What makes a good web partner?
If you have no friends or colleagues to ask for recommendations, and have to resort to searching the web, how do you choose, how do you whittle what you find down to say 3 companies?
Here are some pointers that can help you make those decisions:
1. Are they local?
This is important for a number of reasons, do you think you will need any training, if you are keen to manage your own content, or you are looking to buy an e-commerce store, then training will certainly be on the list. A local supplier may also be important if you feel strongly about supporting a local business, and of course it will always be a good idea to visit them in person.
2. What are their skill sets?
This is an interesting one as the most obvious question could be, what skills do you need to build a website? In my mind their are two important ones, the first is technical expertise, and sure it’s going to be a little difficult for you to interview them on that level, but you can get a good feel by looking at their portfolio and see the range of different types of sites they have on offer. The other one might not be so obvious, but what commercial awareness do they have, after all, they are being asked to build you a commercial website that is supposed to represent you in a professional manner and effect sales in a positive way, which leads me on to the next question…
3. What do they ask you?
And I don’t mean how many pages you need, would you like a form, have you heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) I mean do they ask about your business, learn how it works, do they try to understand where you are now and where you want to be in the future. If you are only asked a couple of technical questions, be cautious.
4. Do they complete any research on your business type and local competition?
We spend about 2-3 hours researching customer’s competition before we start any work. Once we were asked to build a website for an air-conditioning company, our research showed almost 95% of all their competitors had themes running with the colour blue, snow, ice, and polar bears! So we went for green, and lifestyle images showing comfort.
5. How will the website be built
It’s important for the future, how it is built will determine if it is updateable or not. What language it’s designed in can effect future development costs – html and php is cheaper than say dot net. Off the shelf content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Opencart can be very cost effective.
6. What help can they provide in terms of getting you found?
There are four main areas here, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Google Pay per Click, Social Media and traditional marketing including paper advertising and print.
7. Will I own the website once I have paid for it?
This might seem a silly question, but if you use a web developer who uses their own content management system, they may not be happy about you moving to a new provider with it, and understandably so, so it is always worth asking the question.
8. How do they charge?
Is there a deposit required, do you need to pay the balance before the site goes live? Are there any monthly or annual charges for maintenance, leasing of software? What are their hosting fees, and do they allow for monthly payments?
9. Will the website be Responsive?
Most websites can be moved on different types of devices such as personal computers, Laptops, phones and tablets. So what does it mean to be “mobile ready” or “responsive” – it basically means that such a site will adapt its layout and navigation to make it easier for users to navigate around your website.