If eyes are the window to the soul, your website is the portal to your brand. Oftentimes, the website is the very first interaction a person may have with your company. Studies show that users tend to stick around for about 59 seconds – so you better make a good impression in a short time.
How do you ensure you have a phenomenal website that showcases your differentiation while catering specifically to your target audience? It all begins with your web developer. But, with literally thousands of developers vying for your attention (and dollars), how do you know which one to pick? We’ve made it simple. Start with these questions:
1. How many websites have you built?
Like so many things, experience is everything. Think about the first time you tried swinging a golf club or driving a stick shift? Did it go perfectly? Probably not. When it comes to custom website design and development, you’ll want to ensure your developer has years of experience. After all, you want your new website to be a masterpiece, not a practice run.
2. What platform will the site be built on?
WordPress. Magento. Wix. Shopify. There are dozens of mainstream web platforms. A web platform is essentially the foundation of your website on which the rest of your site will be built. There are pros and cons to each, so you’ll want to not only ask which one yours will be built on but the reasoning behind it.
3. What research do you complete prior to starting the website design?
This question will really separate amateurs from pros. While many will just dive on in and begin building any site, the premier developers will ensure they are building the right site. This research should begin with establishing your unique market positioning and target market and grow from there to represent your brand. What are your goals? What’s most appealing to your target market? What’s your unique brand identity? All of these are essential in building a successful website.
4. What tactics will you use to ensure the site is SEO friendly?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to the steps taken to ensure your website appears on Google (and other search engines) when key terms are searched. Don’t be fooled by developers who insist this happens after the site is designed. The best and most efficient SEO is planned into the very foundation of your website. We frequently see entire websites being built out with zero SEO and then the development firm asks for big bucks to incorporate these features after the fact.
5. What’s your area of specialty?
No one is an expert at all things. And with good reason. If you try to be good at everything, you’ll never be more than mediocre at anything. Dig in with your potential web developer to determine their areas of expertise. Perhaps it is large, e-commerce stores. Or maybe they are experts at niche boutiques. Each web developer will have certain areas of expertise. Ensure your developer is a good match for your business.
6. How much involvement will I have?
Perhaps the second part of this question is also, how much involvement do I want to have? Do you want to be a part of the process, every step of the way? Or would you prefer to hand off your specifications and say “take it away”? The important part of this question is ensuring your wants are met. If you are expecting to provide approval and make changes along the way, make sure that is clearly agreed upon upfront.
7. Will the website be fully editable?
Again, this one comes down to your individual wants and needs. However, if you are expecting to be able to make changes to text, banners, images, and other features without knowing coding, you need to establish this upfront. When complete, what will you be able to edit and what will you need to pay someone to edit?
8. How long is your web development process?
Good web development takes time. It is not a process that should be rushed into. However, it’s important to understand the timeline. If you are expecting an amazing website designed and launched in two weeks, you should probably think again. However, different web development companies have significantly different timelines ranging from a month or two to a year. A lot of this will also depend on your specific requirements, but this is something you certainly want to be aware of before signing a check.
9. What is the end-to-end expected cost?
Despite what some may lead you to believe, websites certainly do not fall under the If you have to ask… philosophy. We certainly don’t advocate finding the cheapest, as that usually costs more in the end. Websites are an investment, but their development should not be an endless money pit. A good web developer will be able to outline your costs upfront and work with you to ensure it falls into your budget before beginning.
10. What examples do you have?
Previous achievement is the most common prediction of future achievement. Make sure you don’t just take a web developer for their word. Ask to see examples of their work. A good developer will be happy to supply you with this information.
Going through the process of a new website is an exciting, but often stressful process. Your website developer will be key to whether the building of your new website is a nightmare or a dream. It’s worth it to put the time upfront to ensure you have a quality website at the end.