend to deal with the inevitable changes that creep into every project.
Your plan for dealing with change should explicitly layout how to answers these questions: Does this change fit with the project goal? How long will it take and how much will it cost to incorporate this change? Who approves change requests–is it a group or an individual? If the change busts the budget or requires too much time, can it be added to a future release? Deciding ahead of time how you’ll deal with new ideas will keep your project from driving off course and into the weeds.
2. Define Success
It’s been said many times in many ways that ‘perfect’ is the enemy of ‘good.’ And it’s true. Without a clear notion of what you want to achieve, you can waste countless hours building something that meets some vague definition of perfection, but doesn’t achieve your goals.
The situation gets exacerbated when multiple stakeholders all have competing visions of what a perfect solution looks like. It may feel daunting to align the requirements from all these sources. But, there’s good news: it is possible.
To jump this hurdle, state the goal of your web project as precisely as you can, and get the stakeholders to buy off on the goal first. Make every decision in slavish devotion to the end goal. Maybe your goal is to engage prospective customers, or perhaps it’s to improve services to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Whatever your goal, ask whether the proposed change helps achieve it. If it doesn’t, cut it.
3. Create Clear Communication Channels
Here’s an open secret for you: there is no project without people. And the one powerful project tool people have developed–the tool that allowed our ancestors to build the great Pyramids–is communication.
Great communication doesn’t mean that everyone knows everything. That might even hinder progress. No, great communication means that the right people know what they need to know when they need to know it. And that takes a plan.
When creating a communication plan:
- Write down the names of the team members and stakeholders, and list their responsibilities. That way, everyone knows where to go when a problem arises,
- Decide at the outset how to inform the team and stakeholders on the project status, whether it’s a daily meeting, a live, shared status spreadsheet, a kanban board, or a weekly project summary email,
- Create a feedback timeline, ensuring that all team members understand when to ask for and receive comments,
- Document the escalation procedure. When an issue requires input from a stakeholder, the plan should say how to get ahold of them–whether you call them on the phone, or send them an email or text. Also, state how long the stakeholder has to respond.
These simple steps will protect your sanity, and keep your team and stakeholders engaged in the success of the project.
4. Test Security
Your beautiful new web app goes live (finally!), and everyone is thrilled with the result. Then, it gets hacked, and all that hard work is compromised. For major companies, it can be expensive and embarrassing for sensitive information to leak into public view. A small company, however, may be forced to shut their doors. Either way, it’s never good.
There are a few things you can do to minimize this risk. Incorporate pre-tested templates and security testing tools into the project pipeline to help a web developer detect and correct most vulnerabilities before the release. Make sure your developers are up to date on the latest threats and ways to prevent attacks, such as using parameterized queries that control the amount and type of information users can input into your website through a form. Set a monthly schedule for installing and updating the latest plugins, server-side technologies, and other 3rd party technologies. And of course, it’s a good idea to get an SSL certificate to give your web app an added layer of encryption.
5. Secure Top Talent
The internet’s ubiquitous presence in modern life has led to a shortage of talented developers worldwide. If you’ve been hiring in the tech sector for any length of time, you probably noticed how hard it is to find and retain qualified professionals.
Businesses have tried several solutions to the talent shortage with varying degrees of success. Some companies choose to hire from within, or hire promising talent with less experience, and provide on-the-job training. Others prefer to focus on networking, building a talent pipeline as a long-term solution to prepare for future job openings.
But for many companies, outsourcing some or all software development captures the top prize. Building an internal IT department with hard-to-find talent is difficult and expensive. And outsourcing provides an organization with access to experts who excel at nimbly ramping up and delivering results, without overburdening your internal team.
Outsourcing your development efforts not only solves the talent shortage issues, but it can also help to prevent the other common problems with web development. An experienced team can improve communication between stakeholders, ensure that deliverables finish on time, manage expectations and change requests, and guarantee the latest and best security measures protect your web app investment. However, outsourcing does have some risks you should consider. Weigh the pros and cons before making an expensive decision.
For more information on how StudioLabs can help your company to overcome the everyday challenges of web application development, contact us today.