I tell clients that a website is like a puppy. It’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life! So if you are asking a web designer to build a website for you what are the six things you should ask, even if you know nothing about websites?
- Who will own the site? The answer should be YOU. What if the designer goes bust or you fall out with them? You need to know that it is your website and you can switch to another developer if you need to. You need to know where your site is hosted and the logon credentials so yo could give that information to another developer. It should be your credit card being charged for hosting so you know exactly what it costs per year.
- Why that hosting company? Why has the designer chosen that hosting company? What does it offer compared to anyone else? Trust me, you don’t want the cheapest. It must be a reliable company that offers good technical support and the ability to backup the site. You want to hear from your designer solid reasons for the choice not just “oh we always use them”.
- What is the ongoing cost? Many hosting companies offer huge discounts for the first year but then there is a big jump for the second year. Make sure you know what the ongoing costs are. That includes the domain name which maybe cheaper or even free for the first year. But also think about the future when you want to make changes to the site either to the text or some new images. Will your designer do that and what will they charge. If they offer a maintenance agreement (and this is a good thing) make sure you know what is covered in it and what isn’t.
- What about my ranking in Google? How will someone find your business if they don’t know the name of it? What key words would you type into Google to find your business? Ideally you want to appear on the first page of results.
- How quickly will my website load? It’s not just about design. It’s natural to be thinking about how the site looks but that is not the sole criteria. You need good design to attract visitors and keep them interested but visitors to your site have no patience – the site must load quickly because they will not wait. There are some well-known online tools that measure the site performance so insist on seeing the report once the site is near completion. You want a score of at least 90% for performance because less than this will effect your ranking ion Google search.
- Will it work on mobile devices? 60% of users browsing the web are using their phones so your website must look good on a phone and it must load quickly. Ask to see reference sites and check them out on your mobile phone. How do they look? Are the sites legible and easy to navigate? You want assurances that your website will look great on a laptop, a tablet and a mobile phone.
You don’t need to know about websites to ask some basic questions like this. Don’t let anyone bamboozle you with technical stuff – they should be able to explain concepts clearly to you. If not, it’s probably not the web designer you’re looking for…