How Do I Select a Website Developer to Build my Website?

Website Developer Selection ProcessWhy Selecting a Website Developer is Important?

Your website is the hub to your digital marketing. There has been a lot of talk recently that websites are no longer relevant but for most businesses and organisations it’s the only place on the internet that you can genuinely control. Your Facebook™ and LinkedIn™ accounts can be taken from you at a moment’s notice. Amazon™ and eBay™ are the same. If you don’t comply with one of their rules then they suspend your account without notice and it can take a lot of work to get it reinstated, if at all. Finding a good website developer that means or needs and budget can be a real challenge. This blog shows you a proven process that will help you find the right one for you.

There are many ways you can develop a website and mostly this will depend on your budget and what your objectives are.

Ideally, you want a web site that is on website hosting that you control and using a technology that you can easily update. For most of the time this is usually a WordPress™ and a UK based Internet Service Provider. If you are a very small company then you may want to look at Wix.com or SquareSpace.com in order to get you started. Shopify™ is an excellent start for those considering an ecommerce site.

Finding a web developer to work with is not hard. Just go to a local networking group, a quick trawl of Google (web developer + your town) or LinkedIn. The challenge is finding a good one that knows what they are doing, are creative and can work to a time and budget.

Website Developer Selection Process

The basic stages to developing a web site are:

  • Planning – Be clear on what you want. Find example web sites that you like. Look at our competitors’ websites as well as others outside of your industry. Make sure you have your branding like logos, colours and, if you have them, brand guidelines available.
  • Tender – Write a website project scope document. This need not be complicated. Include:
    • Domain Name (web address) for the site. If you don’t have one focus on being unique, interesting and memorable.
    • Hosting (if you have an opinion). Look to be in control of this if you can in case it doesn’t work out with your developer.
    • Site Map/Navigation. What your menus will look like and location of information.
    • Customer journey – What are your customers expecting to do on the site? Ensure the design supports all stages from research to purchase and even post-purchase.
    • Mailchimp™ or equivalent integration for collecting contact details
    • Mobile/Tablet/Desktop responsive
    • Fast Page Loading times.
    • Basic SEO Support. Request the Yoast™ plugin so you can get found on Google™ without having to pay for experts.
    • Automatic Backups/easy restore in place in case you make a mistake
    • Connected to your Google™Analytics account – ask them to create one for you if you don’t have one. You need to own this in case there is a problem with the developer.
    • WordPress™ and Plugins (small pieces of software that help WordPress) are easily updateable to keep the site secure from hackers.
    • Staging site access (where the developers build the website prior to launch)
    • Redirection of visitors from the old website to the new. Ensure there is time in the project to do what are called “301 redirects” to your new website otherwise your visitor numbers will fall.
    • Compliance with GDPR, Companies Act 2006 & any other legislation that may apply.
  • Content, write this  if you can. A web designer can work without your content but it does create problems. There are plenty of content writers out there who can do it for you.
  • Images, find the right ones. Do not take them from Google™ Images or similar. You need to own the copyright or have the rights to use it. There are plenty of good free stock photo sites out there at the moment but original photos of you and your products and services are better.
  • Website Developer Selection. Identify at least 3 web companies who you think may be able to help. They are likely to all approach the project differently. Make sure they answer all the aspects in the tender.
  • Interview all those that you like and meet your criteria. It may seem a tedious prospect but I have known companies waste thousands of pounds and nearly wreck their business through poor due diligence.
  • Website projects take time. Most business owners are surprised by how much work they have to do mainly around the words and images but also in the testing. Respond quickly to any request for information from the developers as they could be held up which means your projects drops down the order of priorities at the developer.
  • Staging site. A good website development company will hold the build of the website on what is called a staging site. Make sure you have access to this so that you can review it and test it prior to launch.
  • Training. After the website has been developed, make sure you have been trained on how to update it as Google™ will need to see that you are active on it with new content otherwise abandoned sites drop quickly down the rankings.
  • Redirection. Website visitors from the old website, if you had one, need to be redirected to the new pages on the website.

Do not short cut the tender process for finding the right website developer. Make sure you interview your short listed suppliers and make sure you review the sites that they have developed and speak to their previous customers. It can be very expensive to sort out a failed website project.

For a free ebook, go to: How to Drive Sales with Digital Marketing

If you would like help with the procurement process then call 0345 053 7417 or email [email protected]

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