As a web developer whose other skills & talents are slightly blasé, I often find myself thinking about how much better many service vendors, local businesses, and even contractors could look if they used their website as an actual extension of their work or offer.
Not just improving their online storefront in terms of design, I believe that look and feel actually comes second to service/product and website organization – but structure and data relationships that can help build a solid website and give the impression of thought-leadership should come first before anything else. imho
A Website: More Than Just A Brochure
Planning on how a website is going to be built upon once the development and deployment process is done and over with is a piece that is often overlooked. Creating easy ways to add to and, more importantly, automatically connect and improve the worth of existing content is something that a good web developer can help plan and deliver.
There are so many ways that a talented and well-informed developer can provide an informative and converting user experience; from custom widgets to [shortcodes] to external API (or even OpenAI) integration to two-way taxonomy.
My personal attraction to this method of development started about 7 years ago when I worked for a WordPress marketing agency whose lead developer was extremely thorough in abstracting business processes, products, and services – right down to the smallest minuscule details.
Some of his techniques might have seemed a little overboard to the untrained eye, but planning the organization of a website upfront and before even booting up a local environment can ensure years of building upon a brand that will not require more web development (rather just content development) and will future-proof a site for years to come.
That method of web development was inspiring to me and I now look at the digital reflection of the physical world differently.
A Real World Example Of Our Local Tea Shop
There’s a small tea shop down the corner, the woman who runs it seemingly knows too much about tea. She’ll quite literally talk your ear off while you’re shopping in the store, knowledge about tea for days. But their website sucks.
Now I know there are probably plenty of other sites out there that have a treasure trove of information about tea, but they’re not who my wife and I buy our tea from. And granted, we currently buy our tea from this shop regardless of their online presence but we’re also not their traditional customer. I mean, what normal user opens their browser’s inspector when looking for tea?
But with as much insight on tea that this particular business owner has, they could (and should, from my web dev point of view):
- be interconnecting related teas and taxonomy tagging single tea products
- be creating a cozy social media presence around tea, tea history, and tea facts
- be creating cornerstone overview parent pages on tea families and variants
- be writing and managing a personal blog about their knowledge of tea
- be utilizing JSON schema for their tea and tea-related products
Instead it’s unplanned chaos that the original developer didn’t plan for.
It’s not just the tea shop down the street, there are constant reminders of how far behind websites can get when they’re not initially developed with the future in mind. Centrally managed data is the way to go, anything else is setting you up for future failure.