Scenario: You are a small- to medium-sized business owner. You have a web presence and are savvy enough to realize that marketing online is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. So, understanding the benefits of delegation, you invest in a results-driven marketing agency. They have a rockstar consulting team at their disposal. Stellar content writers? Check. A design team that makes pixelated magic appear on the computer screen with what seems like just a few keystrokes and mouse swivels? Oh yeah, gotta have those.
And then… there’s the web developer.
The person who oddly stares at what seems like the same garbled mess of letters and symbols for hours on end (if you let him/her). The same person who, when asked a simple question such as “What is your ETA for this project?” dives into an unnecessarily long and obtrusively technical point-by-point rundown of the nuances of what the project entails… yet oddly still doesn’t give you the due date.
Yeah, that guy or gal.
The only employee at the agency who doesn’t use the new software everyone else is using because he or she is too busy trying to figure out how to code it instead.
Uh-huh, I heard your groan.
So when you finally have that meet-and-greet with your new marketing partners, and you pass by the web developer, no doubt staring intently at that laptop screen, you ask yourself… “What in the blue hell does this person do!?”
While this may be a slight exaggeration, many business owners struggle with the importance of having web developers as part of the business process. It’s not that most people don’t understand that they are important, it’s that most people don’t understand why they are important.
So web developers build websites… and they… um…
Let’s start with the most obvious reason for a web developer’s importance:
- THEY BUILD THE WEBSITE.
Or at least, they are an irreplaceable part to building a website.
Most web designers nowadays know enough HTML and CSS to build a pretty awesome website, whether it’s from the ground up or using a CMS like WordPress or Squarespace.
- But what happens when you want to add a custom piece of functionality to the site?
- What if the marketing team wants to install or modify the analytics code for tracking conversion?
- Who do you call when the server goes down?
These are all web developer concerns and responsibilities. The web developer knows how to troubleshoot and solve various technical issues, or at the very least, can ask the appropriate third-party vendors the right technical questions to get the issues resolved.
- TAILORING YOUR WEB PRESENCE TO YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS
Most websites start out the same …
Four to seven navigation tabs.
Great looking hero image.
Awesome content pages.
And so on.
However, as your business grows, so do the needs and responsibilities of your web presence. Your business is unique, and your website should follow suit. Custom functionality can range from one-of-a-kind interactivity for seasonal promotions to an extended and easy-to-use interface in the backend for all of your updates and monitoring. Gone are the days where the website is simply an online billboard; it is your connection to your customers. While your connection grows and evolves based on their needs, your website should accommodate and accentuate their experiences.
- BUILDING A WEBSITE ISN’T JUST… BUILDING A WEBSITE
A common misconception is that website development is a product. In actuality, it’s a service. Like any other service, there is no “end” to web development; it doesn’t stop once the website launches live. Once that perspective is realized, a business owner gets a much deeper grasp on how extensive planning, building, and maintaining a website really is.
Content management systems have made it very easy for non-technical users to manage, modify, and even analyze content on their websites. A multitude of plugins, extensions, and add-ons have given way to even more accessibility and use.
However, every system has a flaw, a shortcoming, or a limitation.
You and your business do not have time to halt with every technical nuance that your website incurs, so having a developer that knows the software build for your CMS is mission-critical. This person will know his or her way around, and if need be, code the way through most CMS limitations. The web developer may even provide a compelling case for using an alternative CMS that better suits your particular business needs.
- THE TROUBLE WITH TROUBLESHOOTING
A good developer can and will identify your technical problems. A great developer will provide a range of solutions. An awesome developer… will choose and implement the best solutions available.
Many times, a developer can only know the best solutions when presented with the entire picture. Not just from a technical perspective. Not just from a marketing perspective. Not just from a business perspective.
The. Entire. Picture.
This requires seamless communication and integration with all departments and stakeholders. The developer should not be an island. Both his/her input and output is integral to the foundation of your online presence.
- …AND ALONG CAME GOOGLE…
Analytics have completely revolutionized how we do business. We no longer need to “guesstimate” our next marketing move. Now we can use user data to determine customer behavior, create specialized strategies to appeal to those behaviors, implement those strategies, collect the resulting data, and repeat.
During one of Google’s Analytics Academy videos, there is a segment regarding creation of a measurement plan. The instructor, Justin Cutroni, outlines building an analysis infrastructure.
“Start with a measurement plan, which identifies your business objective. The next step is to understand your technical environment, by documenting your technical infrastructure. In this stage you’ll be asking your [development] team questions like, ‘What are our server technologies,’ ‘Are we active on mobile,’ ‘Are we using responsive design,’ ‘Is the technologies we’re using make it possible to track everything we need to track?’ After defining your business needs, and documenting the technical environment of your business, the next step is creating an implementation plan […] Once the implantation plan is designed, the next step is to have the web development team[…] actually implement the tracking recommendations that you made.”
Furthermore, the notes to the lesson outline some additional technical considerations during the implementation phase, listing server redirects, AJAX events, and multiple domains/subdomains, among others. The web developer or, if you’re lucky, web development team will be the resident experts to help guide these decisions and curate these recommendations.
And there you have it!
Now you know what that guy or gal does… Okay, well you at least have a better idea. Here at Reunion Marketing, we not only understand this importance, but we have used our web developer (actually… it’s me!) to push the technical boundaries on how to better serve our clients. And not to mention… I’m a pretty cool guy.
Your new marketing partner is a powerful business resource, and each and every component to its team serves to better your marketing efforts. Even the web developer.