Dozens of frameworks and methodologies are used in project work. There are no people left who have not heard about agile, scrum, kanban, and other approaches. Each of them promised to become a silver bullet that will help to effectively launch and develop IT products. But in practice, only competent work with risks allows you to bring projects to the end at any cost.
In this article, we will try to consider the most important risks that may stand in your way. The material will be useful to everyone involved in the project work.
It is customary to single out the following criteria that a project must meet to be considered successful:
- launched on time;
- without exceeding the budget;
- with a minimum number of defects;
- works as intended;
- people use it;
- solves the goals that were set before him;
- meets the business requirements of key stakeholders;
- delivers the originally promised value to the business.
In practice, these parameters are rarely met. With little difference in estimates, studies from the Standish Group, Project Management Institute, Gartner, Wellingtone, and other respectable organizations tell us that a third of IT projects fail and half fail. Just think, this is a staggering statistic.
It’s hard to tell what level of initiatives were sampled, but let’s assume they’re big stories like the failed $1.2 billion upgrade of KMart’s IT infrastructure that was one of the key factors behind the company’s bankruptcy.
What about an individual, larger-scale development? After all, the more complex the system, the more it runs the risk of not surviving to be put into operation. Therefore, any customer and contractor should face the question – of how not to get into the cemetery of unfinished projects.
Let’s figure out what can go wrong with custom development, and what to do about it:
1. Choosing a CMS
A mistake when choosing a CMS (content management system) can lead to many difficulties in the future, including financially costly ones (if you need to change the CMS when introducing additional functionality). Before developing a site, you must clearly understand what the purpose of the site is in the long run: will it be just a business card of your company or in the future, you plan to sell your product from the site
Some customers choose to develop websites on constructors. Creating such a site is quite quick and easy, but optimizing it can be difficult and often impossible due to limited access to logic files. In human terms, you will be limited only to what the creators of the constructor come up with, and include only those modules and functions that are in the constructor repository.
2. Semantic core and site structure
Collecting the semantic core and designing the site structure before starting work are the basics of site building. It is necessary to collect the most complete SA. Any additional information will help: 1C catalog (if any), data on product categories – all this must be taken into account in the work.
Based on the collected and clustered requests, the approximate structure of the resource will be clear. It would be nice to immediately design a relevance map. You can not create all the pages according to the developed structure at once if you are limited by the budget. But in the future, you will have a clear plan for which pages you need to add to the site for its development.
Also, based on this information, it will be clear what filters can be done, whether it is necessary to create a blog, and what queries can be promoted in it.
Let’s consider the catalog separately: it should be simple and understandable for users with a proper hierarchy of main categories and subcategories. The visitor must make 3-5 transitions to be on the desired product card. You should remember about navigation on the site, namely about breadcrumbs – so the user will clearly understand where he is.
From our own experience, we also met this: the site structure for an online store was developed based on the retail chain catalog, but the catalog pages were worked out only by the filter and were prohibited from indexing in robots.txt. This is a gross mistake for the further promotion of the site. The client had to pay a considerable amount to collect semantics, redesign the structure and implement new pages. In order not to step on the same rake for you, immediately negotiate the collection of semantics and navigation structure with the developers.
Semantic URL, or SEO-Friendly URL – all these are the names of the URL path, consisting of understandable and most preferred words for both the user and search engines.
Properly configured CNC on the site allows not only to determine the content of the page (guess by the name what is in the document) but also improve indexing through the use of keywords. When generating addresses, use transliteration.
A few tips for setting up the CNC:
- the address should be simple and short;
- the address should match the content of the page (ideally use the title of the document);
- use a hyphen (-) to separate, not a symbol
Creating a CNC seems to be considered a trifle, but it still has its weight in website promotion. If addresses are used incorrectly, sooner or later you will have to redo them: set up 301 redirects from old addresses. Because of this, the site will be re-indexed, and all this leads to temporary drawdowns of the site, and sometimes to non-temporary ones. So make sure your developers create pages with the correct CNC right away.
4. Domain selection
It also plays an important role in the further promotion and recognition of the site. The domain must:
correspond to the brand/company name or the main activity of the company with the occurrence of a key query;
be loud and short. A long site name tends to be difficult to write and read;
correspond to the domain zone, depending on the region in which you are going to promote your resource. For Russia, .ru and .com are optimal.
