Does getting a website built feel like your opening the door to all types of disaster?
YOU'RE NOT SURE WHAT TO ASK FOR...
YOU'RE NOT SURE IF YOU'RE PAYING TOO MUCH, OR ENOUGH!
AND THE WEB DEVELOPER IS TALKING A LANGUAGE THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.
Well, it shouldn’t feel like that at all.
It should be a simple exercise where you get to show case and sell your business in the best possible light.
To make sure you have a great experience, and get the best possible website for your effort, there are three key things to pay attention to.
1. Have a clear list of requirements
Don’t speak, look or engage with anyone about your website until you actually know what you need on your website.
Without a clear idea of what you need on your website, you won’t have a shopping list that will allow a web developer to provide an accurate quote on your website.
It’s a big misconception that many people have about web developers and designers. It’s not in their job brief or even sometimes, their skill set, to spend time with you analysing and working out the best approach for your website. If you don’t tell them exactly what you want, then they will try and give you what they think you want or need - which will be based on every other business they've built a website for - not your business and it's unique needs and audience.
You know your business best, which means that time is needed to work out what your website needs.
One way to work this out is by listing out the goals of your website. Answer the question ‘why do you have a website’? Is it generate leads via a phone call? Is it to bring people into your shop? Is it to sell products online? Is it to capture email addresses so that you can upsell at a later point?
Being able to answer this question will then allow you to understand exactly what content and functionality you need to include on your website, to achieve this goal.
Another approach that people take is to write the copy of their website up front – or to employ a specialist to do this on their behalf. By writing the copy of your website, it helps identify what you want to tell people and what you’re call to actions will be eg. Call for a quote or download a special offer in exchange for an email address. The call to action often indicates functionality that is required, such as a form or an automated marketing tool.
If you’re not comfortable doing either of these things, then you can engage a digital strategist that will help you develop a set of business requirements to help you quote your website.
If you leave it up to your web developer/designer to determine what should be on the website, then you increase the chances of:
- Lower conversion rates
If no time is spent talking about your business, understanding your customers and the best way to put a website together to sell to your customer’s, then chances are you won’t get a website that will convert visitors to customers.
- Blow out in costs
The other problem with allowing your web developer or designer to dictate what they build for you is that, you may end up missing things from the website or requesting changes as it’s being built. This means that any initial quote will need to change, and then you end up spending far more than you expected because there was no accurate quoting done in the first instance.
2. Get quotes
Once you've got a list of requirements, get some quotes. However, don’t just get one quote from a developer. Getting a few will mean that you understand the market, will have learnt more about what’s available in the market place, and give you the confidence to make an informed decision. If there are different approaches/CMS’s proposed then this allows you to also understand whether there are specific requirements of your website that will better met by one system over another. For example one website developer may propose WordPress and another may suggest Joomla. Understanding why they have made these recommendations is important. Sometimes it will come down to what the web developer knows best versus a system that has been selected based on the needs of your business.
The quotes should provide a clear outline on expected payment terms. For example, many developers will ask for a 50% up front deposit and the remainder on delivery. Do not pay the entire amount up front. This leaves you with no bargaining power if you are not happy with what they have delivered.
3. Get the fundamentals right
When you’re asking for a quote from a web developer then make sure the following are included in what they will deliver:
- A mobile responsive and speedy site (as per Google speed test). The speed of your website is important. The number of people browsing the internet on mobile phones and other devices now outstrips desktop, which means that speed of a site to load is important to provide a good user experience. People are not patient and they will leave if your site takes too long to load. Google think that this is so important that they will penalise your website when it comes to ranking in search engine results if your website is not mobile ready.
- A SEO compliant and ready website. This means that you should be able to easily update your page titles, description, alt tags on images and that the site is easily found and indexed by the likes of Google. This also means you need a sitemap in place, which should be standard with your site, but it's always good to make sure this is on your list of things to ask for.
- Google analytics set up, including your goals so that you can optimise your website’s performance to improve it from day one. It doesn't take long to set up and it should be a standard activity that a web developer does, but often this is not the case.
- A set number of reviews, so that you are not constantly being charged for each round of changes that you make. Some developers will just keep going with changes till you are happy with the final product, however others will charge you. It's better to negotiate this point up front rather than getting a nasty surprise at the tail end with additional charges or a web developer who won't finish the job pending agreement for more charges.
- Design time. Looks count for a website. They are the first impression of your business online and therefore can’t be underestimated in how it will impact on what they think about your business. Therefore, it's important to understand whether the web developer also has design credibility or whether they will work with a designer to apply a design to your chosen website template. This should be spelled out up front. Just because a web developer has a portfolio of websites that look good, doesn't mean they've done the design work. If their portfolio looks good because they've had a professional designer involved, and they are not including this in your pricing, you may not get the look and feel that you are after. Particularly if they aren’t the ones doing the design. Likewise, if you are not strong on design yourself, then ensuring that there is a professional design involved can make or break the success of your website.
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