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Grow your Small Business with the Right Website Developer

Updated on October 30, 2012
Will you be happy with your final website?
Will you be happy with your final website?

General Considerations for New Websites

Whether you've had one or two dealings with website development, or this is your first attempt… you're no doubt learning what a difficult job it is to find the right small business website designer for you.

While you may believe that designing and developing a website is just a matter of overlaying a 'nice' design on top of a basic template with all the coding, there are many other factors at work.

Considerations include whether you want to encourage interaction from readers, whether you want to utilise e-commerce (e.g. an online bookstore) and if you want to integrate social media, such as a Facebook badge. Maybe you harbour a desire for the website to actually 'pay for itself' in one way or another.

It's really important to let your web developer know all of these objectives before they quote.

Don't Forget the Website's Content

The branding and aesthetics of the site is one biggie that growth business owners are concerned about. Standards are high in these areas, but never neglect the role that information plays. Most people will get frustrated if they cannot find the information about your services/products, or if they cannot understand the content because of insider jargon and long-winded marketing speak.

Having a copywriter or good editor write/edit the website copy and point out reader considerations can actually improve the website's like-ability, or 'stickiness'. A copywriter will take your brief and consider the needs and wants of your target market, intent to create copy that generates a desire to take action, whereas a copy editor will focus on improving the readability, grammar and structure of the content you have written or provided. Experience in these areas really counts for a lot, whereas certificates counts for nothing.

Checking your Keyword Research

Solo Designers or Digitial Agencies?

Whatever the professional spends the most time doing (building up experience) is generally what he/she will be best at. In a digital agency they'll usually have several workers, each with specialist skills, but the total service will cost more (think $3,500 to $7,000 for a non-database site)... the service you get should be fairly top notch, but there's no guarantee. (Employees are often not motivated to go the extra mile that a Developer-Designer is).

Regarding budgets, sometimes it's horses for courses. If you just want a presence for business that looks great, works easily, and is navigable from any device, then do you need to pay extra for individual expertise (and overheads)?

A Developer-Designer (who may outsource some or all of the programming) is a great in-between choice for a growing small business who is one to four years old.

Ensure you can communicate well with him or her, and even if busy, ensure responses are not too delayed past 24 hours in the early stages. If you phone and get an automated response, you know you are not dealing with a small studio or solo developer.

Mobile and Tablet Friendly / Responsive Design

Having a mobile friendly website (also called responsive design) is very good for business.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, e.g. the menu pull-downs are too small, then it may cost you many lost opportunities. While in some industries there is not a lot of visitors completing forms from a smart mobile, often people like to have 'a quick look' to see if they want to go back later when they get home. If it proves too difficult to read your website's content on a small device, a likely prospect will just go to another competitor.

Can your designer build mobile-ready websites, without suggesting a whole new website for this? There are now really affordable ways to make your website mobile-friendly; such as using a WordPress plug-in.

Before you Hire a Developer/Designer

  • Is he/she sales-oriented (pushing the up-sell) or people and goals oriented?
  • Does he/she ask you at least whether you will be able to utilise a CMS (Content Management System) - or is able to provide a simple interactive brochure online affordably, if not needed?
  • Is he/she going to help you integrate your social media and perhaps videos?
  • Can the designer offer responsive design for mobile devices?
  • Have you seen the designer's portfolio… and reviewed the websites you like?
  • Does the developer or studio seem knowledgeable about small business online marketing in general?
  • Will your developer train you on how to use the CMS if you go with WordPress, Joomla, etc?
  • Have you checked the developer's reputation for reliability and good service?
  • Do they provide a professional copywriting and editing service, as an affordable alternative to going direct?


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