In our recent post about choosing a web host I outlined the factors to consider when choosing where to build your website. In a way this is a follow on post, where I am going to give you some tips on how to make sure that your website is designed and built by the right person for you. While that post detailed the desired specs for a hosting service, this one will focus on making sure you find a web designer who you can work with easily and who will give you the results you want/need!
To choose the person who will build your website, I would strongly suggest that you outline exactly what you want your website to do for you. Make sure that the person you are talking to fully understands your requirments and is going to be able to implement them for you.
Before I go any further, can I just take a pause to explain the difference between two terms that are all too often used interchangeably?
A designer is somebody who designs, so a web designer designs websites. They create the look and feel, incorporate your branding, place items in the best location on the screen for aesthetic and functional reasons. It’s all about the look. Most Web Designers will install a WordPress (or similar) site, apply a theme and customise it using the WordPress interface.
A developer is somebody who develops, so a web developer develops websites. They are comfortable with the coding at the back end of your website. What does this mean for you? Well if you want to have a genuinely unique website, you need a Web Developer. They can customise your website beyond the limits of the theme customisation, they can add extra functionality. The options are limitless when you hire a really good Web Developer.
So, which do you get when you choose Coppertops?
At Coppertops, we believe in offering the best of both worlds. For that reason, we have a team with both design and development expertise who work together to give you a highly functional, highly customised website which incorporates your branding for the look and feel that you are after.
The most important thing whenever you are hiring anybody to do anything for you is to pick somebody who you feel comfortable with, as this makes it much easier to discuss exactly what you are looking for. This applies from the quotation stage through development, launch and on to aftercare. Your website is a tool in your business, so the person you trust to set that up, design it and manage it for you will become a virtual member of your marketing team!
Obviously, price is a major factor for small business owners when choosing to spend their hard earned funds on anything for their business. So it is important that you find a web designer who can create what you are looking for at a pricing level that you can afford.
If your end goal is a massively expensive website, but you have a small budget to start with, then look for somebody who offers payment plans, or a modular service like we offer here at Coppertops. We can get a one page website up and running for as little as €150, which can then be added to as and when you are ready to. The one page site includes all of your information, maps, contact form, contact details, social media links etc. You can even include a blog. You can then add functionality, pages, shop as your budget permits and/or your needs change.
Always check out portfolio, past work and reviews. Look at the designer’s own website for an idea of what they can do. Bear in mind that every client is looking for something different, so while a piece of previous work may not be what you chose it may be precisely what the site’s owner was looking for. If you can, talk to past clients to see what their experiences were of working with the designer you are considering.
If you are particular about the tools that you wish to use to create your website, for example you prefer WordPress to Joomla or you really don’t think you want a WordPress website, ask the developer which methods they use, discuss your preferences to see if they can be taken into account and figure out if you can work together.
If you want to be sure that your website does not have the same layout and look as anybody else’s, ask your developer how much customisation they are planning to do. Bear in mind that customisation takes time, so as in any other field a completely unique look will come with a higher price point.
Check into how easy/difficult it will be for your developer to make changes for you in the future.
Ask whether it will be easy for you to keep your website updated in the future, will your developer show you how your website “works” behind the scenes so you will be able to stay in control of it. Remember it is your website, so make sure you maintain ownership of your domain, your hosting and the site itself. We have seen way too many small business owners with very expensive websites which they were unable to update, had no access to and which were set up by developers who were not interested in making any additional changes post launch.
The value of a Responsive website cannot be overstated, at this stage I would suggest that you should be confirming with your developer that your website will be responsive. A non responsive website is not something that you should be considering. Every website needs to be viewable on mobile and tablet devices, without question.
If you need a shop/payments page or any other ecommerce functionality, discuss this with your developer in terms of how they would implement this for you and make sure that they are really going to give you what you need.
Customer Care, Customer Support, this comes with many titles but they are often name changes to get away from a bad reputation as many companies, even the largest ones, fail miserably at the seemingly simple task of taking care of their customers.
Ask what support will be available to you before, during and after the development of your site. Will your developer be available if you run into any problems, do you feel comfortable (back to trust again) contacting them with any problems you may have?
There are many approaches to the area of customer care, depending on what you expect that you will need your developer to do for you on an ongoing basis.
These functions include: applying security patches to the software for your website, updating content on your website, making layout changes to your site’s design, optimising your site’s content for SEO (search engine optimisation) amongst other things.
You must also determine whether you wish to pay a subscription, pay as you go or on an ad hoc basis or a combination of the two.
For example, at Coppertops we have 3 Customer Care packs on a subscription basis. Bronze for applying security patches. Silver for security patches and updating content. Gold for security patches, updating content and optimising each piece of content for SEO. So our client’s can choose to pay for exactly what they need and no more. We also offer an ad hoc service, although we don’t recommend that anyone’s website be left without security patches so we suggest that all of our clients opt for at least Bronze. With the ad hoc service, if a client decides to change something or add some content on their website, they can give us a shout. We agree a price for that specific task and get it done for them. In this way, we can match our Customer Care services to each client’s budget and to their needs and avoid anybody paying for something that they don’t need. Our clients can also switch plans at any time.
Well, in conclusion, here are the points to review in choosing a web developer or web designer:
- Do you feel comfortable and that you can trust your web developer to create the website that you are looking for?
- Do their prices match your budget? Or can you spread payments or stage development to make it work for you?
- Do their previous projects and reviews give you the impression that they will be able to implement your website as you want it?
- Do their methods suit what you are looking for, will you be able to easily update your site post launch?
- Do you feel that your web developer will be there for you when you need them after your website has gone live?
Good luck in choosing a web developer for your next project. If you feel that we could be a match for your needs, contact us now for a free proposal. Our proposals include an outline of our suggestions for your project and what we can offer to suit your needs, as well as our costs. So you can make an informed decision as to whether we are the best option for you.