Following these guidelines will go a long way to help ease the pain of your web development project.
Choosing the right person or agency to build your website can be a daunting prospect. It involves a large element of trust and requires significant research to ensure you get a site that will meet your expectations. However, there are some key areas that are essential to be considered.
These steps below, while not exhaustive, will provide a platform to help you select a good web designer.
Your site must be user-friendly
Check out web designers and agencies online. Examine their website portfolio and testimonials. Are their sites user-friendly and easy to navigate around? This is probably the most important component in the design of the website. Your visitors will come to your site to get information or buy something as easily and as quickly as possible, how good the site looks isn’t generally of major interest. How fast do their sites download? Users will expect your site to download quickly, if it doesn’t then they will, more than likely, hit the Back button.
Your site needs to be found
What services are on offer to help search engines such as Google find your site. This is known as “Search Engine Optimisation” or SEO. If your site can’t be found then your site will be effectively useless. Your site will need ongoing attention to stay ahead of the competition. You should familiarise yourself with this area as it can be a mine field and it’s important to get a handle on the basics which are very easy to understand. Also you should ask if any sort of built-in analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) will be provided with the site so you can track visitors and so on.
Quality of Customer Service
Make a shortlist of web designers and call them to discuss your needs. How quickly did they answer the phone – did they seem to know what they were talking about? Building websites is a very technical process. That’s fine, that’s the developer’s job, but your point of contact will be customer service if something goes wrong so they need to be competent enough to communicate with you in language you can understand. Ask for a face-to-face meeting. This is your business; you’re going to be paying a lot of money. If they can’t give you an hour of their time then maybe find someone who can.
Updating your site’s content
How is your content going to be updated? You should be able to do this yourself via an easy to use “Content Management System” which should come as standard with every website. Ask to see a working example; they should have a test or demo site. How easy is it for you to use? You shouldn’t need to pay a web designer for minor changes to the website content.
What after sales support is available? What happens if the site goes down? How quickly will it be attended to?
Mobile Friendly Website
Will the design be “responsive” or mobile friendly? “Responsive” means your site’s appearance will change to suit the device it is being viewed upon. Obviously, you will want your site to look its best no matter what device someone is using.
Ask for a full breakdown so you can see exactly what you’re paying for. If there are any grey areas ask for these to be explained further and, if necessary, explicitly described in the quote. For instance, how much does it cost to host your website? (sometimes this can appear as an “extra” later on). How long will it take to build? How much will it cost for images?