A mediocre website is just not good enough. Your website should drive growth with strong visuals, a convincing message, and clear calls-to-action. An exceptional website draws in visitors, amplifies brand awareness and creates a clear picture of a companys' products, services and points of difference. So, how do you get started?
You need a partner. Developing a new website can be a daunting task, particularly if you aren’t tech savvy. A web project is serious business with a number of moving parts and several important stages. You might not want to go it alone. Understanding the basics will help you determine the best partner for your new website.
Web Consultant or Company?
These days there are dozens of do-it-yourself options, and everyone seems to know a web ‘freelancer' (who usually works in a basement). Should you really trust your company’s website (your online image) to a lone part-timer who only works after hours?
Think of your web project as an investment in your company. To get it done right you need to hire a professional web design and development company. They have resources in all facets of the project lifecycle – designers, developers, project managers, search engine optimization (SEO) pros and inbound marketing strategists.
You’ll have access to an entire team of seasoned experts who will scope out, design, develop and deliver the goods. A top-notch website development company will also guide you through the entire process and make certain your project is completed on-spec, on-time and on budget.
But how do you evaluate website development vendors?
Here are 5 Questions to Ask when Evaluating Web Vendors
1. What About Hosting?
Much like a physical address, a web host is where your website resides. All websites are housed on servers – essentially these are really big and super fast computers. Hosting companies own a lot of them, which are all located on server farms (big buildings with lots of servers/computers in them). When evaluating website development vendors you also need to consider their hosting provider. Any reputable company can detail the specifics of their hosting environment, including their physical protections and online security protocols. They should also have a plan to meet your requirements and budget. Of course, like all things you get what you pay for – if you choose to shop around the cheapest deal is not likely to be the best. Do your homework first.
2. What About Mobile?
More people than ever are using their mobile devices to access the web – when designing and developing a new website mobile audiences are an essential consideration. Ask for Responsive design; this development standard allows your new site to scale proportionately, no matter what the device and provides an optimum user experience. If people can’t access your site or use it properly on their phones you’re losing valuable traffic and potential customers, When evaluating website development vendors make certain they utilize Responsive techniques. It’s an industry standard for any decent webshop.
3. What About Search?
You want your new website to be easily found on search engines like Google, but there isn’t any magic bullet to make this happen. Great search results depend on a number of factors: rich and relevant content, photo alt-tags, inbound links, intra-site linking and an on-going strategy. Your new site also needs to be designed and developed correctly, since these are important factors in determining search results. Creating a new site without some sort of SEO plan is like opening a swanky new restaurant in the middle of nowhere (without road signs or directions). When evaluating website development vendors make sure to ask about their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) principles, philosophies, and strategies, and what’s included in your project.
4. What About Maintenance & Support?
Just like your business, technology moves fast. Your new website will need to be upgraded over time, but is it scalable? Can you manage the site yourself and add new features and functions? If not, what on-going support options does your vendor offer? Will you receive an invoice for every phone call, or do they provide on-going maintenance and service plans? This is a critical distinction, since there may be a problem with your website at some point.
Therefore, when evaluating website development vendors, you need to think about the future before you even begin a project. Ask what happens after your new site goes live. Do they provide post launch assistance, or will you have to find help elsewhere? Remember, you’re looking for a relationship, not a transaction.
5. How do I Get Started?
At the outset decide how involved you’ll be in the site’s design and development, particularly if you want to be hands-on. Any website project is a partnership. When evaluating website development vendors make certain they clearly explain your role and responsibilities.
Your web shop will do all the heavy lifting, but without necessary components – access to your domain registrar account, your logo in the proper file format, timely reviews and approvals after each completed milestone, etc. – the project will stall and languish.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be better prepared to choose a web development vendor. More importantly, you’ll have a partner for your web project and beyond.
Need a new professionally designed and developed Responsive website or a complete website redesign? Contact us for a free 30-minute evaluation and consultation.