Imagine this phone call:
“So you’ve decided to get a website! Wonderful! Your business will be easier to find and you can start getting the word to new markets – Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, San Francisco, New York – everyone is going to want what you have!
Did you find a web design company? You did! That’s great. Where are they located? Saskatoon? Edmonton? There’s some good ones in Calgary….
Azerbijan. Ah. Well, I hear that’s a nice place. Near Russia, right?
Long way to go for a business meeting, but you want to get the best, right? Did you enjoy chatting with them? Did they understand your goals? What you want out of your online marketing?
You didn’t meet them. Oh, well, nowadays, Skype teleconferencing makes chatting about business so much easier.
No teleconference? No meeting? Oh….
Good old email, then I guess. They must have an amazing sales staff to get you interested in their company over email. So did they send you information on their process? How you get involved? Ask you for your input on goals for your new website? After all, investing in web design is an important step in your business.
Just a standard email with price and delivery date. Hmmm. Any information on how to market the site once it’s up? Questions about your business or brand? How to make changes to your site once it’s launched to make sure the content is always up to date?
Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”
Does it sound like you might be on the other end of that call, rushing to get out of what you now suspect is a bad deal?
There are no end to internet scams and some are devastating. One of the more frustrating ones for us as a web design company is the “Get a great website, fast, easy and cheap” scam, designed to part small business owners from their money. These shady companies prey on the fact that small businesses have no time, little money for advertising and a growing sense of panic that having no website is hurting their business.
We’ve heard from many businesses that went the route of cheap and fast and got back a website that was almost completely worthless. Then they found out they had no control over making any changes – not even basic content updating. The developer? Well, it’s hard to track someone down when you’re only contact was via email.
So how can you choose a web design company you can trust? You need to ask questions. Lots of questions. To help you out, check out our short list of things you should expect from your web design company:
- Expect to be involved.
Web design is really a collaborative process. Web designers are experts at making things look polished and inviting, communicating ideas so that people get the message and programming to make sites fast and fun to visit.
What we are not are experts about your business. That’s you. We might know a lot and we’re committed to learning more, but you are the expert in your field. So we’re going to have questions that only you can answer, about your clients, your expectations, your business goals, your own strengths and weaknesses and your unique value in your industry.
A web design team should want feedback on different elements of the website. Find out if they are willing to answer your questions openly. Don’t be shy about asking questions; it’s your business and getting a site that works for you is essential.
- Expect to have control over your content.
Your site is your marketing tool and visitors want to know that you are a credible business. Unlike when they walk into your store, online customers only have your website to to help them make decisions about your business’s credibility.
Ask your developer if you have control over content updates so that you always have the most current information for your customers. A good content management system (CMS) is designed to make content updates easy so that you can make them as often as you need to and have them show up on your site instantly.
Whatever CMS the developer uses, find out if you can access it and if you will be trained on how to use it. You’ll want the freedom to update your site real time from wherever you are, rather than ask the company repeatedly to make updates for you.
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions.
SEO, CMS, HTML, Responsive, ROI, PPC, CPC, Flash, Wireframe, Nav, FTP, domain, hosting, server, STMP, POP.
These are words (letters?) we use in web development all the time and sometimes we do rattle them off without thinking about the listener. Sorry about that.
However, if the web developer you are chatting with is throwing these terms at you faster than a Saskatchewan summer, he or she might be setting out to confuse you. Don’t let it happen! It’s your website and your investment; you need to know what is going on.
A good web developer will answer any question you have. Anything. So ask, and if you don’t understand the response, follow up.
If they are charging you for it, or they are claiming to be experts at it, or if you’ve heard the term somewhere and think it might be important, ask. It might have a simple answer but that doesn’t make it a dumb question.
Websites are complex, interactive marketing machines with lots of moving parts. You want to invest in a company that understands how those parts fit together.
Want to know more about what developing a website looks like? Ask us questions in the comments section!