What do website development, entrepreneurship and awesome sex have in common?
All three can rock your world if you are mentally strong and disciplined enough to practice delayed gratification. Oh, and this: No matter how accomplished you think you are at these things, there’s a decent chance you’re not doing it as well as you could be.
The sex thing? That’s a discussion for another time, maybe over beers once we know each other a little better. And even though I believe anyone who hopes to be successful in the Internet marketing industry would do well to learn as much as possible about the principles of entrepreneurship, the concept of delayed gratification in business is not really what this is about, either.
It’s about this: It is a bad idea to skip or skim over the two most important steps in developing a kick-ass website. But what are those steps? And why are they so important? More on that in a minute.
Listen, if you’re satisfied with your current process for website development; if you think you know what you’re doing and don’t need to know more; if all you care about is the quick fee you’ll make off your next website launch; by all means, feel free to move along. Best of luck to you.
If you’re still reading, good. It means you would have done well as one of those kids in the Stanford marshmallow test. Rather than gobbling down that lone marshmallow in front of you, you have the patience required to discipline yourself to wait for that second marshmallow you were promised.
Here It Is
The two steps you should never – ever – skip or skim over in website development are the precise definition of goals and the proper use of functional mockups.
OK, no big secret, that. Of course you set goals. Of course you use functional mockups. But do you, really?
Here’s the thing. After initial discovery with a client, once you have that first, vague notion of how to proceed, how often do you find yourself skipping directly to the development of design mockups? Come on, be honest. You and I know that’s the fun part – it’s where the artistry of web development lives.
Yet, the artistry can’t come to life without the consummation of a happy marriage between clear, well-defined goals based on a deep and thorough discovery process and a functional wireframe designed specifically to achieve those goals. Only when those two steps are integrated – and approved by the client – is a project truly ready to graduate to the design mockup phase.
Look, I’m not necessarily saying you’re taking lazy shortcuts if you don’t pay enough attention to the definition of goals and the creation of functional mockups. What I’m saying is, you might not even know you’re selling those steps short. The point is, you probably already do this well, but you might not be doing it as well as you could be.
So, why are these steps so important?
Because well-defined goals establish traceable metrics that tell you – in no uncertain terms – how well or poorly your site is doing. These metrics, in turn, help you learn about what works and what doesn’t, lessons that you can incorporate into your future websites. And using functional mockups the right way allows you to think clearly – without the distraction of a website’s many potential design bells and whistles – about how you intend to achieve those established goals.
It takes time, it takes thought, and yes, it might feel a little painful and tedious at times. It will undoubtedly slow you down and delay the “fun” part, as well as the tangible reward of a launched and successful site. In some respects, it takes the magic out of website development, because you are forced to do things a little more clinically.
But these two steps are absolutely mandatory if you want to deliver meaningful results to your clients and reach your full potential in the industry. And why would you settle for less than your full potential? Be strong. Be patient. Practice discipline. Trust me on this – it’s worth the wait.
Have you seen these steps skipped? Tell me your war story below?