Importance of a Website Developer
A business website is often the gateway to its prospects forming their first impression of the organisation. Choosing the best website developer helps you grab the attention of your potential customers. First impressions always matter and have critical implications in terms of final business outcomes.
With human attention spans dwindling to levels lower than a goldfish, a website must be well endowed in terms of being both attractive and functional to attract and retain its targeted visitors.
What Make a Good Website?
Good websites are not just visually appealing but are also intuitive and easy to navigate for their visitors. Needless to say, unless the website performs well on the SERP, it can hardly gather any organic traffic.
However, good websites strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality with well-executed backend technicalities. The best websites come as a balance of all these, combined with powerful messaging to compel people to visit and register themselves as qualified leads.
Moreover, realising the advantages of owning a website or ensuring that the existing one lives up to the modern standards, almost all businesses, including startups, desire to own good virtual real estate.
If you are looking to build or revamp your existing website, it’s understandable if you’re confused whether to pick a DIY theme, go to a freelancer, or spend what it takes to hire an established company.
DIY Themes vs Freelancers vs Website Development Companies
While it’s most tempting to pick DIY themes or freelancers due to their apparent cost advantages, choosing a company to execute the job is most often the right decision from a long-term viewpoint.
Here’s a comparison to help you make the optimal choice –
I. Choosing DIY Themes
DIY themes are essentially set templates that allow customisation only to a limited extent. Moreover, with only taking care of layout, the other aspects such as content, designs, etc., increase your work burden extensively, which more than makes up for the saved money by consuming a lot of time.
II. Choosing Freelancers
These limitations get reduced with a freelancer. However, even they aren’t experts to handle all aspects in the lengthy process of building a website, spanning development, design, content, etc. In that sense, companies are best equipped to take care of all the stages with the requisite expertise.
III. Choosing a Website Development Company
Additionally, since the website is the first step towards online presence, with ancillary procedures such as SEO and online marketing to follow, having a single destination to take care of it all right from the start makes it efficient and economical both with a pre-agreed package. Moreover, a company with good knowledge can implement an SEO-optimized code right from the start, laying an optimal foundation for your web presence.
10 Things You Must Check Before Choosing Website Developers In Australia
Here’s a checklist to follow before you hire a website developer for your business:
1. Check Their Service Area
The foremost thing you should check is the company’s service area, and you must know which part of the industry they majorly serve, like startups, SMEs, and large organisations.
Being a startup, SME, or other, you should hire a web developer who has extensive experience in an industry similar to your niche.
What’s needed in the website of a small business or a startup is entirely different from what is required in a big and established company. The type of functionality, features and even the design presuppose a different approach.
Additionally, you also need to check if they understand your niche and can create something meaningful for your targeted user persona.
Naturally, the strategic approach, appropriate CMS, and expertise needed for a fashion e-commerce store would be very different from a B2B information-oriented website, and it’s essential to pick the company that understands these differences. Only then can they successfully design a website that is a real lead magnet for you?
Hence, before finalising, you must check the company’s service area and pick one whose expertise overlaps with your requirements.
An excellent place to ascertain that is by scanning their portfolio and gathering a real insight into their clientele. Discussing with their business development executives about their past client concentration and starting ideas about building your website also helps to gauge this.
2. Understand Their Level Of Expertise
With the long-term investment angle in your business website, you must make sure that you’re trusting only an expert to generate the highest returns over time.
Often, impressive salespeople make their companies sound like your best choice, but their website gives away the truth. It’s advisable to examine the messaging on the commercial pages of their website to ascertain their expertise.
However, you may review if their approach is based on psychology-backed strategies and execution as per the latest standards. Additionally, you could also examine their blogs to assess their domain expertise, for true thought leaders in any industry never shy away from sharing the depths of their knowledge.
Make sure whichever platforms and technology they showcase, they should have specialised and dedicated teams to work on these.
If you already have a specific platform in mind for your web development project, check their respective landing page based on such a platform. The most preferred platforms include WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento.
