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11 min read

For this article, we thought we’d get the opinions of some of the best web developers, website builders and testers in the world and have them look at some of the back to basic, fundamentals.

To keep it simple (and broad!), we posed the question ‘what is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?’

Although there is a little bit of overlap in some of the answers, there are some really insightful takes on the most important factors to consider when developing a website.

website coding

Tom Burdon, Applications Manager & Senior IT Developer, Procter and Gamble

Tom Burdon’s LinkedIn profile

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

I think this question depends on the user’s needs. For me, I would always say that the usability of the site is the most crucial aspect. If you are wanting a website which is going to get a lot of views/ footfall, then you need something that everyone can use, regardless of platform or any impairments they may have. But the simple point is that, if the buttons, layout, or overall functionality of the website is not meeting desired standards, then you are already destined to lose customers.

However, as mentioned the question depends on the use. As for something such as an E-commerce website, the main thing you would need to look at is security. If you have a lot of transactions back & forth, then you need to focus on making that as secure as possible, with encryption, secure connections, etc. Usability may take a back seat so long as users can know that any data that they are providing is secure and will be fine going forward.

So, to go to the question, probably the key thing to aid in helping answer this question is to get exactly what the client needs with good requirements gathering.

website hosting matrix green text on a screen

Will Hurst,Senior Web Developer, Canny Creative

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

The most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website is the markup.

This includes:

  1. How content looks
  2. How semantic the markup is for the content
  3. The accessibility
  4. The page speed
  5. The SEO

Markup, content and semantics

The correct markup needs to be used for the content on the webpage. This includes your headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes, images and videos.

Without the correct markup, your content won’t look correct.

For example, without any heading elements you won’t have any text that splits content up into sections. It would be like reading a book without any chapters.

This leads onto the next point. Semantics. Semantic HTML reinforces the content on your webpage. In simple terms, semantic markup helps search engines and accessibility software understand the content and its importance on your webpage.

For example, for pieces of text that are the main focus points of a paragraph – this text can be placed inside markup that puts an emphasis on how important the piece of text is.

Google workspace rebranded icons

Google page speed insights

According to Google page speed insights, markup also plays a huge factor in your website’s overall score. Your website’s score is broken up into performance, accessibility (we have touched on this already), best practices and SEO.

First things first, page speed.

In simple terms page speed is how fast your website loads. This includes things like the time it takes until your webpage can be interacted with and any layout shifts – this will be things like moving/flashing elements as certain areas of your webpage loads.

The next element is SEO. in short, the correct markup on your webpage will allow search engine crawlers to understand your webpage’s content. A good example is links. Links need to have descriptive text so that search engines, users and accessibility software can fully understand where the link goes.

If links do not have descriptive text your website’s SEO will suffer.

There are other markup factors that contribute towards SEO.

Some of these include:

Mobile friendly design

Markup places content in the correct places for all screen sizes. CSS is needed for this.

  • Tap targets (the space around elements that can be tapped on from mobile devices)
  • Correct Meta tags
  • Title
  • Description
  • Correct font size
  • Headers and paragraphs

This topic has just briefly been touched on and there’s a whole lot more that can be discussed, but we wanted to get across that markup is such an important aspect when commissioning your new website.

If your webpage’s markup is poor, your website will suffer in:

  • Performance
  • Accessibility
  • Best practices
  • SEO

website hosting code on a laptop screen

Tom Greest, Director, Jarrow Consulting

Tom Greest’s LinkedIn profile

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

For me, the most important aspect to consider when creating a new website is identifying the user’s need for the website, and letting that need be the only driver for what is included and omitted.

It’s easy to forget in tech circles, where you devote 40 hours a week to a certain product or product set, that the user could not care less about your product. The end user visits a website, broadly speaking, to retrieve data or submit data — this could be retrieving data about the weather forecast, or submitting card details for purchase for instance.

No matter how ambitious your design is, or how modern your tech stack and working practices are, the website is of poor quality if the user cannot painlessly and efficiently do what they visited the site to do. One common source of this going wrong is not prioritising user research during the discovery phase.

Just as user experience and content designers are now a staple of software development teams to guide what developers build, user researchers are a valuable resource to guide designers in designing services that fulfil the user’s need in the most suitable way.

Another common source of the user need being neglected is found in absent or inadequate performance testing of sites, where a benchmark response time and capacity is not set as a requirement to be built against early on in the build.

