As business owners are sometimes surprised to learn, the costs and effort associated with developing online functionality like a web storefront or online property listing system are far more involved than creating a simple “brochure” website that only tells people about your business. It’s really a whole different ballgame. Unfortunately, unless you have some web programming background and are able to peek “under the hood” of a website, you might think that two sites that look and work the same on the outside are identical. So if two developers offer to develop the same functionality, shouldn’t you choose the one that can get it done faster and cheaper? Not necessarily.

When the first version of your website is complete, everything (hopefully) looks and works as desired and meets your business needs. But business needs are always changing, and the programming “under the hood” of your website becomes important when you need to update it to keep pace with your business. You may need to add a completely new type of product to your storefront, or a new feature like a shopping “wishlist” for your customers .

Good developers use several tools and techniques to keep website code well organized and easy to understand so these types of structural changes are easier to make. One popular and effective technique is to split up a website’s code into three independent areas: the visual presentation of text and graphics that appear on the screen; the website logic or “flow” that figures out which of those pages to load as a user navigates your site; and the data storage piece that stores and retrieves information like customer data or product details.

This is just one way to organize website code, but the advantage is that any of these areas can be changed without affecting the others. So if one day you decide you want to change the look and feel of your website, the developer doesn’t have to worry about the information flow or data storage. They can just change the look and feel. This is also makes updating your website safer because updates done to one area don’t affect the other areas. Sometimes quality coding costs a little more or takes more time up front, but the payoff comes when your business changes and your website needs to change with it.

As automobile manufacturers know, when developing a new car model, it’s important take some extra time in the planning stage so that parts like the chassis and engine can be put together in several different configurations depending on what’s required. Many of the same parts can be combined in different ways to make an SUV, a sedan, or even a sports coupe. Similarly, websites are made up of many pieces of code. If those pieces have been designed well, it’s much easier to reconfigure your website to keep up with your business as it changes.  By working with a developer who takes this extra time on version 1.0, you can make sure you won’t have to start all over when it’s time for version 2.0.