We can’t stress this enough:
In this internet age, a website can make or break your business.
In the world of website design companies, sometimes it can be really hard to know what you’re paying for. So the big question to ask is “How much is this website worth to my business?” or more importantly, “How much will a badly designed website cost my business in lost opportunities?”
A great website is the hub of your entire online presence, if not your entire marketing strategy.
It should drive traffic, create conversions, develop a sense of brand recognition, loyalty and community within your customers. It should not be a glorified Yellow Pages ad. Most importantly, it should allow you to make more sales, and get and keep more customers.
So then, to make sure you have a great website, here are 10 things you needs to know about before signing on the dotted line with a website company.
1.Will You Own Your Website?
That is, ALL of it, the CMS, the HTML code, the domain, everything. If you don’t, changes can get very expensive later on. If and when you walk away from the designer or programmer, what do you actually walk away with? Can you walk away at all and still have a website? Will another programmer or web designer be able to edit it easily?
2.Does your website company actually understand marketing?
And we mean really understand marketing. As in, the art of relating to your target market, and selling in the face of other competition. Do they understand how to strategically differentiate you? Will your website design provide your customers with the experience and functionality they are looking for and expecting? Most web designers aren’t marketing experts, so are you leaving essential strategic decisions about how your website benefits your business to an IT technician?
3.Very important: is the content easily edited by other people- be they you, your staff, new programmers, an SEO company or your marketing consultant?
If it takes someone twice as long to figure out how to use an obscure, unfamiliar custom CMS that was written by a techy person, you’ll be paying for it.
More crucially, if you can’t easily write blog articles, connect social media in the right ways, plug in email marketing to build your subscribers, add, remove or modify your product information, and so on, the growth of your entire enterprise is being significantly hobbled.
4.Does it stand out visually from your competition or does it use the same template as all the other sites from that developer?
Standing out from the crowd is important. Great websites shouldn’t just look great; they need to perform very specific things to both differentiate you in your market and guide your prospective customers to do what you want them to.
5.Is the site architecture easily edited?
Can you add to menu systems, add pages, change titles…? This is really important to be able to update and change your website for new content, products or marketing inititatives. An added benefit is the ability to keep on top of search engine updates.
6.Has it been programmed with current search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind?
How easily can you make any changes or additions to the most basic, essential features such as Page Titles, H1 tags, alt image attributes, meta descriptions, rich snippets, and so on? (you may not know what these are, but to a good SEO company they’ll help boost your search engine rankings significantly).
7.Even better than the ability to SEO your website- does it come with most on-page optimisation already there and up-to-date?
The search engines change their algorithms regularly meaning SEO practices also need to change. Often we see brand new, allegedy SEO’d websites with on-site optimisation that is already out-dated and could actually be harming your website’s SEO.
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8.What ongoing support do you get?
If you are adding your own content, what happens if things go wrong? If you are relying on the programmer to add content, how long is it reasonable to wait for that news article to be uploaded, or that heading to be fixed?
9.How future-proof is the CMS?
Can you easily add the most up to date widgets and plugins to benefit from advances in web design and SEO practices? Can you even use free plugins on the site, or will the website company manually add the functionality? Again, this can be very expensive. Again, make sure you find out the costs.
10.Does your site fit in with Google’s page layout algorithm?
Is there the right amount of quality content “above the fold”?
After all of this – it isn’t enough to have a website programmed, uploaded to the web and then wait for the world to come.
Your new website needs to be marketed properly, taking advantage of a range of online and traditional marketing and advertising strategies to bring the kind of traffic which results in sales. Without this, your website will remain an under-utilised asset.
Effective websites aren’t cheap, but when well done, the benefit to your business is huge and measurable.
Want to know how your site, or a proposal, stacks up?