If you have ever worked with a development agency, you might have noticed, we are not perfect. No one is, we all make mistakes and web development agencies are no exception.
After all, we are human too – believe it or not. And, we are in a constant loop of learning – adapting – perfecting and back again to learning.
So, in this article, we will discuss some of the most prominent mistakes we made in the past, what we learned from the experience and how we raised above the situation.
Let’s dive in!
1. Agile development requires discipline
Our clients appreciate that we are an agile agency. It allows them to make changes during the project and adapt to new insights. But it requires discipline …
As a young development agency, we always wanted to build the platform our clients dreamed of. It was difficult to challenge the desired changes, even when we knew that it was not necessarily what they needed, or what they could afford.
We discuss all proposed changes during f.ex. a bi-weekly sprint meeting. Based on the importance, difficulty and urgency of the change, you as a customer decide whether we include the change at an extra cost or adjust other parts of the project scope to keep the budget. Simple yes – but it requires mutual discipline.
2. What’s a contract between friends?
Have you ever heard that in your line of work? “What’s a contract between friends” or “we don’t need to complicate things”. We had…
Even though we knew it was not the right decision, on a few occasions we still agreed to start work on a project without a contract. And this decision often backfired, because in web development mistakes are bound to happen. So when that happens, who is there to blame?
While we don’t use contracts for every small project, we make sure to discuss changes, updates, and milestones with you in regular meetings. More importantly, we will send an email your way with everything we agree on, so both of us keep track of our conversations – and we can easily go back and check what we discussed when in doubt.
3. Your designs will change – make sure your UX doesn’t
Whether you use a designer of your own or you choose to work with ours, our goal is to create a website or app that matches that as closely as possible. But that is not always possible because of scope changes or simply because of bad UX.
Because we didn’t know what we know now, we wouldn’t question the UX or how the scope changes affected the designs. As a result, many times our clients’ projects either looked quite different from the original designs or their users were unhappy with the flow.
After years of experience and working closely with very talented UI/UX designers, we can challenge your designs, bring suggestions and “poke holes” when we see a flow. We can tell you exactly how your change will impact the end results and you can decide if we should go for it – you still have the power, but we will help you make a much more educated decision.
4. One size does not fit all
Web development agencies are in a constant loop of learn – adapt – perfect – repeat. But when we see two projects that seem highly similar, we can’t help but generalize.
As many startup development agencies do in their early days, we have been a bit too general with our solutions at times. Especially when our clients asked for “a website like that one”.
So, quite a few of our projects looked very similar and not much differentiated one form the next. That also meant no competitive advantage for our clients.
We have learned over the years that each project is unique, no matter how similar they might seem. So, depending on how complex the project is, we always use wireframes, a functional brief, and – if needed – high-level prototypes.
This way we find that one feature or detail that differentiates you from your competitors and make sure that it stands out like a lighthouse in the middle of the sea.
5. Change is inevitable, so embrace it
It’s believed that Agile development companies are especially skilled in this area, as the whole methodology is based on flexibility and adaptability.
However, even agile development houses sometimes struggle with change, and stubbornly keep to their own way of doing things – like refusing to adopt other technologies or change their workflow.
We focused on using one frontend, one backend, and one mobile development technology in the entire company, rather than having a diverse set of skills.
We were also very close to a waterfall agency rather than an agile one, simply because agile was still not as widely adopted, and we believed our clients would prefer fixed costs and not accept price estimations.
With the help of amazing clients like you and our inspiring board of directors who mentored us, we matured into the agile agency we are today.
Moreover, we are now embracing learning a variety of technologies, so when you bring your projects to us, we are ready to build you the best platform you deserve.
6. Fixed prices don’t go well with Agile development.
Agile development is dynamic, and it encourages you to make changes before and during the development process. But since scope changes can affect the estimations, fixed prices do not fit the bill.
Because we were more waterfall-oriented, we used to provide our clients with fixed prices. But that meant we didn’t estimate the time needed for skill learning or R&D, so we would often miss deadlines.
