So You Want to Build a Website…

So You Want to Build a Website…

Good on ya! It’s hard to get along in the business world these days without a sleek, responsive, and functional website.  With businesses succeeding or failing based on their web presence, it’s even more important to have a great position online than ever. It seems like nowadays everyone and their cousin is building websites. There are even websites that allow you to independently build one without having to know code! The problem is that many of these solutions under-perform and can even hurt your online presence with slow sites that are hard to browse on mobile devices. We’d hate to see that happen, so we’ve compiled a checklist of things to keep in mind when choosing a web development team.

The Investment Of A Website

Building a website or web application can be an expensive endeavour. You might be tempted to get a pre-packaged solution that seems like a cheap and easy way to fix a seemingly simple problem. For instance,  a developer who claims to provide three-tiered (or similar) “website packages” is clearly not taking the unique nature of your business into account when developing your site. It’s far more likely they’re just offering you the only solution they are comfortable with – something that might not be right for you. You might end up spending many times that amount later with hack-y upgrades or fixes. We often see website owners approaching other developers because their current developer isn’t capable of making certain changes. No one wants to have to shell out extra cash; which we’re guessing wasn’t advertised as being part of  the “original package.”

So, make sure your website or web application estimate is based on a solution for your business. Whether that number is $1,000, $20,000, or $1,000,000, you want to make sure it’s appropriate relative to the size of your particular solution.

Reliable Developers

A good site is comprised of two aspects: functionality and design. Getting the best of both aspects is crucial and another reason why getting to know your team before production is important. If the team you’re looking at has tried and tested excellent designers and developers then you should be set. Finding one person who can do both properly is difficult since the amount of time and education required to be an expert in both fields is enormous.

Property Management

Everyone is familiar with physical property management but far fewer are comfortable with the idea of digital property management. Owning, securing, and managing a domain is a tough job. You want to make sure that if you’re not an expert you rely on a reputable company to help manage your digital assets. Contracts can be a good way to guarantee your final ownership, but you should always be careful of the fine print.

We’ve seen businesses lose domains to reasons like password loss, forgotten registration periods, and greedy developers.  We receive letters from fraudsters trying to “renew” our own domains and keep them hostage on a regular basis. To someone who isn’t familiar with this thieving practice, you could find yourself behind a hefty bill, or even a complicated lawsuit. These are companies that specialize in stealing property and are usually the ones to win in the case of contested ownership. Having a great digital property manager on your side is far more valuable than is often given credit for.

The Goal

Having the most functional and gorgeous website in the world might not be enough to guarantee viewership or increase sales. You want to make sure your developer has your conversions in mind and is building your site to optimize interaction.

Why do you want to build a website, anyway? Consider what you want to accomplish, who your customers are, when they’re most likely to visit, and what problems you have trying to reach your ideal audience. Your answers to these questions will help you and your team determine the best way to build your site. If a developer doesn’t ask some simple questions about what you’re looking for, you can almost guarantee they aren’t going to make the correct assumptions and the end product won’t produce.

Your website alone is not very likely to promote a successful business. Having a marketing partner who is familiar with digital advertising and how it works with your website is crucial to seeing a great return on investment. Part of your customized solution should include how people would utilize your website as a marketing tool to help up your business. It could consist of or include social media, search engine marketing, or even affiliate network advertisements. These services will almost inevitably come at an additional cost; however, by not properly marketing your business your website investment might end up fruitless! These additional costs should be factored in during your original estimate to give you a good idea of what a successful marketing plan might look like. 

It’s still important to be mindful of contracts. You want to make sure that if everything isn’t working out you’re able to change or find a new team. However, the contract should also be one that holds yourself and your advertiser accountable to commitments and responsibilities. Many developers are quick to start sites without thinking about why they’re being made and with little to no repercussion when they don’t deliver!

Seeing The Results Before They Happen

Making sure your developer is able to give you “proofs of concept” throughout the process to show how they will solve your problems is a great way to make sure your goals will be serviced properly. If you’re not happy with the proofs, you should have the option to make some changes. This is where you want to vet your developers’ flexibility, while still being honest about scope-creep. Your website should be tailored to meet the individual needs of your business.

Contracts

Contracts can be a wonderful way to keep everyone accountable to the project. This includes being answerable for missing deadlines, failed experiments, and under-performing solutions. Any company that’s confident in their abilities will have clear agreements that hold everyone accountable for their own responsibilities. You should always be wary of a contract that is one-sided and seeks to absolve the developer from wrongdoing. Contracts can often be used to lock business owners into lengthy payment schedules, but honest developers will make sure all parties stand to benefit from the business arrangements.

Launch 

Your site’s success will be determined well after its launch. If you don’t have a qualified team or individual to manage your solution, your investment can fall apart rather quickly. Websites need to be regularly updated and maintained, while also being hosted on reputable servers to continue being functional and immune to hackers. You want to make sure that your developer is willing and excited to help you with changes, because your site will change. Make sure either you or your developer is comfortable with a maintenance package that is comfortable for both parties.

What’s Mine is Mine

You might also want to make sure all of your digital assets can be transferred to your ownership in a worst-case scenario. Many site-building websites like Wix or Squarespace are built upon a proprietary system. This means they own all of the code that comprises your website and are locked to their platform, leaving business owners without a website upon a provider change. This means you will be without a site if you have a change of heart or decide to stop paying their monthly fees. This can seriously hurt your reputation and even make people believe you have shut down your entire business!

At the End of the Day…

Websites are hard work! Finding a business partner to help you through everything is a difficult task but is exactly what you’ll be doing. You want to make sure you and your developer see eye-to-eye on the whole and that you’re both poised for success! This should be a fun, exciting, and transformative experience that will help grow your business. If it doesn’t feel that way, you should come visit us!

 

Alexandra Latremouille
alex@imaginativegroup.com
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