(By Mark Cenicola)
“Learn about everything offered so you can determine if it’s more of an all-in-one web development company or just a graphic design firm. Some companies will include logo design, social media services, SEO services, hosting, domain names, etc. Make a list of everything you are looking for from the designer so you can ask how much is provided.“
Business owners tend to be a busy lot. From networking to financing to operations, the typical owner has their hand in just about everything, which is very common when running a company. Yet, research shows that only about half of small businesses have a website. For some reason, building a website is not at the top of their lists.
This lack of immediacy regarding an online presence is puzzling, given today’s consumer shopping habits. The growth of mCommerce and digital currencies has pushed online purchasing to new levels. Business owners should recognize this and prioritize building a website.
Though discussing website technologies can be a daunting task for the technophobe, you don’t have to be a coding genius. As with any project, preparation is key, as well as knowing the right questions to ask. The following nine questions are geared towards helping the busy business owner get the information he/she needs:
- How long will the project take? Make sure you are aware of how long the creative process takes. Understand the steps, from initial stages until the website launch. Ask about what approvals or other things you will need to do throughout the site’s construction so you don’t slow the process down.
- What other services are provided? Learn about everything offered so you can determine if it’s more of an all-in-one web development company or just a graphic design firm. Some companies will include logo design, social media services, SEO services, hosting, domain names, etc. Make a list of everything you are looking for from the designer so you can ask how much is provided.
- How much will it cost? This is of course largely determined by the work and detail required for the website. Things like number of pages, amount of graphic design work, special features required (newsletter services, contact forms, e-commerce, etc.) will escalate the price. Typical small business websites without a lot of bells and whistles range from $1,000 to $2,500, but the price can go up or down significantly depending on the experience of the designer and what features you need. Shop around to get a few quotes and compare features before committing.
- What do I need to do? Understand your role in the development process. For instance, you may need to provide images and videos in order to prevent them from adding images that do not accurately reflect your product/service. They will need your logo too. Prepare as much material as you can before getting started.
- Will training be offered/included? This question is very important. With a lot of website companies creating more DIY management sites, it is essential you understand how your website and the web content manager works and is updated. Inquire about training. Is it offered or are there video tutorials?
- What happens if the site breaks, is hacked, or malfunctions? Make sure to check about the procedure for running into problems. Websites are 24/7 business methods. A problem could cost your company big time. Does the website designer stick with your website after launch, or is it up to you to secure an IT professional for future mishaps?
- Is any business or industry research done before designing? Most designers are not experts in your field of business. Having a list of competitor websites and doing your own research about those competitors and similar businesses can help you articulate ideas for the new website. It can be helpful to pick a designer who’s had experience designing for the same or similar industries.
- Is it mobile compatible or responsive? This is huge these days! Make sure your website is accessible via mobile devices. Don’t lose out on a large amount of potential sales because your designer isn’t keeping up with the trends that can affect your search engine rankings. (Bonus: Here are three such search marketing trends we wrote about recently that you can ask your designer about.)
- Who owns the site/domain name/hosting? Sometimes designers will register the domain name and hosting with their company’s name instead of your personal name. Figure out how this process works if domain and hosting is included in your plan. It could potentially be an issue if you want to switch companies, change account owners, or the current designer closes their business later on. Try to always register it under your personal name or business.
With these nine questions, any business owner can easily begin the interview process for a web developer. A web development company with history should be able to answer these questions, as well as anticipate any unanswered questions. With a solid understanding of the needs of both business owner and web developer, the partnership will produce a successful, yet affordable website.
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS.
Source: Forbes, YEC