In this post we cover ways to make the website development process go smoothly. But first, some tips for selecting a website development firm:
- Communication is key: while it can be convenient to work with a business in your town it’s more important to find a company that communicates well, because you’ll likely do the bulk of your business by phone or email. Do they return calls promptly? Try emailing them. See if the response is timely and they answer all your questions.
- Are they easy to get along with? You will have an ongoing relationship with your website developer – websites do require tending and upkeep, so it’s important that you choose someone you’ll enjoy working with. Clients have told me, over and over, that they’ve fired previous website developers for “being rude” or “making me feel stupid”. Look for someone who strives to give you a good experience.
- Can they deliver? Quality websites are easy to use, attractive, and allow you to find what you’re looking for quickly. Explore a prospective developer’s portfolio thoroughly and see if they have experience building the kind of site you want. Or, find a site that you like and contact the company that built it.
Customer Dos and Don’ts – Get a Good Site
Do: follow the steps above and choose a quality web development firm. Developers are professionals just like mechanics and dentists. Make sure yours is trustworthy – don’t gamble with your marketing money.
Do: have a purpose in mind for your website. Is your goal to simply establish a basic web presence? Do you want to become known as an authority in your field? Do you want to sell a specific amount of product within the first six months of your launch? Set some goals and discuss them with your developer.
Do: designate one person within your organization as contact person for the developer to connect with. Make sure this person will be around for the duration of the project and that they have a reasonable grasp of technology so they can report to you accurately. Communication is key to completing the project on time.
Do: expect the developer to furnish you with a timeline of how the project will evolve. You should have a road map for the development cycle so you know if everything is on track.
Do: make sure you understand the scope of the project before you commit. If you’re buying a house, you expect certain things to be included. A kitchen is included, but a pool is extra. Be clear on which parts of your site are included. If you ask for additional features, expect additional costs and allow more time to complete them.
Do: deliver your content on time. Your website developer should be able to handle some copywriting or photography if that’s what you’ve agreed on, but your organization will be responsible for furnishing product lists and pricing, photographs, contact information and the other major components of your site. Make a list of everything you need to provide, and appoint someone to deliver it quickly.
Don’t: involve a committee if you can avoid it. The best scenario is one that includes the developer and one or two decision-makers at your end. The old adage about “too many cooks” holds true for websites too – keep the incoming opinions to a minimum to keep the project on track.
Do: plan to keep your site updated. Think of your web presence as a garden – it requires attention and continued maintenance if you expect to reach your goals. Make sure you’ve worked out a plan with your developer for ongoing support, and designate someone in your organization to keep your site’s content fresh.