Almost everybody has been there before (and if you haven’t, you probably know someone who has)—you’ve hired a web developer to build a site for your business, you’re three months into the project, and frustrations are running high. We hear stories like this all the time. Maybe your web developer has become unresponsive. Maybe they’ve promised to deliver a site by a specific date but haven’t followed through. Or maybe your site is already launched, but now it’s malfunctioning or causing security issues.
None of these situations are ideal, but the good news is you can avoid all of them by asking the right questions. We’ve put together a list of the top 11 questions you should always ask your web developer before signing that contract sitting in your inbox.
1. What is your process for building a website?
You web developer’s process can be one of the most telling pieces of information you receive before getting started. Not only is it great to know what each step of the process will be, but how your developer talks about their work method says a lot about the quality of service you’ll receive.
Look for a developer who provides a list of deliverables, each with their own due date. If the only deadline for the project is the site’s launch date, chances are that their communication and reliability are faulty.
2. What web standards do you follow?
This is a question that will quickly separate the professionals from the less reliable. Web standards most commonly refer to the best practices used for building websites. Whether your developer complies with the W3C standards, the WHATWG standards, or the Unicode standards, the overall intention of these organizations is to ensure that websites are compatible across browsers and devices. A web developer who stumbles at this question is one who likely won’t focus on creating a long-lasting website.
3. How easy will it be to integrate additional features/functionality in the future?
Even if you don’t plan to add additional features to your website, asking about the possibilities opens up an opportunity for you to get answers to other questions. If you don’t already know what platform they plan to use for building your website, this is a good time to ask your web developer. For most small business sites, WordPress is the best platform for a new website. More than 18% of all websites are WordPress websites, no doubt due in part to its expandability. Virtually any feature or functionality can be integrated into WordPress, which makes it a great place to build a stunning web presence, even if you want to start with a simple site.
Developers who build websites in other platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, or WebsiteBuilder are limited by constrained functionality. One of these platforms may be a great fit for you now, but as your business grows, you will most likely outgrow them. Starting in a flexible platform will ensure that adding additional features and functionality in the future is possible.
4. Will the site be mobile-friendly?
We know, we know, this seems like a question with such an obvious answer. It’s 2017, after all—who doesn’t build mobile-friendly sites? Unfortunately, an estimated 23% of websites in 2016 were not mobile friendly, and new non-mobile-friendly websites are built every day. Google even favors mobile-friendly websites, so it’s imperative that you assume your developer is keeping up with current trends. Ask your web developer just to be safe.
5. Are there any additional fees to build/maintain my website outside of your cost?
Many website platforms and third-party software (such as shopping cart plugins and advanced contact forms) require monthly or annual subscriptions that will be billed to you. In addition, all websites require an annual domain renewal and a cost for web hosting. It’s good to know what additional fees are not included in your developer’s budget.
6. Who will host the website/own the domain name?
Speaking of recurring costs, web hosting is a detail that developers commonly fail to discuss in their proposal. Many web developers sell managed hosting services directly to their clients at an overpriced monthly rate. Typically, this is an optional add-on to your website agreement, but many developers require that your site has to be hosted/managed by them. Seems backwards that someone else would own your site, right?
7. What search engine optimization (SEO) will be integrated?
Search engine optimization is undeniably something every website needs to have. Many developers will claim to optimize your website after development, but the definition of a fully optimized site is different for everybody. Ask your web developer for specific details regarding what SEO is being integrated. Is your developer adding appropriate HTML tags? Are they optimizing content for readability? Will they research the right keywords and use them appropriately? The more information you can get here, the better.
8. What security features will be included in the development?
With some of the largest cyber security attacks in history happening in 2016, the security of your website is more important than ever. More than 40% of cyber attacks target small businesses. While you may not be hosting sensitive information on your website, a cyber attack can cost you thousands of dollars in website repairs and recovery. Fortunately, simple security measures can prevent your business from falling susceptible to such attacks. So be sure to ask your web developer what they’re doing to secure your site.
9. How will my site analytics and traffic be tracked?
Website analytics are a powerful tool to measuring how people use your website and determining what content is most engaging. Site analytics are easily integrated into websites nowadays, so it’s something that should come as a standard with any newly built site.
10. Will you keep a backup of my site?
Very few web developers guarantee site backups without establishing a monthly service agreement. However, asking for a one-time backup of your site after it is launched is a great way to ensure that your investment is never lost. Regardless the cause, site loss is a risk every small business faces. Don’t allow the only copy of your website to be the one that’s live. If your site does go down, a backup can be restored within hours and get your online presence back to normal.
11. Do you offer technical support/training after the project is over, and how much does it cost?
One of the number one complaints we hear from small business owners regarding their website is that they don’t know how to make updates to it as their business changes. Many web developers now offer training, as an inclusion to website projects, on how to make minor changes. Ask about whether your developer plans to include this and how much ongoing support will cost in the future.
Investing in a new website is a big undertaking. It’s a commitment on your part that affects your finances, your schedule, and the growth potential of your business. But going through the process of purchasing and building a new website does not have to be a headache. Taking the time to ask these simple questions can help ensure that your new website is a worthy investment that will last as long as possible.
