5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Website Developer!

Hiring a website developer to revamp or create a website for your business is a major investment.  Not only does it cost money to hire a developer, you will also spend a lot of your own time on the project.  You will also have to balance what you would like your website to achieve versus your budget.Image of paper pad and pen.

This NOT a time to be shy.

Ask lots of questions and take good notes about the answers.

Here are 5 questions to ask potential website developers…

#1    I want to do website updates myself – will you train me so that I can do this?

Will the training be included in the price?  How will that training be provided?  A printed manual, video tutorials, over the phone meeting and/or in person?

#2    Do you provide copywriting services?

Or, in simpler terms, will you help me write the content to go on the website?  If no, is there someone you would suggest?  If yes, is it included in the price?  If it is not included how much extra would it be?

#3    Who is responsible for loading the content to the website?

Will you do that or will I need to?  If you will load the content, is it included in the price?

#4    Is designing websites your full time or part time focus?

If part time, what other jobs or projects do you work on?  Listen to their answer, and judge how your work is going to fit into their schedule.  Will it be a priority?  If it will take more time to complete your website is that ok?  When you discuss a deadline with them how confident do they sound in meeting it?

#5    What are your payment terms?  Is a deposit required?  When is the final balance due?

Be very wary of designers who would like full payment up front.  If you pay everything at the beginning, it leaves you without an important negotiating tool if the project is not meeting your expectations or is running late.

Review not only the answers themselves, but how the information was delivered.  Was the developer professional?  Do you feel like you would get along with this person?  Was it easy to communicate with this individual or did you have to chase them for answers?

If you would like more tips on how to get the website you need please visit here.

An Easy to Fix Error Driving Traffic Away From Your Website

Have you ever had the experience where you are looking around a website, you click a link to find out more about a certain recipe, product or upcoming event – and then…. Huh?  What happened to the original website I was on?  How did I lose that website as an option?… What was their name?

Image of window with ivy and flowers.
Should you link to a “new window” or an “existing window”?

When adding a link to your website – watch for wording such as “open in this window/frame” or “open in a new window.”  Sometimes both choices are offered, sometimes only one is indicated and the other is considered the default.

A Link To Another Part of Your Website

These are great.  Links to a related blog post, your e-newsletter sign-up, upcoming events, a specific product or service are all wonderful ideas.  Allow these to open In the existing window.  They keep visitors clicking and lead visitors along the path of increased knowledge and to making a purchase.

PDF’s

Use these sparingly on your website.  Event posters with lots of graphics, downloadable forms or detailed documents are suited to being pdf’s.

Always have pdf’s open as a new window.  A pdf is usually a dead end so don’t drive traffic away and leave it there.

Make sure the key details or a summary of the document are included on the website itself.  For example, if it is an event poster make sure you note the event name, date, time, location, and contact info on the related web page as well as on the pdf.  If the pdf does not open for some reason visitors still have the key details.  Generally, it will also make it easier for search engines.

Links to Social Media

Your website is the foundation of your website presence so direct traffic to social media accounts using a new window.  After they connect with you and perhaps gotten lost reading updates (haven’t we all done it?)  ….. your website will still be open in their browser – inviting them to return and read more!

Links to Other Businesses or Organizations

Never open these in the same window.  If you do, once the link opens your website will disappear from their browser window.  Open these in a new window.

Carefully consider who you are sending traffic too.  How are you benefitting from listing this business or organization?  Are you a member of the association listed?  Does it add credibility to your business?  Do they send traffic to your website?

But they’re my friend! 

Sometimes a small group of business friends will include links to each other on their websites.

Unfortunately, links to other websites can drive traffic away from you, and distract your website visitor from focusing on you, your products and services.

A middle ground might be to remove your “Other great businesses” section and instead have your colleagues write a guest blog that you can post on your website.  Include a link at the bottom of the post to their website.  Make sure to provide them with a guest blog for their website as well!

If you are including a link to them, they should be including a link back to you.

At minimum, always have this link open in a new window.

So check it out!  Cruise your website and watch for links that should be updated.

Don’t have a lot of links on your website?  Look for spots to add them to encourage traffic to move around your website and keep visitors there longer.

Remember the ultimate goal is for your website visitors to learn more about you and move closer to making a purchase.

For more website advice check out Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need.

Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need

Your website is the foundation of your online presence.  It’s also a significant investment of time and money.    Here are some tips to help ensure you get the website you want.

Before you hire a web developer, put together a “creative brief.”

Generally, website developers are not mind readers so it is important to think through your requirements.  Absolutely your developer should have suggestions for you; but if you are well prepared the developer will be able to provide a more realistic quote and it will also make the process more efficient.Website under construction!

Map out what you need.

Think about the information you want to provide on your website, the desired reactions of visitors and what actions you want them to take after visiting.  Start brainstorming!  Write each unique topic, reaction and action on a post it note.  Do you need a section for recipes?  Will you include photos of your family?  How about an e-newsletter opt-in section, link to Facebook or a shopping cart function?

For more ideas…

Look at your marketing materials such as brochures, letters, etc.  Check out your competitors websites.  Think through the steps a customer makes to find you and buy from you.  What information do they need and should it be included on the website?  Once you have your pile of post it notes start grouping them together to help identify the different areas and flow processes for your website.  (I like post it notes because it allows you to move everything around to develop a basic map or layout for your website.)

Caution!  Friends or family may not be the best choice to create your website.

Sometimes the results are great and you save a lot of money.  In many cases, the website takes a long time to get finished, or it never gets completed at all.  It may be set up on a system you have no idea how to use and is difficult for another web developer to continue working on.

Other important items.

Think about how you will use the website after it is finished.  Ask your developer to set up a backup system and Google Analytics.  Will they provide you with some kind of instruction manual and/or training session for the website so that you can do many of the updates yourself?

Passwords, logins, renewal dates – keep track of these.

Be sure to know who your domain name was purchased through and who is your website host.  When does your domain name and current hosting contract expire?  Have you signed up for automatic renewals?  Which email(s) did you use for these services?  If the web developer helped set up these systems, be sure to get the information from them before the project is finished.  It can be very difficult and awkward to track down your web developer a year or two later.  (And even more so if you plan to use someone different.)

Stuck on how to get started?

I believe one of the most important parts of any creative brief is a section where you list 2-3 websites you like and two to three you don’t like.  This can be a great way to start thinking about your website.  Make notes for each one as to why you like or don’t like them.  Is it the colours used? The font?  The overall feel?  The information provided?  How easy or difficult is it to find your way around the website?  Including this information really helps communicate your preferences to the web designer.

Although there are other aspects of website development to consider, giving thought to these areas will certainly help you on your journey.

Milkweed Marketing can help you with your website!  If you need a new website, assistance is available to prepare a creative brief, find a website developer and manage the project.  Another option is a website review that includes detailed recommendations on how to improve your existing website.  For more information email susan@milkweedmarketing.com