Top Ten Things to Do Before Hiring a Web Developer

Before approaching web developers for estimates on building your new business’s site, there are a few things you should think through first so you are fully prepared for the questions you will be asked. Here’s a list of ten things to be clear on before making that important next step:

  1. Be clear on your business plan. This may sound obvious, but it has happened where I’ve been asked to build a website when the potential client only had an idea of what they wanted and no business foundation planned out at all. Are you sure you have a viable business idea that will provide you with a reasonable ROI or is this more of a hobby that you just want to dabble in? It is important to be clear on your intensions of what you want to accomplish first.
  2. Be clear on your business name.  Make sure you have a registered business name before creating any of your marketing materials. It could be a costly mistake to have to go back and change everything if you find out your business name has been rejected.
  3. Be clear on the product you sell or service you provide. Ensure you are clear on the product or service you offer so your developer knows what site features and design will work best to enhance them. Ask yourself if they are digital products or systems or a service for hire? How many products and how are they sold?
  4. Be clear on your brand. This does not mean you have to have your logo already designed (some web development companies can also design your logo and other stationery/marketing materials for you as well), but it does mean you need to be clear on the message you want to give others about you and your business. This is actually not an easy or quick process but makes a significant difference if you are clear on this before moving on to anything else. Often the designer/marketer that you hire to create the visual brand for you can help with this process or I recommend checking out BrandU where they help you through your brand definition process step-by-step. Once done, you will be very clear on not only the essence of our brand, but also the “look” of your brand so you can simply hand over your results to your designer to create it for you.
  5. Be clear on what you want your website to accomplish.  A site that does not have a clear call to action is not going to be effective in fulfilling its purpose. When visitors come to your site, what do you want them to do once there? What is your primary call to action?
  6. Be clear on how you are going to get site visitors into your database. The odds are slim that someone is going to purchase from you on their first visit to your site, so you need to plan out a way to capture their name and email address so you can keep in touch with them on a regular basis and develop a relationship with them.
  7. Be clear on what features you want on your site. Will it be a static “brochureware” site with standard 4-5 pages or do you want something more dynamic with features such as a blog, calendar, search function, photo gallery, shopping cart system, newsletter system, membership signup etc.?
  8. Be clear on your budget. Your developer needs to know a price range that you’re looking at so they can recommend a site build that will fit within your means. Keep in mind that your website is your primary marketing piece due to it being accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You don’t want to skimp with such an important and prominent showcase of your business! Don’t be fooled by the cheaper template options or “do it yourself” applications out there where, unless you have studied the intricate nuances of how the Internet works, search engine optimization and effective layout design, you run the  risk of scaring off your perfect customers instead of attracting them!
  9. Be clear on website maintenance.  Once your site is built, who is going to maintain it? The reason why this is important to determine before your site is built is due to the different ways it can be built. If you want to be able to update the site yourself, then you need your site built in a CMS (Content Management System) platform. This will put your site design into a template where you log in to make updates. Now before you get excited about the thought of saving all that money on doing this yourself, consider these points:
    1. Do you know enough about content layout and copywriting to make an effective marketing piece that looks professional to your perfect client?
    2. Do you know how to optimize images so they don’t slow down your site’s performance?
    3. Do you have enough time to do updates to your site?
    4. Are you aware you can’t write off your time that you spend on doing things yourself where you can if you have a professional take care of the updates for you? As you can tell, I am biased on this point… the reason is from working with over a  hundred clients over the years, these points always come up and they soon find out that even though it seemed they could “easily” update their site themselves, it rarely turned out that way. I heard from many that were extremely frustrated because they were working in an environment and medium totally foreign to them. Meanwhile they were wasting valuable time trying to learn to be a web developer instead of spending it on getting clients! Mind you, some people are more computer literate and can pick up on the more technical aspects required and they manage fine; however, it is still important to learn good copywriting skills and understand what makes an effective website before going the DIY route.
  10. Be sure you do your research on who to approach. You want to find someone with experience and skill who will partner with you to help you build your business. You want to avoid programmers who only do exactly what you tell them as opposed to others who can offer ideas, suggestions and be a part of your  team to be there as a valuable resource when needed. Always ask to talk to their clients to see what their experience was working with the developer. Be aware of those that claim to be developers when in reality, all they learned was how to use a “do it yourself” software like Microsoft Front Page. The quality of your site – both in design and in how it is coded – is very important on many levels so ensure the person you hire understands how to design and build a quality product for you.

