The thought of hiring someone to build a website for your business can be daunting. It’s a big commitment, financially and emotionally. You want the best for your business, so you research “free” website builders, professional web programmers, DIY themes and layouts, and countless designers.
It turns out, there are a lot of options for business owners and their websites. But after spending so much time researching, you (wisely) decide that a professional developer is the way to go. But how do you know if you’re going to get the results you want with your potential designers?
A Realistic Situation:
a. On one end, your potential developer has just promised you a beautiful multi-page website at a much lower price than another competitor. You’ll get everything you want at a much lower price—how easy of a decision is that?
b. On the other end, another developer has just dropped a quote that requires you to ask them to repeat the number… and suddenly you wish you had something stronger than water in front of you. Talk about selling your soul.
Then, the details come out: “Developer A” is cheaper, but in their price is simply time for design and copywriting.
Hosting? Insert “X” amount here.
Support? Another hourly fee for every picture, photo, graphic, or page you want to update. Search Engine Optimization? That’s a whole other quotable section of your website. Maintenance? Oh, we don’t do that. Also, did we mention that the amount of pizza our team consumes during development is also billable?
Suddenly, the “scream of a deal” is turning into a real nightmare—not only is the price comparable now to the other developer’s quote, it also requires even more over time for every single change you want to implement.
“Developer B”, who initially made you want to seriously “wine” about it, carefully explains that with the initial price comes hosting and programming fees, support that will hang around (even after the project is complete), professional SEO implemented during the development process, and an entire library of training videos/documentation that allows you to make your own changes in the future—without having to pay for them. (Oh, and their team pays for their own pizza.)
The initial “sticker price” doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know.
Here are 5 questions to ask your developer (aside from how much it’ll cost you):
1. What do you do to make my site visible on search engines?
No matter how great your website may be, how much use is it to you if your customers can’t even find it? You need to know if your web developer implements the best practices for search engine optimization (SEO).
Do they design with visual content in mind? Can they enhance your page content to make the most visible to your site viewers? How your website is coded and designed has a huge impact on how easily your website is found—make sure your developer is familiar with how to meet today’s SEO standards.
2. What happens when I need to make changes to my site?
Will your developer require that you come to them with page updates and revisions? If so, will they charge you per hour, or can you provide them with a lump sum to be used towards maintenance?
Or, will they provide you with the means to manage site content yourself? Training videos or documentation can save you time (and money) in the end, by being able to make small changes yourself right away. It’s important to know just how much you’ll be dependent on them as your site moves forward.
3. Who is in charge of creating the site content and images?
Some website developers will include a certain amount of content management in their initial pricing, or offer it as an “add on” when quoting your site. The same goes for stock images or other graphics: your quote may include a set amount of stock images, with the option to purchase more if need be.
Consult your potential website developer to see what they offer in terms of writing content, or what they can do with existing content you may already have.
At the beginning of your relationship with your developer, be sure to clarify any and all obligations they have to you, but also what kinds of responsibilities you have on your end—sometimes hold ups can occur as a result of a lack of information on the client’s end. Clear communication from both sides will ensure your site is created the way you want it to be, and completed when you want.
4. What ongoing fees do you have? What else will be required, financially speaking?
As mentioned above, break down the initial “sticker price” of the quoted site to determine what other ongoing costs may be lurking underneath the initial design time. Are hosting and domain fees included, and if so, what do they cost and for how long are they covered? What about maintenance fees, in the event I can’t make changes myself?
5. What happens if/when our relationship ends?
What will become of your website and support if your relationship with your developer were to ever change or even end? If necessary, will you retain all of the material for your website to use on a new platform or hosting service? What will happen when issues arise past the time your developer has said they offer support?
Remember to look past the initial number your potential web developer gives you. There’s so much more that should go into your website than the time it takes for them to design the content and make your site live. A website is an investment in your business, and you want to provide potential consumers with the very best first impression. Take the time to research potential developers to make sure they can offer you the kind of work—and kind of relationship—you want for your business’ online presence.