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During last year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a curious case of translation error happened when the Norway Olympic Team tried to order 1,500 eggs for their athletes were instead received a delivery of 15,000 eggs. It seems that instead of things being lost in translation, they are added instead. Eventually, they managed to return the 13,500 excess eggs back to the grocer but I sure would like to see the face of the person in charge of receiving the delivery.

It’s been suggested that this was partly due to Korea’s numbering system and that a typo might’ve caused the confusion. When you’re in a foreign land and having to deal with different languages and letters, it shouldn’t be a surprise that communication could become an issue. Even people talking with the same language could have trouble communicating with each other, especially when one from a non-technical background comes face-to-face with someone that has an extensive background in web development as is common these days when every business has their own website.


Don’t get your wires crossed

One of my favorite scene in 2003 Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation is the one when Bob, played by Bill Murray, was shooting a commercial for Japanese brewing company Suntory. The commercial director was Japanese and doesn’t speak any English and communication between Bob and the director is handled through an interpreter. The director goes on a long-winded explanation about the way he wanted Bob to act but all the interpreter ended up telling Bob is to turn and look into the camera and later on, with intensity.

Coppola’s Lost in Translation is supposed to be about two lives that are in limbo and how their shared ennui leads Bob and Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte to found each other. But that particular scene takes a very literal meaning to the phrase that shows just how much nuance can be lost if neither party knows how to communicate what they’re looking for effectively. When someone with a limited technical background tries to have a conversation about a highly technical matter, as is the case with web development, a similar thing could conceivably happen.

Because of this knowledge gap, it’s still somewhat common for business owners to settle on the big picture even if when it comes to web development, a more technically detailed approach is actually required. The world of web development is relatively vast and unless you can communicate clearly what it is you’re looking for, getting your website to look and perform exactly how you want it to be can be tough. As a starting point, you’d want to discuss the four following topics when it comes to developing your own website.


Have a discussion on the CMS of your website

Once your website is up and running, the main thing you, the business and website owner, will be dealing with most of the time is the website’s content management system or the CMS. Even if your web is being developed in-house, you still want to at least have a basic understanding on how the CMS works because you and your content team is going to be in charge of publishing new contents and making small changes to your website every now and then.

An understanding of your website’s CMS is also important because if the non-technical department of your team is going to have access to the CMS, they have to know which part of the website they can’t mess around with so as not to break your website’s functionality. Some CMS like WordPress has the ability to confer different privileges based on the user role, with Administrator having full privileges. For the non-technical team, giving them Editor role is ideal since Editor’s privileges are limited to content editing so confirm with your developers what kind of platform are you using.


Decide on whether to use a pre-built theme or a custom theme

Pre-built themes are like ready to wear suits. They’re easy to find, relatively cheaper to use and you can use them straight away. In the long run however, pre-built themes can be a hassle as the features you could add is usually limited and if it’s something that is not supported, you’re going to have to find a workaround that might not work as well as it should’ve. Custom themes are like bespoke suits, they’re built from the ground up to accommodate what you need right now and for the foreseeable future but can be both expensive and longer to make.

There are objective reasons why you’d want to go with either option so long as you know the limitations of both. Get together with your web developer to see the pros and cons of each and figure out which is the best option for you, practically speaking. It should be noted that using a custom theme means you have to require your current developer to provide documentation on their work that they could pass on if they were to leave your company to ensure continuity.


Make sure your website is accommodating to mobile devices

We’re not always in front of a computer but it’s reasonable to expect that we’re within spitting distance of our phones for the majority of our day. To account for this, you have to make sure that your website looks just as good in a 6-inch phone screen as it would on a 24-inch monitor. Responsive design is what the consensus considers the best way to achieve this but you also want to consider adaptive design as an alternative. Ask your developers on what the term means in detail and together, figure out which approach works best for you.


Plan a development roadmap to make sure you’re always in the loop

Web development is a lengthy process and you have to make sure that the project stays on course until the project is finished. Don’t take the hands-off approach and instead plan a roadmap that enables you to check in on their progress during regular intervals to see how the project is shaping up. This way, you could spot any mistakes before they became permanent but always be mindful of your place in the process and not interfere too much with their work. To be critical is good but you don’t want your developers to get the impression that you think you could do their job better than them.