Before You Call a Web Developer, Ask Yourself One Question

Because we develop Web sites, not surprisingly, the first words we often hear from people are: “I need a Web site.” My response is often “why?” The answer to that question can be quite telling. I can almost guarantee that you won’t end up with a good Web site if you don’t even know why you need one in the first place.

People waste a tremendous amount of time and money on pointless Web sites. The reality is that a Web site should be treated like any other business or marketing expenditure. As with any other advertising medium, you should set goals for your Web site. For example, suppose you sell dog treats. You spend a bunch of money printing a brochure that explains why your dog treats are healthier or tastier than the ones at the grocery store. The goal for that brochure is to give people information on all the fabulous benefits of your special dog treats.

In much the same way, your Web site might explain why your dog treats are great. In fact, it might be nothing more than an “online brochure” with a lot of the same information as the paper one. That’s a reasonable goal for a new site. Since lots of people surfing around online have dogs, later on you may decide that you want to expand your horizons outside of your local area and use the Internet to sell your marvelous dog treats online. In that case, you might need to learn more about ecommerce, merchant accounts, and shopping carts.

As a general rule, people go online to find information, to be entertained, or to buy stuff. If your site lets people do one or more of these things, it has a reason to exist. However, unlike your paper brochure, a Web site has only about four seconds to get your message across (according to a recent report from Akamai and Jupiter Research). If you have no clue what information people are supposed to glean from your Web site, neither will your site visitors. Four seconds later, they’re gone and they probably won’t return.

Your site goals have a lot to do with your business. Many businesses put up Web sites largely for people who are outside of the community and looking for products or services. The most likely visitors to these sites would be tourists and people moving or new to the community, so the information on the site could include frequently asked question (FAQ) pages, pricing, driving directions, and contact information

When setting Web site goals, it makes sense to think about the visitors you are hoping to attract to the site. Who will be reading it? What do they need to know? Why would they visit your site in the first place? What terms would they type into a search engine to find your site? If you don’t have good answers for these questions, you should reconsider the question I asked at the beginning of this article: “Why do you need a Web site?”

Not every business needs a Web site. Many service businesses that rely exclusively on local customers and word of mouth may not. You know your business better than anyone, so before you pick up the phone to call a Web designer, think about what you want your Web site to do for you and why.

What to Ask Your Web Design Or Web Development Company

Getting a professional design for your website is crucially important. Potential customers use the web to research many purchases before buying. So it’s vital that you present a good impression.

Many people have found it’s not easy to find a good web designer. This can result in unnecessary expense and headaches. Here are some tips to help you avoid problems.

Many people’s first concern is the look of their website. Does it have a professional feel that customers will find appealing? Make sure that you look through previous work that your web design company have done. Some web site designers have graphic designers in house. They can help you get the exact look that you want.

Ask your web design company if they will be using a template or if they’re creating a custom made site. A template driven site will cost less but your site may look like hundreds of others. You can make the decision as to how important these factors are.

You should think about how you are going to attract customers to your site, at an early stage. Can your web designer also provide search engine optimization services? By doing this your site can appear on the first page when your customers search on Google and Yahoo. It is often wise to build a site with SEO in mind. This is more sensible than building a site and then making changes to optimize it later on.

Naturally, cost is going to be a consideration. When thinking about this, take into account the ongoing costs associated with your site. Don’t be fooled by companies that provide a site cheaply but charge expensive monthly fees. Over a three year period these can really start to add up. You should be certain about what you will be charged for updates to an existing website. There have been businesses that have been charged huge fees for minor changes to their site.

Getting a new website is a great opportunity. But don’t let the process turn into a nightmare. By avoiding some of the mistakes that other businesses have made you will end up with the perfect website.

Successful eCommerce by Using Local Web Design and Web Development Companies

If you are thinking of getting an e-commerce website built to sell your products online, using a local web design company can be very beneficial if you follow these very simple rules:

Benefits for using a local web design company:

  • Face to Face Meetings.
  • Build a Relationship with the web company as an e-commerce website needs at least 1 year to become established.
  • Less expensive than using a large web company.
  • Smaller companies build themselves on reputation so they will try their hardest to deliver.

The Rules to follow when selecting which web company to use:

How does the web design company present themselves?

Check their website and take a look at how they present themselves, if they are a reputable and at the top of their game they will have a stunning website.

Check their portfolio

Once you narrow down your search take a look each companies portfolio, this again will show you if they can design and produce stunning websites.

Speak to their Customers

Once you have looked through their portfolio, select a few of their customers and give them a call. Ask them how the web company was to work with and what type of approach they took when giving a plan on how they could help you grow your e-commerce websites.

Check their search engine rankings

Once you have narrowed your search down to at least 3 web design companies you may be interested in using to build your e-commerce website, have a look at how their own website ranks on Google. The best way to do this is take a look at what keywords they have in the header of your browser bar and then type these into Google.

You need to do this for a few of the keyword terms and phrases that you find on a few pages of their website.

A good web design company needs to build websites with good SEO Practices.

Google Product Search

For me this is a must when it comes to launching a new e-commerce website. If the web design company know what they are doing they will create a product feed to Google’s product search and this on its own can start generating traffic to your website and it should come as part of the initial cost.

Google Analytics

Another good practice that web design companies should follow is installing Google Analytics, this way they will be able to look at how your website is performing and how they can improve certain pages on your eCommerce site.

All the points above work as they are practices that companies I have worked for follow. More and more local web design companies are starting to use good web and SEO practices, and if you stick to the points above you should be getting a good e-commerce website and stimulating your local economy.