If you’re hiring someone to build your website, here are 5 things you should know about the process to make sure your site turns out awesome in a reasonable time frame. Although there’s a lot that goes into building a website from all sides, I’m going to cover things from the client side that can potentially make or break your website build. No sugarcoating included- let’s get started!
1. Know what you need and why you need it
Hopefully, your developer is going to ask questions. A lot of questions. A good way to start out the relationship is to know what you need and why you need it. Not every business owner is an expert on websites, nor should they be, but most have a good idea of what they want to see on their website. If you think you need a FAQ section, ask yourself, why do you need it? Does your industry demand it? Are your customers asking for it? Do you have one currently that you get a lot of your traffic from? If none of those answers are yes, you probably don’t need it. Apply this thinking to all the functionality you think you need. Remember, clean and simple is best for conversion and user experience.
A website is like a menu at a restaurant. Think about how exhausting it is to go to a restaurant with a menu that’s 6 pages long. A lot of people get overwhelmed, and it’s hard for them to decide what to order. The same thing happens with websites. If your homepage is super crowded with information, pictures and choices, people lose interest quickly and don’t do what you want them to, like pick up the phone and call or submit a form. I recommend making a list of all things you think you need on your site, and cutting it at least in half.
2. Provide as much information as you can
The seemingly endless questions from your developer happen for a reason- that is, if you have a good one (if yours goes silent, you might want to make sure they’re still alive and coding in their basement). Skilled developers ask good questions ad nauseam. That’s how they determine what your needs, wants and expectations are for the project and how they plan to be efficient during the website build process. The more information you give them up front, the faster and smoother your project will go, without any major hiccups that affect your budget or timeline. Invest some time in the beginning to clearly communicate your idea of what you need and how you envision it working. You’ll thank yourself later.
3. Trust the process (and your developer)
Of course, this is assuming you’ve found a legitimate, trustworthy developer (and I hope you have). Believe in the process they’ve laid out for you, and in their decision making skills. You hired them for a reason- you trust them to build your website for you. Of course, don’t trust anyone blindly, but as they move along in the beginning of the project they should be showing you that you can trust them by providing clear expectations, communicating regularly, hitting milestones and showing you progress. If that’s not happening, you may want to ask some questions about deliverables and expectations so you can understand where the project is really at. If you’re not getting answers, or if you don’t trust the person building your website, it might be wise to seek out a different developer who you can build a better relationship with.
4. Adjust your expectations
All websites are not created equally. Not to say you can’t get a good website for cheap, but you also (mostly) get what you pay for. Buyer beware of the freelancer who says they can throw up a site in 2 days for 3 grand. You want to ask some questions in order to set your expectations for your website. Is the site going to be custom coded, mobile responsive, and hand drawn to include all the conversion elements that matter most for your business? Will it convey your brand’s story, and encourage potential customers to take action? What is the timeline for your website to be completed? What does your developer expect you to do during the process, and what materials will they need to get started?
The differences between a $3,000 website versus a $13,000 website should be quite drastic. A $13,000 website should be custom, mobile responsive, built for conversion and SEO, with code that meets today’s standards and security protocol built in, not to mention all the branding considerations and thought that went into the design as a whole.
Although two websites can look similar on the surface, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that impacts your investment. Buying a new website is like trading in a car. Get all your ducks in a row before you walk into the dealership and your experience will likely be much better.
5. Be reasonable
There’s an industry term thrown around called “feature creep”. This is the inevitable creep of the original scope of work to include items not originally discussed or agreed upon by both parties. Besides cost margin being a big factor here, the things feature, or scope, creep impacts the most are your client-developer relationship and timelines. Your developer wants to give you something amazing, but if you keep adding to it all the time, it can get frustrating for them to go back and try to add additional features after they’ve planned out the project. Additionally, by adding in new features and content, your website can quickly get crowded and make it more difficult to convert visitors into customers.
If you’re on a strict timeline, be sure to clearly communicate that to your developer before the start of the project, in addition to a list of items you need on your website and why, so an accurate plan for timelines can be made. Creep on the original scope of the project and you’re likely to blow your timelines out of the water and potentially strain the relationship with your developer.
Working with your developer or project manager should be a fun, interesting and rewarding experience, with the end result being a really cool website you’re proud to call yours. These tips can help you have a better experience and hopefully contribute to an even more awesome website in the end. Questions? I love chatting about websites. Hit me up at [email protected] to talk shop.