This is the second in a six part series outlining five separate action steps in developing a web presence. Our first article, Five Action Items in Your Website Build, briefly detailed five steps to consider when embarking on a website project. Instead of labeling this post, Choosing a Website Company, we chose to title it Choosing a Technology Provider because oftentimes building a website is only the first step in many as you take your business online. The following tips will help you get started in taking your business online, or take it to the next level on the world wide web.
Brainstorm your needs. Depending on the size of your company, create a workgroup to brainstorm all of your company’s needs related to a website and other online and mobile technology. Write down everything that matters now and where you’d like to see your business in five, ten and twenty years. Prioritize your list in order of importance long-term and short-term. Use this list as a guide as you determine which technology company is best suited to help you meet and exceed these needs.
Do your own homework. While it isn’t your job to know the ins and outs of creating a website, it is imperative to know the types of questions to consider as you are interviewing potential candidates. Do you understand the terms SEO, CSS, design, code, CMS, inbound marketing, eCommerce, social media and so on? Do simple Google searches related to these terms so you have a general understanding when you go to interview prospective technology companies.
Research technology companies and narrow your choices down to three top companies. View portfolios. View the technology company’s website – do you like it? Do you believe their story? How high do they rank in the search engines? How important is this compared to design work? What type of technology does the technology provider use? Do they offer design work and coding, or only one of the two? What do they know about SEO? How important is that as compared to ascetics and design? Do they offer you a dashboard or CMS (content management system)? Do they have the ability to easily include a blog on your site? What do they know about social media and mobile marketing? Are there add-ons they offer to a basic website? What are the differences in websites they offer? Do they offer straight template-style sites or do they do custom design as well?
Does the company of your choice have satisfied customers? Are there testimonials you can read? Consider, though, that testimonials could be written by anyone. May you directly contact those who have written testimonials? What about references? Do they have specific websites they can point you to, and can you contact someone at those companies?
Consider cost and timeframe. The first part of this step likely comes before the last two, but you may not know the cost involved in a website build until talking with a few potential providers. As you review costs, ask for a breakdown of costs and services provided in your project. Is there an upfront fee only, or are services provided at a monthly fee? What is included? What are the steps that will be taken in your website build from vision to implementation? Are there additional costs involved in revisions prior to implementation? Are there hidden long-term costs? Do the costs include development, design, consultation, code, hosting, URL registration and other line items like these?
Plan for long term success. How easy is maintenance of the site? Do you have the ability to make easy changes yourself? Are there a certain number of changes they’ll make for you on a monthly basis? What is the time frame on changes if they will make them for you? What can and cannot be changed with/without a fee? What add ons are available? Do they offer strictly technology or do they specialize in marketing and social media as well? What are the costs of additional services as you continue your partnership?
There are so many things to consider when interviewing potential technology companies. Our hope is that we just made it a little bit easier for you. Contact us today with interest in a new custom website. We’re happy to answer all of the questions posed here to get you started. Stay tuned to this blog as the third step in this series will be published next week.