We are not a website development and design firm (we direct all our clients to Kayleen at Booyah Creative for that), but we audit, SEO,Â and write website content for our clients’ sites. We teach clients how to use their sites. We even suggest and implement changes to their navigation, sidebars, footers, and functionality. We have helped our clients find the best (brand new) website solution for their small business needs, as well as helped people move to a new content management system (CMS) because their current site wasn’t serving them well.
Over the years of helping clients in all sorts of industries with their small business websites, we’ve found that these 7Â questions are essential to ask any website developer who you plan to hire to build you a new website.
7Â Questions to Ask before (Re)Designing your Website
- Can I make changes without a developer’s help?Â Even if you don’t intend to make changes to your website once it’s live, you still need to have the ability to sign in and update content or add a page. Something as simple as changing your Hours of Operation on your website could mean a charge from your developer if you aren’t put on a website platform (CMS) that makes it easy for non-developers to update. There are lots of website options out there that are easy to use.
- Can it grow with me? Your current website might be a simple, 5-page site that serves you well right now, but that doesn’t mean that your business won’t grow or change, or you won’t implementÂ e-commerce or a business blog. There are plenty of website options out there that can scale with your business.
- Is it mobile-responsive?Â Having a mobile-responsive site was once a “it would be nice”. But, truthfully, it’s now essential. Mobile use is at an all-time high and only keeps growing. Plus, Google will not look kindly on your site if it’s not mobile-friendly.
- Can it be fully optimized for search?Â The SEO capabilities of various website platforms varies greatly! WordPress is excellent for SEO. Others might have full to limited SEO capabilities. Make sure to find out if your new site allows you to customize permalinks, add custom title tags and meta description, ALT tags on images and activate a sitemap. SEO is how people find you online. You don’t want to forgo these capabilities.
- Does it have all the features and functionality I need?Â If you want to sell online, does it offer good e-commerce capabilities? Can you easily add social sharing buttons? Does it have good photo album options so you can properly showcase your work? Don’t start building your website on a platform that doesn’t really meet your needs. There are plenty of options out there; just choose something else.
- Is it user-friendly?Â By this I mean, it is user-friendly for your customers. Can they easily find what they are looking? Is any essential information “hidden” due to creative design elements? Does it play music or video as soon as someone visits your home page? Consider all the reasons why someone might visit your website, and if your design plan doesn’t mesh well, change your design plan.
- What is the annual cost? Yes, there are free website options. And free, easy-to-use website options. But there are always going to be some negatives with “free” including limited functionality, design capabilities, and SEO capabilities. Plus, to pay to host your own website is less than $100 a year. Be sure to weigh your options and compare what you get with free vs. self-hosted before making your decision. At a pretty minimal cost, you can usually greatly increase the potential for your website.
What has your experience been with building a new small business website or redesigning your current one?