3. Assess Their Dependability
Once you feel sorted about the specialisation and expertise, the next step is to ensure they’re reliable. After all, the company must be dependable to be delegated to your business projects.
Understand it by looking for the information on their website on the number of years of operation, existing client base, and the depth of their portfolio.
You can do a quick Google search to learn about their reputation in the region. You may check out their company reviews, go through recent testimonials and examine their social media handles.
Most people often narrow down the companies they approach based on the references they get from their networks. However, a more reliable approach is by looking through the reviews and ratings, whether they’ve received awards or recognition for their work.
4. Ensure They Have Transparent Processes
In order to build a good and optimized website, there is a specific mechanism that must be followed, such as planning a strategy, developing the intent-based aesthetics and messaging, executing the backend, coding, testing and so on.
When choosing your web developer, you must learn about the details of the processes they follow. You can check their website for this information or ask for brochures or ebooks.
Going through the brochure is very helpful in providing you with all the information you need in a single place to quickly understand their overall brand, expertise, reliability, and processes.
5. Engage In Face-to-Face Sessions
While it can get tempting to outsource your website work to freelancing portals or overseas locations with clear cost advantages and not needing to meet or talk except a few times via messages.
Although, it’s much beneficial to go for the ones with whom you can have a face-to-face conversation at a physical location.
In a workshop arrangement, honest discussions help define the scope of your project and its specific requirements in detail. So, don’t hesitate to ask for a workshop.
In such meetings, you can ask for –
1. Details on their intended strategy to attract visitors and engage those visitors on your website.
2. Learning about their lead generation plan for the website and its actual measurement & analysis process also helps gather a good idea of their level of thoroughness.
This way, by discussing all these things at length, you can successfully ascertain if their service will add value to your business and improve your revenue models or not.
You may also judge the company and its representatives by the type of questions they ask you about your business to recommend your website specifications and how they run you through their existing portfolio or explain their starting ideas.
6. Ensure They Meet the Timelines For Each Milestone
If you don’t have your project delivered at the right time, it calls for losses in terms of missed-out business opportunities.
It’s best to ensure that the company is accountable in terms of the deadlines it proposes and is asking for a turnaround time suitable for you.
In order to avoid delays, it’s best to work with one who is willing to define timelines for each milestone and keep you in the loop at all times.
This has the additional advantage of ensuring that they’re accountable for following all the proper steps.
7. Look For Transparency In Cost
The cost of building a website varies wildly, depending on the developer’s expertise, experience, and also the level of customization your project requires. While using pre-set themes is highly economical, customization comes with its advantages and proportional costs.
Moreover, when you build your website on a budget, it’s essential to make sure that you don’t cut out on the features you need and end up compromising where it matters since it is a long-term investment.
In order to ensure your project doesn’t overshoot the initially agreed commercial with the company, it’s good to hire one that actually helps you pick the right features needed for your website right from the start and is also transparent with all the associated costs.
These days, some web development companies often provide their potential customers with a cost calculator on their website to keep the pricing transparent with no unpleasant surprises unrolling later in the form of hidden costs. You must look out and explore such features.
8. Ensure They Use Effective Communication Channels
During the development process of a website, different iterations are introduced from what was discussed in the first meeting.
Even if there aren’t iterations, continuous back and forth interaction is needed to fixate aesthetics and content. This calls for seamless communication and task management.
However, good project management tools ensure that the primary concerns are not missed out or are subject to unnecessary communication gaps.
You must ask your developer if they have any measures in the form of popular and easy-to-use tools such as Slack, Trello, Jira, Skype, and many more to ensure that your project is smoothly executed with uninterrupted communication at all times.
9. Check For Support And Maintenance Plans
Managing and maintaining any website calls for support services for many of its functionalities over the long term. These could be about your e-commerce set-up or renewing your domain and hosting, or personalized email accounts.
