7 deadly web development mistakes

This tutorial is written and contributed by Marnie Pehrson. See footnote for more info.

Over the last few years, I've worked with several companies in the development of larger-scale, funded Web sites. During this time, I've seen some mistakes made that can totally undermine the success of the Web project. I call these the 7 Deadly Web Development Mistakes.

  1. High Initial Programming Costs. A common mistake is to spend too much initially on programming before you prove that the site can draw traffic. For example, let's say your Internet site accepts classifieds. You could either post them manually for a while until your traffic is built up, or you could spend thousand(s) having this system automated immediately. Money would be better spent on marketing than on expensive programming until the site builds up enough traffic.
  2. Funding Fixed Expenses Too Soon. Another mistake is to spend valuable funding on fixed expenses. Renting an office, buying a building, paying for roll-over lines and hiring employees can all fall into this category. Unless you have the sales to warrant these expenditures, let them wait! You can easily run an Internet presence from your home on a shoestring.
  3. Buying Servers and Dedicated Lines Too Soon. It's usually not necessary to buy servers and have dedicated T1 or T3 connections from the start. Just because you expect to have large amounts of traffic doesn't mean you will have this traffic immediately. You can start off with a $30-$50 account with your domain on a server owned by an ISP and save yourself these up-front costs.
  4. Not Testing the Waters. Never just assume that your idea will work because it makes sense on paper. Instead of spending all the money to go whole-hog, consider taking your growth in phases. Test your product or service on a site that isn't automated or doesn't have the most commercial graphics possible. As long as you have an attractive, organized design you will be ok. Test and see if your products or services sell on a small scale. Then, when you see sales and have tracked some traffic-to-sale ratios, you'll be ready to consider more expansive measures.
  5. Misappropriating Advertising Dollars into Development. Another common mistake is to spend so much money on development that you don't have anything left for advertising. Even the slickest site won't bring in visitors (or sales) if you don't advertise and promote it. Don't waste valuable marketing dollars on bells and whistles.
  6. Assuming that if we build it they will come. It's becoming increasingly more difficult to promote Web sites through search engines and directories to get the traffic you need. Targeted on-line and off-line advertising and promotion will be necessary for success.
  7. Demanding Perfection Immediately. Too many people want everything perfect before they go live. While you waste all your time trying to get everything perfect, the Internet changes, someone else runs with the same idea. *Getting there first* is often more important than *Getting there perfect.* Apply the 80-20 rule to projects instead. You can get up and running and testing the validity of your product on-line with 20% of the time, resources and money. Wait to spend 80% of your resources polishing that last 20% once you've proven the stability of your site.

Now you may think I'm telling you to take things slow, and you're afraid if you're an overnight success you won't be prepared for the extra bandwidth, traffic, mass sales, etc. This needn't be the case. Plan everything in advance. Research all your costs associated with success ahead of time. Have these upgrades waiting in the wings. Know exactly how you'll accommodate increased traffic and increased sales. Go with an ISP that has a growth plan available to help you move from one phase of success to the next without a glitch.

Spec out your expansion plan and get quotes from web development professionals and developers before you go live. Decide on exactly which developers, programmers and graphic designers you will use and have them ready to upgrade your site as needed. If you have all your research done ahead of time, you will have minimal growing pains and will have maximum use of your precious capital.

Marnie L. Pehrson is the founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants and the International Association of Computer Professionals. She's an Internet strategist and content developer who creates industry specific Web communities. Check out more of her work at Pehrson Web!..