Congratulations! You want a website.
A solid online presence is hands down the best way to take your business global. Now the challenge is finding an honest, trustworthy web development and web design company that can get the job done on time and within budget.
Hopefully, you’re reading this blog before you have committed to a web company. If you haven’t signed a contract yet, ask the potential web designer these questions:
1. How long will it take before my website generates leads?
Did you notice the use of “leads” and not “traffic”? The common search engine optimization (SEO) myth is that being on page 1 of Google is all that matters. What really matters is how many people are filling out forms on the website, how often they’re filling out forms and how many times people have clicked on the phone number. When it comes to web traffic, the industry standard can take 6 months to a year to generate decent traffic, if you don’t have digital marketing built in.
2. Do you have a portfolio and references?
A reputable web designer should be able to show you examples of their work and walk you through the problems, solutions and results for each project. Examine these websites carefully and determine whether or not the web designer is capable of creating the look and feel you have in mind. Call past clients and ask them what the web design process was like — such as how long it took before web launch, how responsive the web company has been and how their website is working now.
3. What is your content strategy for attracting and engaging leads?
There is more to website content than a keyword rich “Services” page. Quality content is the life blood of a website because it attracts organic traffic from search engines.
If you need help with content in addition to the website design and development, ask the web designer if content is included in the price. If it’s not, then how much more will content cost on top of the design?
If the website designer is providing writing services, ensure that they can offer quality content and they know how to implement best practices for SEO and digital marketing.
If content isn’t part of what the website design company offers or if you are providing the content, the web designer should offer suggestions on how to capitalize on the content you are bringing to the table.
4. How is the website built? Will I be able to make small changes to copy instead of bothering you?
Content management systems such as WordPress are ubiquitous because they are designed with search engines in mind from the get go. They are automatically formatted for optimal digestibility by Google.
They also are easy to use. Even the technologically challenged can make small changes to a web page or post a blog with a quick training session by the web designer.
With so many DIY digital marketing tools are your disposal, it’s inconceivable that a web design company would not build a website that you’d be capable of using on your own. If they don’t make editing your website easy for you, go to a different company.
5. Do you know how to promote my website with Google AdWords or Facebook ads?
New websites often need an extra boost to get their website noticed. Inbound marketing methods including content generation, social media marketing and email marketing should be the foundation for your digital marketing. However, targeted pay per click advertising is a great way to bring keyword specific searches to your new website. A good web designer and web developer will already be Google certified or in the process of being Google certified to set-up and manage a successful campaign that draws attention to your site.
6. Do I own my website?
Your web designer should make it easy for you to gain access to your website after development is complete. Reputable web development firms will provide you with login and password information to the domain registrar and hosting.
Before you even begin the search for a website design company, register the domain names you want. If the web developer wants to transfer the domain name to their control (and the DNS records along with it), that is a huge red flag.
There are some web development companies that will try to hold your website hostage even after you’ve paid for the website in full by not relinquishing control. Their goal is to charge every time you contact them, even for the smallest text change.
If a website design company offers a monthly payment plan for your website, ask if you can have the login information for the website if you’re still making payments.
7. Do you work well with others?
Many business owners in search of a web designer and web developer already have key people in place for other aspects of their digital marketing such as social media, email and blogging. Ask the potential web designer if they would be willing to train some of these digital marketing professionals on how to use the website.
If the web designer hesitates or talks begrudgingly (or maliciously) about your team or other marketing professionals, that speaks more about their insecurity and lack of confidence in their own work. So, why should you have confidence they will get your work done well and on time?
8. What is your process?
It’s crucial to understand how your website designer or developer works at every stage — from sitemap creation to design mockups and from testing to launch.
From the moment you have the proposal, you should understand how the web design company’s process works, how long it typically takes for a website to launch and why they work this particular way.
9. Who is my project manager?
You need a key point person from the web design company to communicate updates regarding your new website. A project manager will take your feedback regarding mock-ups and work with the web designer to ensure completion. The project manager also will explain the complexities of your website’s functionality in a way that makes sense to you. This is the person who will make sure your website is completed to your satisfaction.
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10. When will my website be ready?
This is always a difficult question for web developers to answer, because every website is different! A typical timeframe for a basic website without the frills of high-end functionality is between 4 to 6 weeks. A web design company that promises completion in less time are likely recycling templates that you’ve already seen. A good web design company will have scheduled milestones for every step in the development process.
11. What is included in the contract?
If your web developer does not have a contract that clearly lays out deliverables, expectations, timeframes and prices, that’s a deal breaker. Websites are one of the largest marketing investments you’ll make. A contract will help you protect that investment. Make sure the web contract includes:
- a timeframe for the expected launch of the website
- the costs for development, as well as monthly hosting and maintenance
- hidden costs for making small and significant changes
- what maintenance entails
- if training is included
- security and data protection regulations compliance
- detailed list of functionality expected
A contract is a way for both parties to know exactly what expectations are required and aims to eliminate troublesome gray areas.
12. Will you provide website maintenance?
As much as WordPress is easy to use, it also requires constant attention. The system’s software and accompanying plugins often require updates that are crucial to the security of the website. Once your website is launched, who is in charge of updating your website? Will the web designer offer website maintenance? If so, how long will they maintain the website after launch? Will they take the time for one-on-one website training to show you how to perform crucial updates? And will they be available if your website breaks?
13. How will my website be hosted?
Good webite hosting is important for a multitude of reasons — from cyber security to page-loading speed. If your website designer is hosting your website, it should come with these basic hosting features:
- regular security scans
- SSL certificates
- 24/7 uptime and support
- optimal disc space and bandwidth
- regular back-ups
We have used a variety of web hosts over the years — from Bluehost to GoDaddy and from Hostgator to Network Solutions. Don’t fall for the cheap website offerings. You’ll end up with a website that times out every time you try to login or requires an add-on fee for any little thing.
Our go-to WordPress host is WPEngine. In addition to 24/7 online chat with helpful customer service reps, they also offer:
- daily back-ups of your website
- an-easy-to-use staging area to copy your site and make changes while your current site is live
- fast and scalable solutions
- free SSL certificates
- top-notch website security
14. Am I guaranteed results?
This is a trick question. If the web designer in Bluffton SC tells you anything but “no,” move on to a different company. In fact, the web developer who tells you “no” is probably going to be the company to get you the coveted return on investment and more.
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