Are you searching for someone to create your business’ website? Before you make your choice, let’s count down 5 questions to ask your website expert before you hire them.
5. Do You Integrate a CMS?
Ask your developer if he or she will integrate a CMS (content management system) such WordPress in your site build. For any website administrator, particularly a non-technical one, a CMS can be crucial to navigating the technology needed to maintain the site on a regular basis. A CMS increases the usability and autonomy of a website for administrators, with easy-to-use functionality and out-of-the-box features. This means that you won’t have to continuously ask your developers for every little thing like adding content or making simple changes.
While we typically use WordPress at 11 Online, other common website CMSs include Drupal, Shopify, Joomla, SilverStripe, Expression Engine or Alfresco. All of them have pros and cons, so be sure to educate yourself on which CMS will be the best fit for your website needs.
4. Do You Add a Baseline of SEO Work to the Website?
Ask your developer if he or she will be integrating basic SEO onto your website. No website comes with on-site SEO right out the gate, but it’s not too difficult to use best practices and create a solid SEO foundation. The easiest way to add a baseline of SEO is to simply use a plugin – WordPress integrates with a variety of SEO plugins, but one of the most common is Yoast. Yoast allows you to create and update Sitemaps. It’s like an SEO express without all the bells and whistles.
3. How Much Content Do You Need From Me?
This is an important question to ask a developer because every site needs great content. In fact, content often drives design, so your developer can’t do his or her job properly without it. Typically, this question should be answered in a discovery session, and for the most part, “content” means photos and text needed for the website.
Our experience has shown that the bare minimum of web content required for a brochure website includes an above the fold image for the homepage as well as a tagline or value statement. For internal pages, you need a header image for each page, text for an About Page, and appropriate text and images for any remaining pages.
2. Do You Outsource Overseas?
When work is outsourced, the quality is often inferior due to communication problems. This can be brought on by language or time zone differences, and can lead to misunderstandings in the scope of work. It might be more affordable, and you might get lucky with a good final product, but usually it isn’t the case. Ensure that your developer or dev team has a strong communication process if they are outsourcing work.
1. How Often Do You Go Over Estimates?
A developer’s history of budget control is telling. Whether it’s a company or freelancer, you should know if they go over estimates, how frequently, and why.
Why they go over estimates is a big deal. Sometimes it’s inevitable – due to scope creep, revised deadlines, or any other variety of factors. If you feel that the reasons your developer has gone over budget in the past are legitimate, they may not need to be cause for concern, but use your judgment and trust your gut.
A quick note on budget – If your developer has a habit of underestimating, this may be something to investigate. It’s a red flag because the developer may be underestimating purposefully.
Once they have a client under contract, and go over budget, there’s not much the client can do. Alternatively, they may not have a good sense of how much time things actually take and are taking a shot in the dark when giving estimates – no good either. You need a development team that pays attention to details, including time.
(Bonus) How am I going to get a return on my investment?
You have your final product! … Now what? Will you be managing the website? Will you be marketing a product yourself or will you need someone else to do it?
The answers to these questions depend on your business’ needs as well as the time resources available. If you’re a solopreneur, it probably makes sense that you’ll be the one doing content changes and site updates. But if you’re part of a larger company, maybe your job responsibilities don’t allow for that.
However, if your website isn’t managed in some fashion, you won’t see the proper returns on your investment. Site management can be as simple as performing site updates, or more technical in nature, like developing an SEO strategy or preventing site hacks. Whatever your needs are, make sure you have a plan moving forward once the project is complete. It doesn’t have to include your developer, but you should ask how they can help you manage your product after the website build.
When dealing with anything unfamiliar, it’s important to ask questions prior to starting and along the way. Web design and development is no exception. Asking questions and communicating throughout the process will ensure that the developers know exactly what you want, giving you peace of mind.
Are you ready to make your business visible on the web? Fill out our website worksheet free of charge to see if we’re the right fit for you.