Incremental progress is the right way to build a website

Watch my video about the incremental approach—the cheapest, smartest, and easiest way to build a website (and a business!)

One thing that’s always annoyed me about contract web design and development is this idea that you can actually pay for a finished product to be delivered within a particular time frame.

Nothing actually works this way. Fact is, there is no “I built this thing and now it’s done” scenario with a website (and especially a business site).

Real progress is incremental. For any significant project, there is no quantum leap from zero to done.

Failure to understand this is the number one source of frustration and angst for people trying to build business websites.

Here’s the deal:

Unlike other big projects such as houses, which are pretty much immutable once constructed, websites are dynamic, adaptable things. Hell, that’s what makes them so appealing and useful!

But people simply aren’t accustomed to thinking in these terms. We tend to think in terms of “done” or “not done,” as opposed to a specific point on some evolutionary arc.

This evolutionary quality is precisely why people struggle to work with developers and designers. Especially with business websites, there’s no point where you can really say, “Ok, we’re done here.”

The implications are huge. The natural evolution of websites means:

  • Everything must be viewed through a long term lens because adjustments will be necessary over time.
  • Therefore, it makes no sense to hire someone for a set fee to build a website. You’ll expect a finished product, and there’s no such thing!
  • Stop trying to “finish” your site. There is no “finished” state—you’re either in a state of continuous adaptation or apathetic abandonment.

Bottom line: When building a business website, you can only do what you can do right now.

Because of this, it’s vitally important to understand the process and only commit to what you can achieve with the resources you have right now.

I’ll leave you with a quote from my video on the incremental approach:

You can’t cheat the process. You can’t go from zero to hero unless you’ve got massive resources. You can’t do it. And even if you do it then, I’d say it’s stupid to do it…

The knowledge, and the experience, and the context, and all the information that comes along with taking an incremental process to your goal is critical to actually achieving that goal in the end.