February 21, 2014

25 Questions you HAVE to ask your web designer

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Published: 21 February 2014 

If you’re in business, you’ll need a website.

Want to avoid nasty surprises down the road? Make sure you and your web designer are a match made in heaven BEFORE you get started – asking the right questions and understanding the answers is the only way to kick start a successful web project.

To help you out we've compiled 25 Questions To Ask Your Web Designer (and what we’d say if you asked us). There’s a lot to think about so we've broken it up into bite size chunks.

So grab yourself a cuppa and get stuck into the first five right now…

1. Which content management system (CMS) do you use?

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This one is super important. Especially if you want to be able to ‘future proof’ your website and don’t want to be at the mercy of your web designer every time you want to update your content. Keeping your content fresh and relevant has never been more important, so a blog or news section on your website is an absolute must.

Even if you’re not a social media butterfly, it’s imperative you have some social presence and a simple way for your audience to stay in touch with you. Can the CMS your designer uses handle this?
Another thing to consider when you’re choosing your CMS, is how easily you can access and add to the content. You absolutely HAVE to ask yourself; “what would happen if your web designer was no longer around to help?” Would your website be rendered unusable?

Also, what features are available, now and in the future, that will allow integration with other web platforms

Ben says: 

We design websites in WordPress – a 100% customisable and user friendly Content Management System (CMS). We use WordPress because it is user friendly, search engine friendly and flexible, meaning you get the best value for money.

2. Does your web design include SEO?

Okay, to avoid misleading you, the first thing you need to know is that SEO is an ongoing activity, not a one-off product. Our web designer is actively thinking about SEO when building your website.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your websites position in the search engines, and there are lots of best practises that should be followed right from the very beginning.

Is your new website a replacement or upgrade on your current one? One of the biggest and most costly mistakes a web designer can make is not knowing how to migrate from an old version to a new version of a website.

If not done correctly, any previous SEO work or Google rankings, could go out the window. You might have a better looking website now but if you can’t recover your rankings nobody’s going to get to enjoy it.

Nicole says: 

In short – yes. When we create a website for a client, we design it to rank well. If you want continued SEO work you can also choose from our variety of great value SEO packages.

3. Do I own the website completely after I pay you?

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It’s really important that you know where you stand with this. This is something quite different from ongoing services you might want to opt-in to with your web designer.

It’s quite common, and often really convenient, to have your web guys host your website. You can expect to pay anything starting from a few hundred dollars a year for hosting and it is basically your little bit of space on the internet that you ‘rent’ to house your website.

Like keeping your domain name registered, this is always going to be an ongoing cost – BUT you shouldn’t have to keep paying for your website, once it’s up and running. Some web designers build their own CMS and so, technically, they ‘own’ the code.

You can get around this by choosing a CMS that is built in an open-source code – this means that if you wanted to, you could ‘pick up’ your website and take it with you to a new hosting provider or web developer.

Andrew says:

Yes. WordPress is open source so strictly speaking they “own” the code that you use but their licensing means you have full rights to do with it as you wish. For more details have a look at their licensing.

4. Do you do conversion and usability testing?

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Whether you’re a bricks and mortar store that doesn’t sell online, an ecommerce shop that only sells online, or a B2B service, your website will have some measurable goals that you can set.

Those goals could be converting a visitor into a customer, converting a client into a Facebook fan, or converting someone who searched for your service online into a lead.

Basically, in order to know how successful your website is, and how to continually refine and improve it, you need to be tracking, testing and measuring this stuff.

But how do you know what people think of your website?

Well, although you might never ‘meet’ all your visitors, or ask them what they think of your site in person, you can actually get the most honest feedback from your potential and current customers that, as marketers, we've ever had access to.

By looking at things like Bounce Rate – i.e asking if they jumped right out of your website without reading anything, how long they stayed on certain pages, how they moved through your website and how they found you – we can get some real insights. We can see what people like, what they don’t, what stumbling blocks stop them from converting in one way or another and fix it.

Lauren says:

When we build your website, there a few things that you can guarantee we will do before handing the keys over. It goes without saying that we should make sure you know how to ‘drive’ the thing and so all our web clients get training from the developers who built it.

The other absolute must is to make sure Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools have been set up and the code installed in your website.

Without these two tools, you’re pretty much driving blind. Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools give you insights into how Google is crawling your website, how people are finding your website and how they are behaving once they get there. This information, as well as the myriad of other data these tools supply us with, are essential if you want to continually improve the volume of traffic to your site and, ultimately, the volume of business your website generates.

5. What do I need to do?

All it takes is a little miscommunication to throw your timeline into chaos. Make sure you and your web designer have clear expectations of who is responsible for what, and set deadlines that you both agree on.

Are you in charge of supplying images? Or content? Or do you need to approve work at certain stages before it can move forward?

If you’re blissfully unaware that development work has stopped because your designer is waiting on you, you could get a nasty shock when delivery day comes around and it’s not ready. Do yourself a favour and make sure everyone involved starts off, and stays, on the same page.

Lowri says:

We provide clients with a clear checklist. If you’re writing your own website then we will give you a plan – if you want one 🙂 We also direct you and your writer to some excellent resources to make your writing more effective, e.g. this video.

Feeling inspired? Ready to move on with more ideas and questions? Comment below.

Ben Maden

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