However, while choosing one’s web design company, it’s vital to pick one that offers genuine support on an ongoing basis.
Without good after-sales support, one can end up in a fix with the need of hiring an additional external developer that calls for unnecessary charges of its own. Besides the cost, the extra time it takes to get these things in order can get highly obnoxious.
Hence the support aspect is critical, and whichever company you choose must be accountable for predefined support and maintenance for at least a few months in their initial contract.
In fact, one of the biggest reasons why it is advisable to go for a company over a freelancer is that freelancers tend to avoid the support part once their project is completed.
They usually work on a few projects at a time, and reworking on completed projects turns out to be financially unviable for them. This makes it very hassling for the website owner to manage their website in the long term.
10. Ensure You Get Complete Ownership Of your Website
You must make sure that the company hands over the complete website ownership to you. Often, some small changes need to be made after a few months of your website launch, which can be executed internally. For instance, changing the content on some of the pages after support has expired.
In those cases, having to pay additional charges for small tasks frequently makes no sense. Alternatively, if you need to change your website developing partner in the future, your needs may not be big enough to require a revamp from scratch.
Hence, to ensure that you’re not forced to depend on that company in the future, it’s best to confirm in advance if they hand over the essential login credentials and the source code for the website.
Some other things to consider if you’re planning to build a specific revenue stream through your website:
The decision to pick a web developer for your company website is essential and requires some careful deliberation. After all, a website is a long-term investment to generate leads and build a particular revenue stream for your business.
If you are into a business that will need allied service moving forward in the form of SEO, SMM and so on, it’s best to work and establish working comfort with a one-stop company right from the start.
Moreover, to pick the optimal developer for your business, it’s good first to narrow down your needs and a reasonable timeline.
It’s good to approach companies who are experts in designing websites for your business niche and are ready to work on a reasonable budget.
What Questions Should I Ask my Web Developer?
Please ask for the following must-have features from your web developer before actually starting your project:
1. Automated Malware Scan – Need to have the website scanned for malware automatically each day. If an issue is found, an email should be sent with the details.
2. Google reCAPTCHA – Protect your site against spammers.
3. User Action Logging – The website needs to track and keep logs when users to edit content, login or log out.
i. Brute Force Protection – Limit the number of failed login attempts allowed per user. If someone is trying to guess your password, they’ll get locked out after a few attempts.
ii. File Change Detection – Get email alerts showing any recent file changes, so you know if you’ve been hacked.
iii. 404 Detection – If a bot is scanning your site for vulnerabilities, it will generate a lot of 404 errors. A website should lockout that IP after the limit you set.
4. Two-factor authentication – The website should have two-factor authentication enabled to ensure security.
5. WordPress file directory access for the public should be prevented.
6. Wp-Config file must be protected.
SEO & Marketing:
1. Only one H1 tag on each page with relevant keywords
2. Ensure H2 tag with relevant keywords
3. All images should have alt text with relevant keywords
4. XML Sitemap should be enabled
5. The robots.txt file should be present and enabled.
6. Images should be compressed and optimised.
7. Google Search Console tool needs to be integrated
8. Meta titles need to be only 55 characters long.
9. Social Media Integration must be done correctly.
10. Google Remarketing must be enabled during the initial phase.
1. Ask for a separate development and live environment setup.
2. Ask for complete visibility of website progress in real-time.
3. Wireframes need to be developed and approved by the <Company Name> team
4. Mockups need to be developed and approved by the <Company Name> team
5. Ability for the UpStart team to provide feedback on the staging website via screengrab tool
1. Use of only 4+ star plugins
2. The code needs to be correctly commented
3. No editing in WordPress core files
4. Functional testing
5. UI testing
6. Database testing
7. Cross-browser testing
8. Security testing
9. The website should achieve a Google Speed Score of at least 70.
However, if you’re located in Australia, you must approach a reliable and accountable company based in Australia itself to gain the advantage of having face-to-face discussions for the best outcomes in terms of strategy and planning.