Venturing into your first website can be quite a frustrating proposition, especially without proper due diligence for the project and the selection of a web development company. Of course, this can have quite long-lasting ramifications.
In my career as a web developer, I have come across (and heard about) the good, the bad, and the ugly in the industry. I can tell you for certain that the value of an experienced consultant can’t be understated. When you look up “web design services” on Google will only get you so far.
In this post are five of the most critical factors to consider when choosing the right custom web design and development company.
Determine what kind of Website you need
While this might sound kind of obvious, not all websites are the same. For instance, Google is a website. But it’s powered by a number of data centers with a multi-billion-dollar infrastructure all around the world. Amazon and Facebook? Ditto.
These are extreme examples, by you get the point. It’s important to differentiate between what makes a good website, the intended functionalities, etc. In other words, you need to know what the website will do for your visitors and your business.
Do you want to sell widgets through your website? Well, you’ll need to have an e-commerce website, and it’s unlikely that your friend’s cousin is going to cut it for this project. Ecommerce comes with key technological and logistical challenges. For this reason, the company you hire needs to have ample experience working in this space, and be able to provide ecommerce solutions that can scale with the growth of your business. Of course, they also need to provide you with relentless support for the inevitable glitches that can occur.
For many small business providing professional services, the main role of the website is to build trust, inform, educate, and convert visitors into loyal customers. Although there are hundreds of web development companies that can handle this task, there are a few variables you need to consider, such as the kind of content management system, and the web hosting service. These can have a major impact on the daily management of your site and when the site is redesigned (or edited) down the road.
Determine your Compatibility
While hiring a web development company, keep in mind that you’re ideally hiring a technology partner. This partner will most likely be a part of your business for a few years, especially if you’re happy with their service. that’s the rub.
Taking your time on the front side can really save you a lot of money and time, considering how the process of migrating a website from one provider to another can be costly and time-consuming. Make sure that you know exactly who you are hiring for this long-term endeavor. While the efficacy and overall quality of their work is a key consideration, you also need to find out what they value, how they treat their staff, and how they work.
Even though important traits such as trust and credibility are crucial, it’s important that you like them as a company.
Establish the Level of Support You’ll Need
Support comes in a lot of different forms; such as help with setting up business emails or helping someone reset their password. For websites, you’ll most likely need support when you need to make changes to your site. It’s not uncommon to uncover an element or a feature that was not considered or left out before launch. Keep in mind that, your website ideally won’t be, and shouldn’t be static.
A good web development agency will offer you all the tools and resources needed to add new pages, add updated content, add articles, and make minor changes or improvements. For new features, you’ll more than likely need to have a technology partner on your side. Many web development companies do offer some level of on-going support, but it’s always wise to find out at what level, which members of the staff will be doing the tasks, and the turnaround time.
Attention to Details
Someone in my network recently announced the launch of their new website. I could tell from their posts that they were really proud and excited about their new online presence. Of course, there was a link to their new site on their post. However, it displayed nothing but the logo and a title “Home” on their homepage.
Such an epic fail!
This is an opportunity to shine on your social media. But since the web developer either didn’t understand how social media channels work or didn’t take their time, the opportunity is now gone. More importantly, the lack of a proper description and title is probably going to ruin their search rankings.
Tiny details like these can make or break your brand’s digital properties over time. With a good website development company, you can be sure that they have the experience and understand the importance of search engines and social media platforms displaying correct information from websites. As such, they will work with you to ensure that all of the necessary bases are covered, so that your website is always putting your best face and interests forward.
Account for all of the Costs
Web design and development costs range anywhere from free to hourly, to fixed. Some companies also have tiered pricing based on the features you get and the person who’ll be doing the work. Beyond the initial development and design costs, there are some ongoing fees or charges that should be understood prior to signing the contract. These include:
Hosting: almost every web development company will charge you something for hosting a website. However, this can vary widely. It can be tempting to get chintzy in this area, but it’s not a good idea. Why? Well, you’ll get what you pay for here, and that includes your site’s uptime – you obviously want your site to be available all of the time, consistently. So, don’t skimp on the costs here.
Ongoing support: this is another area where the pricing is all over the board. Some companies do include a certain level of support with their hosting plans, while others charge in terms of resources and time for any changes. Don’t forget that you will inevitable have to make some changes to your site at some point, and this is likely to come at a cost. It’s important to understand and plan for these costs.
When it comes to choosing a web development team, there’s no silver bullet or definitive guide for the approach, since every company operates under different business models. However, with some due diligence and the right guidance, you can lessen some costs of developing and rebuilding your website.