Overcomplicating a Website Project
Technology professionals have long been known for “tech speak”. We web and internet professionals have largely adopted that culture as the internet, software development, and system administration all form closer and closer ties. Many times these terms are useful because they serve as shorthand for best practices or efficiently discussing technically complicated principles. Unfortunately, a lack of discretion by web and internet professionals in using these terms has caused them to be misapplied or misunderstood outside of that technical sphere. The jargon and nuances of the internet continue to grow and it often overcomplicates launching, redesigning, or re-purposing a website.
During a project to re-configure a website to focus on marketing conversion, a client said, “Can I get the wire frames for our landing page?” A basic wireframe existed from the last template redesign but was not specifically laid out for the new landing pages. The landing pages were based off the overall site layout but rather than ask questions, we prepared a basic wireframe specific to the landing pages that filled in a bit more content than the basic site wireframe did. After receiving the wireframe, the client called and said, “This isn’t what I want. I want the document that shows how the pages interlink.” The client simply wanted a copy of the sitemap that had already been constructed and approved.
The fault was ours for not asking a clarifying question but it serves as a small example of the wasted effort cause by miscommunication on terms that are becoming more universal but not fully understood. Wireframes were not necessary for the scope of the project but were introduced because it’s something that “should” be done.
When planning a website project, use the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Map out what is really necessary for your project. If it’s a large web launch or a platform migration for a substantial existing site, then a full blown process of steering groups, UI testing, sitemaps, and wire frames is appropriate.
However it’s rare for most trainers, consultants and professional coaches to have a project of that scope. It’s likely that existing materials either online or offline have the core content to build out the website project. A sitemap is often advantageous to use as a checklist that you have included all your targeted content and ensure that navigation is clear. Depending on the scope of the project, additional resources might be unnecessary because live testing or initial builds will inform the optimization rather than dedicated resources beforehand.
Having a plan for your website is key but going overboard with the planning wastes time and resources that could be spent actually building out the web project.