Oct 18, 2011

What Your Car Can Teach You About Website Development

If you think you don’t understand the lifecycle of building a website, but you have a car, you probably have a deeper knowledge base than you realize. Website design and development requires many similar elements as purchasing and maintaining your car.

1. Cars need maintenance. Without regular oil changes, tire rotations and the occasional tune-up, you won’t get anywhere near the mileage you should out of your car. Websites also require regular maintenance. A properly maintained website will better withstand technology changes than one not maintained, which will most likely need to be replaced.

2. Know the features you want before you buy a car. Knowing the features and options you are looking for before you buy will save you money in the long run. While you can always add options and accessories after your purchase, it will cost you twice as much. In a similar fashion, if you build a site now without planning on the features you will add next year, you’ll spend twice as much in two years rather than implementing the majority of the functionality now.

3. No car is perfect for everyone. If a car dealer starts telling you which car is perfect for you the moment you walk in the door, you’d probably run from that dealership as fast as you could. In a similar manner, if an agency recommends a content management system or e-commerce system without exploring your long-term goals and strategies, you should do the same. It is important for the marketing agency developing your website to understand the website functionality you are looking for and how it relates to your long-term goals and strategies.

4. Not all cars have the same life longevity. There are cars that have a reputation for lasting for 200,000 miles or more, but if you’re shopping for a racecar that’s not a realistic expectation. In the same way, some websites may still be relevant and functioning after five years, but others may need to be rebuilt every couple of years. It is important to lay down the ground work when developing your website to determine if your site will still be functioning in two years or if it will need to be rebuilt by then. This determination, like many other aspects of your website, comes from the features, options and functionality you are looking for to meet your digital media goals.

5. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a new car. Most people are familiar with the phrase “nickel and dimed” when it comes to used or older cars, the point at which keeping the car running costs more than the monthly payment on a new car. Websites share this phenomenon — as the technology it’s built on gets older, the cost to keep it running increases while the site delivers less. This cost can become more than investing in a new site.

6. The gauges matter. You likely take the gauges in your car for granted, but imagine driving your car without a speedometer or fuel gauge — you would likely spend a fortune in speeding tickets and towing fees. Without the indicator lights, a significant amount of simple maintenance would turn into major repairs. If you’re not monitoring the performance of your website, you’re likely to encounter lost revenue and wasted marketing dollars. Simple tools such as Google Analytics can help you easily monitor your website performance and traffic.

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