Obtaining Cheap Web Development Services

The term cheap web development is not necessarily one that one would associate with a good website, but as this article aims to demonstrate, it is possible to get hold of some good quality web development for a very reasonable price.

People with experience in web design, but who have not built up a portfolio of work, may well offer their services for a significantly lower price than professionals, who can, it must be admitted, charge a premium for these sort of services.

Whether it is PHP, ASP, XML or Flash – there is probably someone out there with the experience and skills to get the job done for an attractively discounted price. People do this because they want extra experience but more importantly want to be involved in atop end project that they can then show to future prospective clients in a bid to win them over and begin charging a fuller price.

When firms are looking to cut costs in any conceivable area of their business, finding cheap web development or a similar service at a discounted price can be a god send.

As well as looking for these kinds of services in classified ads both online and in newspapers, there are special companies that pair up these kind of skilled people with firms who need those particular services.

It is often the case that students form the greater part of such groups of people, as they often have a burgeoning number of skills but do not have the level of experience required to land bigger jobs. In this case they are looking for ways to add to their portfolio whilst simultaneously making some cash to pay for their studies or perhaps their basic living expenses.

Rather than finding the people directly, the possibility of going to a company that specialises in this ‘pairing up’ of skilled people with those who could use their services – means that the student or person involved can be fully verified in terms of character and skill; accessing CV information along with examples of work.

Cheap web development is something that offers up a situation where everyone wins – a high quality website or application is developed for a reduced price, while the person who carries out the work can get a ‘foot up’ when it comes to learning their trade – and gain experience that will ultimately put them in good stead for years and years to come.

Web Development – Breathe Deep

Can your website breathe?

Think for a moment about your body and how it operates when you breathe. Air is inhaled, filling the lungs with oxygen and allowing that oxygen to recharge your blood calls as it cycles through your system. As you exhale the depleted waste called Co2 is forced from the lungs as the body waits for another round of oxygen.

Most people don’t even have to think about breathing it just happens. It is an involuntary action that we have the ability to control.

In essence when you sleep your body will breathe on its own without your consciously thinking about breathing. However, when you’re in the doctor’s office and he or she asks you to take a deep breath – you can.

So, what does this have to do with web development?

You can design your website to accommodate fluctuations with our without your involvement. The site can grow and contract easily.

For instance with web builder technology you can add a page that will need to be removed at a very specific time. This could be a sales page or an event page. If that information remains on the website your visitors may experience a decrease in trust as they find outdated information.

With quality web builder technology you can assign a day and time that the page should be removed – or a day and time for a new page to be added. Essentially you can develop your site using a dating system that will automatically add new pages when you want and remove them when you want – hands free.

In some sense the term ‘web development’ is indicative of a process that does not require all your time and attention. You can spend quality time in the development of content and then time-release that content so it can have an impact in return visitors. By using an RSS feed you can have that time-released information become a regular calling card for those most interested.

Like breathing the new material breathes life into the site as the new information is accessed (crawled) by search engines and the old information is expelled (deleted) from the site (or moved to an archive for later reference).

In many cases you can either direct the site pages to either deleted completely or simply removed from general viewing, but they still remain available to you for use at a later date.

Web development is different than web design in one very specific way. Web design is often a function of personality, looks and expression. Web development is keeping the site personality refreshed and inviting.