We stopped compromising. We value you as a client, and we know you value the happiness of our team and the quality of our work. So, we changed our pricing strategy to include research and learning.
And now, when we provide you with an estimation you know exactly what to expect. Moreover, you know the quality of the end results will meet your high expectations – and even surpass them.
7. Your website has to be mobile-first
Mobile compatibility facts:
- Google crawlers only index the mobile version of websites to enforce the Mobile-First rule;
- More than half of internet users come from mobile devices;
- It takes a mobile user 1s on average to decide if a website is worth their time, and this is mostly decided by how fast your platform loads.
We learned our trade before the “before mobile-first” mentality, so building mobile compatible websites was not included in our estimations by default.
Especially when working with a content management system like WordPress, or when we were in a hurry to push a website live sooner than we would like.
We make it a point to train you in mobile-first practices, so you understand why having a top mobile-compatible website is so important and why we need to pay extant attention to every mobile responsiveness detail.
This might take us a bit more time, but in the long run, you will ensure Google and your users will see you on that first search engine results page – right above your competition.
8. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a web development agency by its website.
A company’s website is more than just a digital platform. It is a complex calling card that showcases what you excel at and how you are different from your competition.
We may or may not have forgotten to update our website for about three years. The reality is we wanted to impress you and we used AngularJS, a technology that quickly became depreciated.
But because we didn’t have the time and resources to rebuild it, we left it “for later”. And that cost us quite a few leads.
We finally said “enough is enough” – we did not want to lose any potential prospects because of our aging website. So, we rebuilt it using something that will never become depreciated – WordPress and Elementor.
So, our marketing team can easily update and maintain the site, without any development skills, and our developers can focus on your projects.
9. To build you your dream website, we need to understand your users
If you are like most entrepreneurs, you don’t know much about user experience design, but you know your users and what they need – just not exactly how to deliver.
Because we didn’t always understand our client’s users, we couldn’t bring improvements to the designs, user flow etc. We mainly focused on delivering tasks rather than asking questions or have brainstorming sessions.
Instead of jumping straight into development, we arrange a workshop with you, so we find out.
- Who is your target group?
- What are their pains and gains?
- How will you solve these problems and how can we make that delivery even better?
10. Web design is just as important for your project as web development
Think of web design as the first step into your journey. This is your visuals – colors, fonts, layout, etc. Web development is the second step, turning the designs into your dream platform.
Only a few years ago we didn’t have extensive UX experience and often didn’t have an in-house designer to bring suggestions or give advice. So we focused on what we did know – web development.
With time and the help of extremely talented designers we had in our team, everyone in the company including project managers and developers learned to work with UX in mind.
So, even if we don’t have an in-house designer, we are still confident and experienced enough to look at a set of designs and make educated assumptions when they do not meet users’ high standards.
11. Your feedback helps us become better
Feedback is just as important as the initial client meetings when we get to know you, your business, and your needs.
Back in the day, we had feedback sessions only after a project was done, where we would ask our clients to share their thoughts on:
- What was their overall experience with working with the team;
- Was there anything they thought we should have done differently;
- Did they feel they missed something? etc.
This was great information to learn from and improve for the next client but did nothing for current or past clients.
We want to improve our relationship with you during the project, not just after. And we want to do our best while working with you, so your feedback throughout the project is invaluable to us.
It might not always be glowing feedback, but it is constructive criticism and we will learn from it. So, don’t hold back – continue to communicate with us so we can work better together.
No one is born with the skills or knowledge, but we made the choice to learn from our experiences and grow.
We might be a vastly more experienced and professional agency today, but we are still in the Learn – Adapt – Perfect – Repeat loop, so we will never stop bettering ourselves.
You, your business, and your digital platform deserve the best value for money, and with your help and feedback, we will make sure you get nothing less.
So if you are looking to build a new web or mobile app, or you need a second opinion or you are looking for more guidance, don’t hesitate to book a free meeting with one of our experts.
We are here for you.