Building a new website can be a huge task, but you should think of it as a chance to sharpen your image and reevaluate your business.
To help you get started here is a list of the most important questions that you should answer and discuss with your web developer before starting your website.
1. Budget – what can you afford?
The most frequent question people have is: “How much will my website cost?” Sadly, there’s no magic formula. You need to think and determine what your goals are for that particular website and what exact features you need. Some of the features might include a responsive version of the website, e-commerce shopping cart, a newsletter sign-up etc.
When you have those requirements well thought out, then you can start browsing around for different cost estimates from web developers. One thing to keep in mind is that you should be very skeptical of any web developer that gives you just a generic prices straight out without spending time understanding your business and developing a thorough list of features that will align with your requirements.
One thing to keep in mind is that the website is not a one-time expense. Websites need to be updated and have ongoing maintenance costs. This includes monthly domain hosting (which can cost anywhere from $5-50 per month, or even more, depending on the server specs and the amount of your traffic), CMS plugins and their subscriptions (plugins for forms, fighting spam, different buttons, etc.) and SEO fees (most commonly $250-$2,500 per month).
Also, the website represents your online presence and should be considered as a marketing tool that will grow your business and generate revenue, so consider future monthly marketing costs as well.
2. Risk profile – do you have a low or high tolerance for risk?
There are certain risks in building and running a website because the process is usually a substantial money investment. The first thing you need is a domain. You can usually get one for $10 a year, but if you’d like a premium domain (sought-after domains with short and common words) it can cost you a few hundred or thousand dollars.
Next, you’ll need to purchase a hosting which has a monthly fee. If you’re just getting started and won’t have a ton of traffic to your website, then hosting is affordable and it’ll cost $5-50 per month. Website maintenance is something that is optional, but if you’d like a peace of mind and 24/7 monitoring, backups, updates, etc. then expect to pay $250+ per month.
Other costs include marketing such as SEO. It’d be best to contact an SEO professional so you can know if is worth risking money on SEO or if you’d be able to get a return on investment after paying for SEO services.
3. Time – in what time frame do you need the website to be fully finished and online?
Unfortunately, no two websites are the same. The time it takes depends on the size, the functionality of the build, communication etc. Rough estimates to live date can be anywhere from 8-12 weeks, but it can certainly be more.
There are various things that affect the time length, such as client approval times and response, discussions on design and functionality etc. Clear and consistent communication between you and the agency can extremely reduce drag time in between phases.
Client responsibilities can vary and some are more hands-on, while others are more hands-off with each step of the project. At the bare minimum, you should supply brand standards (typography, corporate colours, logo, etc.), and the direction about the website needs. You might get a questionnaire for the directions part.
4. Knowledge – do you understand the different web development processes?
Since web design is an unregulated industry, is important that you are well aware of all the processes so you don’t get ripped off. There are some things to look for when selecting a web developer:
- Do they have a good reputation in their specific market? What are other people saying about them? Do they have plenty of testimonials?
- Have they completed other similar websites to the scope of your project? Does he have documented results?
- Can they provide a list of referrals that would gladly their services?
You should also know the basics of SEO because is likely that you’ll be implementing it on your site. Is a good practice to talk with your potential web developer to see if he is familiar with SEO best practices, and ask him things like, what kind of code they’ll be using to render the major design elements and what would he recommend for the content on the home page.
Also get well familiar with good website practices because there is more than just a good looking website behind the scenes. Some things to look into include responsive design and page loading speed.
5. Skills – what specific web developer role and skills do you need?
When you are looking for a web developer, is important to know that there are several web development roles, and each requires a specific skill set. Let’s take a look at all the roles and what skills they should, at a minimum, be proficient at:
- Back-end developer: this developer builds and maintains the back-end (or server-side) of a web application. This includes the application, server, and the database. The back-end is all about what is invisible to the client and user. Experience in Python, PHP, and SQL is favoured.
- Full-stack developer: the ideal full-stack developer is usually proficient in all stages of web development. He is a one-man army skilled in all skills we listed above, plus others.
- UI developer: this developer is similar to a front-end developer because he or she builds the front end of a website, but puts more emphasis on a design and aesthetics (iconography, typography, and other design principles).
- Graphic designer: he helps you to achieve your visual goals. The good graphic designer must have lots of experience and a design portfolio so you can have an insight into his previous work. Graphic designer that worked on similar projects like yours is a huge plus.
In conclusion, these questions will give you a strong starting point. When speaking with your web developer just keep an open mind because your great idea that looks awesome on paper might not translate well on the web.
Just take advantage of your web developer’s skills to help you make the proper decisions and you’ll be well on your way to creating your perfect website.