There are many factors that go into choosing your next web development company and we hear many horror stories from businesses about website builds. So I thought we would just call it out and pass on what I hope are some helpful tips in choosing the right website developer/firm for your website.
First off, there are several types of websites. There is the first time website, the website redesign, the website refresh and there are also different sizes of sites.
First Time Website: This are often the hardest because it means we are building everything from the ground up. Usually these websites are around 7-10 pages and require additional items like purchasing a domain and getting set up for hosting. One of the hardest parts about a first time website is putting together all of the content. By content I mean all of the photos, text, contact information etc. More often than not, this is where most websites gets bogged down, writing the text for a site. We recommend that every website has text that is professionally written for several reasons:
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever evolving science of which words to use when, where and how often. Having your content professionally written ensures that you are getting the most out of the website you are investing in.
- Conversational: More and more it is important to be approachable and conversational in our communication online. Sometimes that can be a challenge for business owners when we want to get specific and “talk shop” about what it is we do.
- Time: You have a business to run and more often than not, there isn’t time to write the content yourself. You are investing money into your website and the last thing you want is to have the whole process held up waiting on text.
Website Redesign: In this category we are assuming you already have a website, but it may be outdated. Websites become outdated very quickly in our changing world but it could also mean that something has changed within your business. Usually this is a complete redesign including new photos, text, and design though some elements may move over from one site to the other. In our experience these sites are often a bit larger and more developed because as the business owner you have had a chance to see what is working and what is not.
A website refresh should happen every 1-2 years and usually involves:
- Updating for new technology
- New design to meet emerging trends
- Updated content for better user experience and Goggle rankings
- New security measures
- Taking advantage of new options in SEO and content marketing
Regardless of wether you need a brand new website, a website redesign or just a refresh, making sure you hire the right company is absolutely crucial. There are a variety of options including the solo developer, the offshore team, and professional agencies (either small or large).
Both the solo developer and the offshore team often charge by the hour to complete a project and that rate is based on their overhead. An offshore web company may charge anywhere from $10 – $40/hr while a solo web developer in the US is typically charging between $25 – $100/hr. Especially if you are just getting your company started, these prices may look very, very good to you, but there are some challenges involved with both the sole developer and the offshore team.
To develop a truly successful website there are several specific disciplines that need to be involved and it is almost impossible to find all of these in one person:
- User Experience Design
- Visual Design
- Project Management
- Quality Content (text) Creation
The challenges with offshore teams often include communication through potential language barriers and time differences. Also, do they understand your business goals? Will they be able to design for your market? We believe hiring a professional agency is the best “bang for your buck”. We provide a whole team of professionals to ensure you get the best in design, content creation, coding, SEO, even photography. At BEACON you also have your own account manager what will walk through the entire process from start to finish with you.
Regardless of which route you take, we highly recommend businesses put together a document covering what they want in their website. It doesn’t have to be a long document, usually about one to two pages is enough. It should cover what style of website you want (modern, traditional, colorful, classic, etc.), which pages are crucial to the site (About Us, Services, Portfolio, Staff, Contact Us, etc.), and any goals for the site (inform, collect leads, educate, connect with clients, e-commerce, etc.). A very helpful piece to include in the document are examples of other websites you like and what you like about them. For instance, is it the way the colors are combined, the layout, or maybe the navigation that appeals to you? Using this document when you approach the web developer will help both you and them start on the same page. It is a great tool to help you get more consistent estimates from company to company, and a company worth hiring should be asking these questions and more.
We would be happy to sit down and discuss these questions and more. If you are interested in some of the websites we have already done, please check out our portfolio page, then give us a call at 907-563-6008 or drop us an email. We would love to hear from you.