7 Tips on Choosing the right Web Developer

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This is Chris from Smartfish Creative rolling out the first of hopefully many weekly creative tips on web and graphic design for your business.

This week I want to share 7 tips on choosing the right website developer, and what you should be paying for a small business website.

When planning a new website there are a number of key factors that you need to look at, which will determine the functionality of your site, your cost on investment, and the overall outcome of the site.

#1 What will your website functionality include?

Before running off and getting a quote on a website, or worse, trying to build it yourself, think about what the purpose of your website is, what your website functionality should include, who your target audience is, and what you want your website to achieve, for example is it a simple online marketing tool for your business, or a full-blown merchant website. 

I use a simple yet very effective website planner that helps provide me with all this information and more, to help determine the functionality and price for clients, and ultimately give them the website that best suits their business.

You can download a copy of my planner at www.smartfish.com.au/webplanner

#2 Request 3 quotes

How much you should be paying for a website is like asking how long is a piece of string! Ultimately it will come down to the functionality that is required, which then determines the time required to build the site and any additional services such as photography, content writing etc that is required.

But I always recommend getting three quotes from local web design agencies first before making the decision.

I had a client come to me last week with a quote he had received from another local web agency asking over $7000 for a 7 page WordPress website.

Now, keeping in mind that a 7 page website with all content provided by the client such as in this instance, including SEO built in, will take around a day and a half to build. So even taking out costs such as web hosting, WordPress theme licences etc, they would be charging around $550 per hour, which is insane!

So, with this in mind, this comes to my next point…always ask what you are getting for the price…

#3 Know what you are getting

Not all web developers are equal, and not all provide the same services or support. For example, most web designers don’t provide search engine optimisation as a standard part of their web development. In fact, most don’t even know how to do SEO! This is like building a car with no engine..it might look nice but if it doesn’t go anywhere you are throwing your money away. 

Ensure SEO is always included. Also ask if it includes any training on maintaining and updating your content, or a general maintenance program, security features, automatic backup and archiving, etc.

#4 Will it be built locally and not outsourced?

This is very important. Many web designers will outsource to another company, and while this is a cost effective way of creating a website as labour overseas is very cheap, you don’t know who is building your website, what experience they have, is their computer virus-free, and very importantly if anything goes wrong with your website say in 12 months or so, will they be available? I recommend asking your web candidates these questions before making any decision on who you will choose.

#5. Ongoing support

As per my last tip, Ongoing support is good to have, particularly if you want your website to last the stretch. See, most websites these days are basically an operating system, and like the operating system of your computer, or your car’s engine, they do require some level of service from time to time to keep them in good working order, virus free and well optimised. A website that is even maintained quarterly will see a long life of many years.

So ask your web designer if they provide maintenance, what would be included and of course what it will cost. Most should provide you with a basic short term maintenance plan when you have your site built, but it is recommended to put in place a long term maintenance agreement, which means that regularly maintenance should only take a around 30 minutes maximum per quarter, which should be very cost effective, and much cheaper than having to rebuild your site if it were to be hacked or broken.

#6 Ongoing costs

Also ask about any other ongoing costs, such as website hosting, SSL certificates, domain renewal, and other plugin licence costs, etc.

Website hosting will usually cost you around $100 per year, while a domain name should be around $15 per year, so while there are bound to be some basic costs, they should be minimal, but good to know about them so you can plan your budget.

#7 How long will it take to build

Once you have worked out all the main things such as functionality, inclusions and costs, you’ll probably want to know how long it will take. This will obviously depend on how soon you have the content ready, but as mentioned in tip #3, if it is a 7 page website, you are probably looking at around a decent day to build the site, then allow time to test it, so for a small business website it is best to allow a week to ensure everything is perfect, rather than rushing it.

Most web designers will build your site on a testing server first, allowing you to view the site and provide feedback, and then once you are totally happy the site goes live.

With these 7 tips in mind, hopefully now you’re now ready to go off and have your website built professionally with peace of mind!

Happy website building and I’ll see you again next week!

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