If a user has a choice of 2 websites, one of which is beautifully designed but painfully slow and the other plain but efficient, the user will tend towards the faster site to achieve what they set out to do. With all of that in mind, I would reassert that the main considerations when first building or commissioning a new website are:

  1. Have I adequately tested for and identified my user need? and
  2. Is my proposed solution going to solve this need in the most user friendly way possible?

website applications

Luke Brandon Farrell, Lead Mobile Engineer at Qeepstake

Luke Brandon Farrell’s LinkedIn profile

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

One of the most important things when building a new website is to consider the possibility of using a no-code tool, such as Webflow, Shopify or Squarespace. No-code web design is increasing in popularity and power, 90% of the sites we build are built with Webflow.

In around 5 – 10 years web development as a profession will most likely become obsolete, and what will be in demand is designers. As a designer you should expand your skill set to no-code web development tools.

Of course, web applications will always be around, and we will need developers to build them, but for 98% of websites and business, you can achieve more than what you need going with the no-code approach.

These tools do a lot of the heavy lifting and are more approachable than running a web-server and writing code in Notepad++. They help you build websites with great SEO, well thought-out features, and almost full flexibility in design, and finally, they come a lot cheaper than hiring a programmer to build your online store!

computer code viewed through a pair of glasses

Jordan Rowe, Web Developer, Canny Creative

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

Site Speed and Performance

Website speed or performance is a term used to describe how quickly a web browser can fully load a website.

From a development perspective, the ultimate goal is for the users to not notice the performance of a website that I have made. While good performance is not often appreciated, bad performance is quickly noticed.

Having a site that performs well is absolutely essential not only for the end user experience but also for achieving a higher ranking in search results.

With over half of the world’s internet browsing being done on mobile devices, it is absolutely essential to ensure that your site can perform well on these less powerful devices. Also take into account that these devices are often using slower, shared wireless connections rather than the fibre connection of a desktop computer.

There are multiple factors and methods that a developer can and should consider when building a new site. These include:

  • Efficiency of code: Using the fewest lines of code to achieve the same end result. Fewer lines of code will take the web browser less time to read, making a webpage interactive sooner.
  • With 53% of mobile users saying they leave a website if it has not loaded in 3 seconds, you can see why this is essential.
  • Load Order: Load critical items first and leave your fancy animations, sliders and fonts till after. Concurrent loading will slow down the loading of critical elements.
  • Properly size and format images: Images are a huge resource to load into a webpage. If you are displaying an image at 500×500 pixels on your website, you don’t want to be loading in a 4K image. One way to avoid this is to resize the image manually, or what I do is when I am building a WordPress website I apply an appropriate thumbnail size.

So once you’ve got yourself a speedy website, will you see tangible results? The answer is very likely! Here are some examples of how other companies improved their website and with it their conversion rates.

  • Walmart discovered that improving page load time by one second increased conversions by 2%
  • Pinterest rebuilt its pages to be focused on performance, this resulted in a 40% decrease in wait time, a 15% increase in SEO traffic and a 15% conversion rate to signup

In conclusion, web performance is extremely important for user experience but also for other website metrics that are often aligned with the goals of most companies.

Whether a site has good or bad website performance it will impact the user and the company hard as well as the effectiveness of the site in meeting its objectives.

website code on a screen

Andres Marconato, Software Engineer at Microsoft

Andres Marconato’s LinkedIn profile

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

My personal thought is SEO- both content and technical.

Somewhere along the line, SEO always ends up being one of the most important things of any website project. This could be 3 months after launch, or it could be 5 minutes into the initial discovery phase- but every website is going to need it eventually.

Traffic is categorically the most important thing to 99.99% of all website projects, and unfortunately it isn’t something that is considered much, or it is always left too late. Without SEO, whatever you are trying to accomplish on your website will fail, as you’ll have no traffic.

By considering SEO as its own discrete deliverable from the get go, rather than considering it a composite of many different factors you can design around, you are ensuring that all of the effort you put into the user journey, the design, the meta tags and whatever else you would traditionally devote time to during a website build isn’t wasted effort.

For me, hiring an SEO expert at the beginning of a web project is one of the most important contributing factors to a successful build. Having that input from someone dedicated to delivering organic traffic to the site from the get-go adds a lot to the project.

What is the most important aspect to consider when commissioning a new website?

So there you have it! Not quite a consensus, but SEO ranking factors, usability of site, and site speed seem to come out top.

If you’re considering building a new website, get in touch with Canny today and set Will and Jordan away on working on your brand new site!