20 questions to ask your web developer
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your website or have one built from scratch, ask your web developer these questions to ensure your money is well spent.
Getting your business website developed is an exciting time, but all too often I hear of new business owners getting short changed by web developers who don’t deliver a quality product, or who charge too much. Much of the problem is due to the fact business owners don’t know the right questions to ask or what to look for when having a website developed.
Here is my list of must-ask questions for your web developer that will help you judge a good quote or web vendor from a really bad one.
- Is it a site that you can easily update yourself? This is called a CMS or content management system. Ask if you can have a demonstration of how the back end of the site works so you can gauge how easy it is to upload an image, link and text. If you can’t edit the site yourself you might end up paying through the nose every time you need a change. Also, check if you can edit text using a word processing interface (which is easier), or if it only allows for html.
- Is the site a template or custom built? This is important depending on the design and the complexity of your site navigation. A template-driven site is fine for most small businesses, but some need a special layout and navigation to work best
- What sites have they done recently for similar businesses? This will give you an idea as to whether they know the sort of thing you need, and whether they’re au fait with best practices.
- Who will host the website? And are there one-off fees, monthly charges or maintenance fees?
- Will the host be here or overseas? This will affect the speed and security of your site. US servers I have found to be less reliable and slower to forward email enquiries than local servers.
- Is the site backed up? It’s essential that your site is backed up on a server every week so you don’t lose critical data if a problem occurs(e.g. if it’s hacked into).
- What are the support and training costs? Are these within your budget?
- Will they be responsible for the artwork and creative or is that something you have to take care of? Will they upload the foundation text and images?
- How long will it take for the site to go live? Most developers will say six to eight weeks from when they gather all the materials.
- Can they provide a timetable of milestones for each stage of development? This will help you keep track of their progress.
- What is the cost of initial search engine optimisation(SEO) and for ongoing SEO?
- Can they build email capability into the site and provide analytics for the database? This will assist in capturing and evaluating data.
- Will Google Analyticsbe running on the site and will stats be available on the website’s dashboard? Google Analytics show web traffic and conversion statistics, so you can gauge how well your site is doing.
- Will there be an extra cost to add pages down the track?
- Can they add social mediaicons to the site? This is essential to allow visitors to share your content.
- Can they add custom forms for capturing information and does this feed into the database on the site?
- Which areas are changeable and which are static? Are you happy with not being able to change the static areas?
- How will images be managed in the back end? Is there a gallery? Make sure you know how to use it.
- Do you want your home page to include web banners? These might be occupied by your own ads, Google Ads, or other advertisements.
- Can they integrate a blog or news feed (RSS)? These are central to any content marketing strategy.
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With these questions, you’ll more likely get a website that not only meets your needs, but stays within your budget.
"How long will it take for the site to go live? Most developers will say six to eight weeks from when they gather all the materials."
What other questions would you ask a web developer before hiring them to build your site?