Taking on the task of developing a business website can be intimidating. For anyone that’s never experienced the process before, it’s difficult to conceptualize all of the research, decision making and just plain hard work that it takes to build an entire website from scratch. Fortunately, there are plenty of web developers, like Comit, who have the know-how and the experience to make the process much easier for those looking to create a new site.
That doesn’t mean, however, that business owners can simply submit a request to a web designer and walk away. In fact, failure to ask the right questions at the beginning can lead to a process that’s needlessly long and costly and produces results that don’t align with your expectations.
Ask the Right Questions
So, how do you know what to ask your developer?
Posing key questions helps you determine if you’ve found the right team for your project and informs you about the design process that lies ahead of you. To help, we’ve created a basic list of questions you should ask your web developer when designing a new site to help them really understand your priorities and objectives so they can meet your needs. While it’s not an exhaustive list by any means, it serves as a great starting point to expand upon based on your individual goals.
1. How long will it take and how much will it cost?
Two of the most common problems that tend to crop up between web developers and their clients are misunderstandings about timeframes and cost, so it’s always good to have a clear conversation about them. Discuss your budget goals and ask specifically about what is included in this cost, particularly maintenance and post-launch support. Timelines can be affected by several different variables and can get thrown off course quickly if both parties aren’t diligent about meeting deadlines throughout each phase of the project. If you have a deadline or schedule in mind, present it to your development team and ask if they can meet those needs.
2. How do you ensure a user-friendly experience across all devices?
Managing user experience has gotten a lot more complicated in recent years. Not only do people use a wide variety of browsers, like Google Chrome and Safari, but they also access the internet from several different devices. Even if your website looks great on a desktop computer, overall usability and conversions will suffer greatly if it’s hard to use on mobile devices. Make sure to ask your web developers about what they do to ensure device compatibility so your website is optimized for all.
3. What content management system do you recommend and do you offer demonstrations?
A content management system (CMS) allows users to readily release and update forward-facing content on their site without having to get too technical on the backend. WordPress and Joomla are two of the most well-known examples, but there are plenty of CMS options out there. Since this aspect of your site is the one your business will be engaging with the most, it’s critical to ask your developer what CMS they recommend for your needs and whether they offer training so your marketing department can make simple edits when needed.
4. How will you optimize my site for search engines?
One of the top ways websites really generate value for your company is by increasing public visibility and attracting your ideal customers. Strong search engine rankings help your business get noticed by people who are searching for answers to a certain problem but may not know about your specific products or services.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex practice that requires different strategies and expertise to optimize your site so it reaches the right people at the right time. Asking about search engine optimization will be one of the longer discussions you have with your development team, but that’s okay! Make sure you tell them about your business model, particularly your target audience, so they can incorporate SEO tactics that are appropriate.
5. Do you have experience relevant to our industry?
There are plenty of web designers out there, and they all try to put their best foot forward when working with a new client. To that end, most will provide a portfolio of sites they’ve designed in the past. While that can provide a decent idea of their capabilities, you should ask if they’ve worked with businesses in your industry or any related industry. If they have, they’ll have a decent idea of the style and content you’ll be interested in and the experience to hit the ground running.
6. What role will I play in the process?
Collaboration doesn’t stop once the work begins. In fact, web designers will need support from the business owner or manager throughout the design process to make sure they’re producing a site that’s consistent with the needs of the business. The nature of this support varies case by case, but it can range from periodic progress and design approval meetings to direct collaboration in producing site content. Knowing what is expected from you ahead of time will help you prepare and participate more efficiently to keep the process running smoothly.
7. Who is responsible for maintaining the website once it’s complete?
A business website is never truly finished, even after a successful live launch. There will always be maintenance and periodic updates needed, particularly when it comes to security and structural changes to maintain good search engine rankings. It’s important to determine who will be responsible for those tasks in advance, so you can make the appropriate arrangements. After all, you’ll want your new website to remain secure and relevant for years to come, and that won’t happen on its own. Most website development companies also offer secure cloud hosting, site editing, maintenance and monitoring services—which may or may not be included in your design package.
The Key to a Successful Partnership
These questions shouldn’t be the end of the conversation you have with a potential web designer, but rather the beginning of a dialogue that should continue throughout the process of building your new website. Keeping lines of communication open and information flowing in both directions helps to ensure that your project is completed on time, within budget and delivers results you’ll be thrilled about. Your designer will appreciate the clarity, and you’ll be helping them to do a great job, too!
If you are interested in building a new business website, contact us today. We can answer all of these questions and any others you may have. We’re sure you’ll be happy with the answers we have for you, and we’d be more than happy to be your partner throughout the process of turning your business website vision into a reality you’ll love!