Choosing a Web Developer
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With competition among web developers so strong, you’re bound to run into companies that would sooner take your money, than actual y take the time to properly scope out your needs. So how do you tel the difference between the “cowboys” and the “experts”? You need to ensure that the company you’re dealing with is able to demonstrate the capacity to produce commercial grade websites. Check their portfolio of work and contact some of the businesses within that portfolio and see what they have to say. There’s nothing like a glowing referral! Web developers, like businesses in any industry, al tend to differ in how they’l work with you to build your website, but there are some basics which you should always expect. It’s always important to find a developer who wil take the time to understand what your goals are for the website, and to a lesser degree how your industry works. To achieve that understanding your web developer should take the time to sit down with you to discuss the direction of your business, your goals, and be able to offer advice relevant to your industry. You should be wary of consultants with an eagerness to “sign you up” without asking about your website needs and goals; experienced consultants wil take the time to go through the various options available to you, and ensure that the solution they’re pitching is right for you. Similarly, an honest consultant wil happily put their hand up if their product set isn’t suited to your business. The company you deal with should also provide access to up-to-date marketing material and advice; in fact some business owners consider their web developer to be an extension to the marketing arm of their business. Simply put, your web developer should be more than just a design company or group of IT specialists (although they should be al of these things), they should also possess marketing and sales skil s and be happy to share them. Now to Content Management System (CMS) software and why you need it; a website CMS al ows you to update your website content independently of your website designer. You want to do this because it wil save you time by not having to send content changes (no matter how smal ) to someone who wil then send you a bil for their trouble. Good CMS software is simple to master and easy to navigate, much like popular word processors. Always test drive a CMS before you commit, and ensure that the software on offer includes regular updates, either under license or within a clear agreement as to how often updates are provided, and at what cost, if any. Ideal y you should choose a system that can grow with you as your business needs evolve. A good CMS wil also provide control over your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). If your website’s primary function is to attract new business, it wil need regular updating to attract (and retain) the attention of search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Stale website content wil cause search engines to penalize you in search results because search engines are interested in serving to the public the latest and greatest in information. A website is a key part of your business and demands regular attention. Your website’s design is an important consideration especial y if you’re a business with an established brand and logo. A custom graphic design wil provide you with a unique presence on the web so that your business stands out from your competitors. SiteSuite Australasia Phone 1300 130 875
Of course, a completely custom graphic design for your website wil cost more than using a pre-designed template, but pre-designed templates can be wel suited to start-ups or anyone running a second or “hobby” business, or if funds are limited. It’s worth considering that a pre-designed template could be used by any number of other organisations, and you therefore run the risk that you’l look the same as a competitor or an entirely unrelated business. For example, we’ve seen businesses sel ing shoes using the same website design template as a lawn mowing business – and both in the same city! If you want to build up your brand and identity, a custom website design is recommended. Many businesses now include blogging as a key part of their online strategy. With an integrated, regularly maintained blog (“blog” is a online term used to describe a short article of interest) on your website, you slowly build a reputation as an expert in your field and catch the attention of search engines along the way. This is one reason why most modern websites feature a blog. It demonstrates to customers that you’re knowledgeable, and acts as a magnet to the search engines. A final and key consideration when choosing a web developer is to ensure that they offer ongoing technical support. If your website or online store goes offline on Friday afternoon, you need to know that you can get things back to normal within an acceptable time frame. Technology isn’t perfect and things go wrong. Smal er web developers may sometimes quote an unusual y low build price but in the long-term you can spend more time chasing them to fix things. Remember, you’re running a business, not micro-managing your website developer. Choose a company that offers live help desk support and access to emergency support beyond business hours. Very few smal er operators are able to provide genuine on-the-spot support. Even if you consider yourself IT-savvy, there’s plenty that goes on in the background that you may not have direct control over, and this is where a support agreement comes into its own. A final note: if your prospective web developer’s own website doesn’t look slick and professional, what message does that send?
SiteSuite Australasia Phone 1300 130 875
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