Posted: 28 Dec 2016 Contributor: Matthew J Fritschle
10 Important Things to Consider Before Choosing a Web Development Company
A website is often the first thing a potential customer sees when considering where to spend his hard-earned money. It’s the face of a company and first impressions are lasting ones. After all, what’s more trustworthy, a website that looks as though it froze in the late nineties and hasn’t changed since, or one with a modern design and seamless user experience worthy of starring in the latest AI thriller? If you chose the latter you’ve most likely thought about hiring a web development agency to handle what may ultimately be a make or break a situation. Before you take the dive, here are 10 important factors to consider when choosing a partner to create your digital calling card.
1: What’s Your Business Like?
Do you have an online store for consumers or are you a large B2B corporation? You might want to think about incorporating enterprise web development services into your playbook if it’s the latter. A business that has had experience managing large accounts and amounts of data is one indicator they’ll know how to handle the many facets of your company. The next step is to use a platform such as Drupal to manage your web content. Drupal is one of the most secure content management systems out there, and has a large support community willing to help you or your agency out if you run into any problems. If it’s the former and you’re planning on either starting an ecommerce business or migrating one from another platform, consider Magento or Shopify. Both support all the standard requirements of eCommerce businesses, and feature an intuitive backend to help you manage small changes such as adding new products or updating your “about” section.
2: Do You Foresee Your Website and Business Expanding in the Future?
Scalability is important if you expect a lot of traffic on your website. The last thing that you want is to hit a boom in your business only to see your website crash before your very own eyes. If you start small and don’t expect your servers to overload any time soon don’t bother shelling out the big bucks for a website that can handle millions of users at a time. Leave that to bigger websites like Weather.com or Grammy.com that continually experience spikes in traffic.
3: Will Your Website Be Mobile Friendly?
Nowadays the answer to this should always be yes. Pew Research reports that “nearly two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011.” Moreover, a subset of this population (7%) relies entirely on their smartphone for internet access. With these growing numbers it’s not a question of being mobile friendly or not as much as it is about deciding to implement a responsive design. Responsive differs from mobile friendly in that it adapts based on the user’s needs. Images are optimized, navigation is condensed, and the layout scales depending on the size of the screen. Choose an agency that’s well versed in not only mobile-compatible sites, but mobile sites as well. They will have the best experience in guiding you regarding which choice is best for your business. With Google’s newest update prioritizing mobile sites, some agencies are now recommending a mobile-first approach, in which the mobile site actually takes priority over its desktop version.
4: Are They Reliable?
This one’s pretty straightforward. It’s always a good idea to do your homework before making any purchase to make sure you’re not being scammed. You also want to find out if they’ve worked with clients like yourself in the past. Some agencies focus on specific industries while others offer a more comprehensive and 360° approach. Look for a section on their website that has examples of past work or a list of companies who have used them in the past. If they don’t have a website, well, that’s a whole other story and you’ll do well to steer clear.
5: What Services are Being Offered?
Just because someone says that they can do everything does not mean that they actually can. The first thing to consider is whether they have the ability to do what they’re promising. They may be qualified, but have they actually done it before? At the end of the day you can read and study as much as you want about developing a website, but unless you have actual experience you’ll probably not be as good as someone with a proven track record.
6: Do the Pricing and Services Match Up?
Sometimes common sense can save you a lot of money. A red light should flash in your head if a company is giving you a quote that’s half or twice as much as what other guys are offering. On the one hand, you might be overpaying and no one likes to overpay. On the other, you’re paying less and are not getting the results that you want. Either way you won’t be happy.
7: How Much Time Will It Take?
Knowing the projected amount of time it will take to develop your website is beneficial if you’re paying hourly rates or are under a time constrain. Not only is this important because you might be under a tight schedule, but it also gives you an insight into the quality of their work. There’s always a balance between the amount of work given and the projected time it will take to complete. Website development is usually done in phases and can take months to complete. Don’t go for the company that promises stellar results in record time. Take a look at this article to get an idea of the whole process involved without cutting corners.
8: Do You Want an Original Website or One Built Off a Template?
Go for an original website if adaptability’s important for you. It’ll be more expensive, but it offers more possibilities in terms of company branding and customization. You can tailor it to fit your needs and change it accordingly. Keep in mind that custom built websites are more expensive and take longer to create than opting for a template. If, on the other hand, you’re constrained by time and money, building a website off a template may be better for you. Take a look at this post by Go-Globe if you want a more comprehensive list of pros and cons to both types.
9: What Will the Backend Look Like?
This is very important if you plan on updating your website yourself. A Content management systems (CMS) is part of a website’s backend and will be of use to you if you have little to no coding experience and want the flexibility to control and manage your content without the use of a webmaster. If that hits close to home think about using a CMS platform such as WordPress or one of the ones we covered earlier (Drupal, Magento, Shopify). It all depends on your business though. For some, making incremental changes isn’t very important. For others, especially those who plan on making constant updates, not being in control is simply not an option.
10: Will the Website Be Optimized for SEO?
If you were to do a quick Google search for ‘SEO,’ you would find that there are a little over half-a-billion total results, listed in 10 per page. Think about that for a second and then consider that 75% of Google users never scroll past the first page. Cue the philosophical discussion of a tree not making a sound if it falls in a forest with no one there to listen. As easy as it is to see why SEO is important, you might still be undecided about whether or not to incorporate it into your website. If that’s the case you can always check out the many blog posts out there with advice for getting an SEO agency that’s right for you.
One thing’s for sure, whether or not you decide to launch an SEO campaign, your site should have the building blocks in place in case you decide to move forward with it in the future. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your site is SEO friendly from the start. The same goes for being mobile friendly. It’s one of the considerations you should be making before getting in touch with any web development company. The first step is knowing your business and the second is knowing your options. This means thinking ahead and formulating a plan. Do you see your business growing? Will an original design or a template be better suited for you? What about the backend? After you’ve answered these questions it’s time to weigh your options and choose a company. For this you want to compare reliability, services, pricing and timing. If all goes well you should have a good idea of how you want to proceed. Good luck!