Then again, maybe we’re biased in favor of beautiful websites that don’t break the bank. If you’re interested in a website redesign without a headache, we’re happy to answer any of these and other questions you may have. We’re a fan of small businesses, and yours is no different.
By now we’re sure your Newsfeed has been flooded with everyone’s renewed sense of change and organized plans to make this new year “better than ever.” In our fast-paced society, appointments get pushed back, we begin spending less time at home than we’d like, and throughout our days and nights we get Calendar reminders, phone notifications, and emails telling us to juggle it all right now, because that’s why we did it on our own in the first place. To prove that we can pave the way ourselves.
As business professionals, we’re accustomed to curveballs and how to best adapt to them. It’s our playing field. Admittedly, when we’re each balancing different projects at the Tangible office, we sometimes get so lost in trying to complete our own checklists that it becomes easy to get swamped. However, we find our focus again by pausing and asking each other for help when we need it most. We like to keep this same group mentality when we host GVL Connect, our networking series. We’ve found that the best connections and the best creations we’ve made have been from maintaining our relationships. We’ve outlined three key steps to strengthening your networking in the future.
Your next networking venture can be a transformative experience as long as you bear this in mind: Don’t simply take, the key is to give back.
1. Share, Retweet & Repeat
If you’ve just gone to your first networking event or you’re a seasoned guest, chances are there’s been a time where you’ve felt uncomfortable and you couldn’t find anyone that could answer all your questions in one sitting, in one night. Instead of networking to only serve you, try thinking of who all is attending. Perhaps it’s an interior designer, the cafe owner down the block whose posts you always share, or even someone in your field that just started to build their social media presence and could use some tips from like-minded colleagues. One of the easiest ways to grow your presence and show support for your fellow professionals is to try sharing their posts/blogs/tweets on your business or personal accounts. Think of it as a way of saying ‘hi’ with a quick nudge, so everyone knows you’re always open for connecting. In return, you’d be surprised at how much your networking approachability goes up just through a simple like or share.
Of course, your main focus should remain in keeping the genuine relationships you make with your clients. With practice, you’ll see how transparency and open communication in networking is integral to maintaining loyal partnerships. You don’t want to stand talking to someone who’s only going to “sell, sell, sell” you on themselves and not offer to hear your story or seek your knowledge. You also don’t want to narrow your target audience to just your field of work. There are opportunities to help you personally and professionally on every social platform, as long as you keep your eyes open. Strike a conversation on common interests and what you both can do to increase your online presence, together. The regrams and networking invites will soon follow.
2. Build Your Networking Cloud
After you’ve left the networking space for the night, take some time to peruse through the business cards and mailers you received. And follow up with everybody. Depending on what topic the event focused on, it’s almost always a certainty that all who attended work in a variety of fields. Like we mentioned before, connecting with other professionals in different areas of work serves to extend your skill-set in the long run. Yes, creating these connections is one of the best ways to expand upon your brand. Are you needing help with buying a home? Or maybe your logo could use some fine-tuning. (Hopefully by now, you know who to call—sorrynotsorry for the shameless self-promotion plug.)
If you find yourself feeling like the evening was a little lackluster, ask yourself: while networking, are you only searching within your comfort group or judging the “relevancy” of your conversations to your interests? This is the best form of self-sabotage and will gain you no allies or followers. Step outside your box and offer what you know and how your services can help them. We know this for sure: eye-catching email blasts and salesy phone calls will only get you so far, but true interest and honesty will always boost your brand further than any other effort.
3. Be a Student and a Mentor
During your next meeting with a client or even someone you connected with from the event, be sure to be as present and “off-screen” as possible. Your time and undivided attention will always be noticed and rewarded. Technology pushes us all to be fast and concise, but find clarity in face-to-face interactions where you’ll have the chance to ask as many questions as possible. Here’s where the magic happens that you can’t find in a website bio. Listening to the personal quirks and stories behind a business or business owner is absolutely crucial in becoming a better networker. By understanding their personal message, you’ll find opportunities to provide them with suggestions on how to best increase their client market and presence based on your own personal experience. This is a true service to those interacting with you, and by default ups your status and credibility.
By being present (both physically and mentally) at networking events, you will find yourself learning more and better help those around you learn. Think of this as an opportunity to play the role of both the student and the mentor, being humble enough to learn in areas you’re less familiar with and being generous enough to offer insight in areas you’re more familiar with.
The value of your craft is in your helping hands. Be sure to be willing to share advice as much as you’d like to take away advice. Your networking opportunities will not only widen, but your brand’s reputation overall will inspire others to maintain the same level of authenticity.
Being strategic in how you choose your interactions during a network event is important but it’s more beneficial to build upon those encounters and turn them into meaningful relationships. In the end, it’s about how you carry yourself and your skills socially. Do this simply by smiling and being enjoyable company all around without attempting to hijack every conversation. Should a situation arise where your expertise is called for, be friendly and more than willing to offer your help. By lending a hand to everyone that you come across, you’ll have gained a genuine support group of likeminded professionals that will be happy to assist you in the future.
If you’d like to hone your networking skills further, come join us during our next GVL Connect event. You can follow along and keep updated with our upcoming events on our Facebook page.
Heads up: We’re always available for personal consultations if needed to help your business be ahead of the rest. Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to schedule a meeting.