What you need to know when choosing a website designer


Do you need a new website?  Are you confused about how the process works and the options available to you?  In this digital age, every company could benefit from having an online presence.  Some businesses only require a simple information website for potential customers whilst others need the functionality to buy or book online.  There are so many website developers out there it is important that you know what you are getting for your money, not just with the website build itself but the maintenance and aftercare required once completed.  So, what do you need to ask any potential website developer?

Does the quote cover all my requirements?

A quality website developer will take the time to understand your business and ask you important questions regarding the purpose of the website and how it fits into your brand and your business.  Questions such as;  How do you want visitors to your site to perceive you? Who are the people you are trying to reach?  Do you require any advanced features, such as media streaming?  How many pages are required?  Most importantly, what is the main business objective of the website and what actions do you want users to perform on your website?

All these questions will give a website designer the information they need to understand why the website is needed and who you want to attract.  They should then provide you with a realistic quote.  A quote should show you how many pages they will create and the functionality.  You should be able to see straight away if they have covered everything you need and they should provide you with a fixed cost.  Be upfront and clear on your budget from the start.  A good web developer should be able to tell you what is realistic for your budget. 

What platform will my website be built on?

Chances are you know little about the ins and outs of website platforms, that is why you need a website developer!  However, it is important to have some idea of the way your website is built, as this could become an issue in the future.  Most websites are built using Content Management Systems (CMS) These are used to manage the content of the website and should be user friendly enough for you to use to update your website yourself if needed.  There are two main types of CMS, custom built CMS and open source CMS. 

A custom-built CMS means that a website developer has built this platform themselves.  Although it could be said that this means the website can be built around your needs there are several drawbacks with using this type of platform.  We always want our customers to feel in control of their website and with a custom-built CMS you will always remain dependant on the developers of the platform and therefore “locked in” to working with them.  You will be dependent on them for upgrades and any amendments needed.  So, what happens if the company goes out of business?  What happens if you fall out with your web developer over their customer service or their pricing?  Websites built on custom platforms can be extremely difficult to transfer as there is only one company that knows how to do it!

An open source CMS such as Wordpress is open to use for all website developers.  This means that there is a whole community who use it, develop it and improve it.  There is a whole wealth of different functionality that already exists and can be utilised when required.  By using an open source CMS you will not be tied to one web developer and you can find the help you need from a large number of professionals.  There are regular updates and improvements to the platform that would keep your website up to date. 

Who owns my website and domain name?

Your website will of course have a domain name (the URL or link you see in the address bar of your web browser).  This is not a one-off buy and you will need to renew the ‘hire’ of it every few years. You can do this directly yourself, but then you need to remember to renew your registration, or your website development company could do it on your behalf.

If someone else registers your domain name make sure it has been registered in your name. There have been several occasions where companies have come to us to update their website and it is in the name of the previous developer which can cause issues.  Everything should be in your name.

Again, with the hosting of your website, make sure you have control.  Website hosting is like renting a room where your website can live on the internet. Like rent your hosting fee should be paid regularly to keep your website online. You can arrange hosting directly or via a reseller who will often package up hosting with other services such as website backups, virus scans and security updates. When buying ‘hosting’ always make sure you know who you would go to if the website went down and whether back ups of your website are made. Ensure there are proper procedures in place so your web host cannot just switch you off without agreement from you.

The key is to know what you are getting, how it will be managed and who is in control of your website after it is completed.  A good website design agency will be transparent with regard to what they will do, the price  you will pay and the level of control you have on completion.  Ask the right questions to help you create an amazing website that will grow and evolve with your business.

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