At Ag Conexus, I have met many business owners who are prospecting website development firms to design and build their new website. These business owners can easily become overwhelmed by the many variables involved. Often in the bidding process, the business owner will get prices ranging from $250 to several tens of thousands of dollars!!! Understanding the value of each proposition is difficult when there is lots of jargon thrown into proposals, and really, this is not the business owners area of expertise! The following are what I consider to be 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Website Developer so that you can make some apples to apples comparisons between proposals, and understand better what you are purchasing/investing in!
Who owns the website upon completion?
This is a VERY important question. Typically companies that come in on the low price point will charge a nominal fee per month for infinity! However, if you miss a payment, you will be switched off and you do not own the website. So the key here is to establish that the contract assigns full title and ownership in the website to you. In addition, its important the same is done for your domain name so that you don’t lose that at any point due to an ownership issue. Make sure they verbally confirm that you own the site, and ensure that its in the contract! (also make sure there is a contract!)
Will you be using responsive website design?
This is a good question to ask your developer to determine if they are staying current with the latest technology in website design. Its worth reading my article What is Responsive Website Design? Then you will know what it is and judge their knowledge of the area in their answer. In short, its search engine friendly design technology that enables your website to respond to the device that is viewing your website. With more and more smartphone and tablets being used, its very important that your website provides a friendly environment for those devices to browse and use your site. We highly recommend that you build your new site as a responsive website design!
When will you be producing a keyword report?
Another very good question for those of you who want your website to work for you when it is online. On-site search engine optimization is very important, and in some non-competitive situations, be enough for you to rank for certain keywords. A great time to integrate your on-site technical SEO is in the build of your website. Specifically since the website architecture will not have been set yet, and you can build the site structure around specific priority keywords. To do this effectively, a robust keyword report should be produced before the site architecture is set in place. This will identify all the great opportunities, and must-rank-for terms that will make your website a rainmaker. If your web developer does not produce a keyword report, or does this after the fact, then it will not be effective for your goals.
Are you using a custom content management system?
This is a very important question. In fact, are you using any proprietary software at all is a follow up question! Why ask this? Well, recently I met with a new Philadelphia SEO client to report to them that because their site was developed in a custom content management system, that they are in risk of quickly becoming obsolete AND they are dependent on that firm to update and make changes to the site. This is a major issue, as in most cases, there are no reasons to justify a custom content management system. We highly recommend using WordPress as your content management system. The main reason for this is that its an open source software with several thousand plugins and a large developers community that constantly provide performance and security updates to the software. Also as of today, there have been 442,307,138 plugin downloads and 64,132,527 WordPress sites active, which means that most of the kinks with the system will have been worked out already. The problem with going with the custom software of a web design firm is that they may still be working on ironing out kinks, which could cost you downtime and other issues. However, the main issue, is that you are typically locked in with them for updates and maintenance. Avoid custom content management systems and software unless they are key to your business. Go with WordPress where possible.
What case studies do you have that show your value?
This is probably the most important question you can ask. Here is where you are asking for their previously developed websites. You should be able to see what problems existed before work commenced, how they approached the issues with a plan, the timeline for completing the work, and the results of the work several months later, and whether they will give you access to that client to share the experience with you. This will best educate you about the process of how the firm works, plus you get to see the design styles, functionality ability, and the return on investment and value that the prospective firms brings to the table.
There are many other questions you could ask, and this is by no means to be an exhaustive list! The above 5 are questions I believe will give great insight into the abilities of your prospective website developer.
If you find you ask other questions that are helpful, please do share them below.
One more quick note, if you are in Venice, Florida and in need of a computer repair, be sure to check out Digital RX Computer Repair, Inc.