After you have decided on the domain name and domain zone, you should decide on the main mirror. The site can be accessed with or without www. To promote, you need to choose one thing and set up 301 redirects from other domains to the main mirror. If you have an SSL certificate connected, then you should set up 301 redirects from HTTP.
If you plan to further attract traffic to the site from offline advertising, then you should register a domain name in .rf and make a 301 redirect from it to the main one, since it is much easier for users to remember it than in Latin. But I do not recommend using .rf domains as the main mirror – there are features in promoting domains in Cyrillic. And this leads to additional costs that are not comparable with the price of the domain itself.
5. Secure HTTPS protocol
The new site must be secure in everything. At the end of 2016, Google announced an additional site ranking factor – the presence of a secure HTTPS information transfer protocol. In Google Chrome, HTTP sites are marked as insecure. To avoid such a problem, make sure that your web studio has connected an SSL certificate. If you first make a site on HTTP, then sooner or later you will still have to move to HTTPS, and these are additional costs and time because crawling the site by search robots takes some time.
Having an SSL certificate is also respect for your customers, think about their security and solve such problems at the start, and not when you have already invested a couple of hundred thousand in the promotion of the resource.
6. Initial optimization
When accepting a site, be sure to pay attention to the minimum optimization:
creating a robots.txt file – at least a template one, where the XML sitemap will be written. For large sites, an auto-generated valid sitemap is required. It is necessary to check the compliance of the XML sitemap and the robots.txt file – the presence of prohibited pages from indexing in the sitemap;
title and description tags – at least their minimum filling, the content of the main key queries in them. Of course, it will be a big plus for the site owner if the developers make it possible to autocomplete these tags according to the “mask” you need;
we also include here the installation of analytics counters to receive statistics data from the very first days of the site’s life, to analyze how users behave on the site.
7. Website loading speed
Search engines do not like slow sites, so loading speed should be given special attention. You can check it using a special Google tool. After the analysis, the reasons for the low speed will be indicated.
The main problem is usually unoptimized images. If you find problems with the download, ask your developer to level them.
8. Data markup and code validity
Also an important point. The micro-markup should be laid at the stage of creating the site, it will be easier and cheaper than later looking for the output of the necessary variables and rewriting the site templates. You can mark up anything: contacts, product cards, recipes, ratings and reviews, breadcrumbs. Thus, it will be easier for search robots to understand and crawl your site. We recommend using the schema.org dictionary.
The best advice that can be given when creating a site is not to use a CMS or standard solutions, but immediately make a scalable site using proven frameworks such as Django. The Django web framework is used by Instagram, Disqus, Mozilla, The Washington Times, Pinterest, YouTube, Google, and more.
9. Correct server response
When accepting a site, it is also worth checking the server response of both existing pages and deleted ones. First of all, this is important for search robots. For non-existent pages, the server response should be 404 (page not found) or 410 (page permanently deleted).
To make it easier for a visitor to find an analog when they land on this page and reduce the number of bounces from 404, it is necessary to link it to the landing page of a link to the main one, for example, to a catalog. Non-existent pages should be beautifully designed.
10. Adaptation to mobile
The created site should also be adaptive for mobile devices. Not only because mobile traffic is growing every day but also because Google has a mobile index as a priority. And if your site is not adaptive for mobile devices, then you will lose the lion’s share of traffic.
You can test your website for responsiveness using Google. In addition, you also need to take into account that robots.txt has access to CSS, JS files, and images for Googlebot. Otherwise, Google will not evaluate the adaptability of the site.
All risks are connected in one way or another. One problem not fixed in time can cause a snowball effect. But as experience shows, there are three universal ways to prevent and minimize the consequences of risks:
- Fixing potential risks;
- Action plan to avoid them;
- Willingness to change course and search for alternative solutions.
But the IT outsourcing market already has a solution for them – IT consulting. This is an exchange of experience, qualified advice, and a powerful boost for your work.
There are three levels of IT and Django consulting: consulting-audit, applied, and strategic consulting. They differ in the level of tasks that the customer sets for consulting: from tactical and minor to strategic ones.