When we say “the 411”, we mean it in both directions. The web is how your business will get found by customers. Since we’ve got a web solutions division in our own business, we like to think we’ve got some expertise/intel that will be of value to small businesses looking to put their best foot forward on the interwebz.
When you’re looking for web design and development help, you need to make sure you get what you need the first time. There are few bigger wastes of business time and treasure than a badly-designed and deployed web project. Here’s what we see as the four core questions when you’re in the process of selecting a web development partner:
#1: Do you like their website?
If you don’t like their site – the look and feel, the navigation, the overall information architecture – you probably won’t like what they’d build for you. Would you trust your car to a mechanic who drives a wrecked beater? Same thing goes for selecting a web developer.
#2: Do you like the work they’ve done for other customers?
Even if you love their site, you need to look at their portfolio. What have they done for customers? Is it engaging and easy to navigate? Does it clearly communicate the company’s core brand message, and move potential customers toward buying? They don’t have to have built sites for companies in your industry, but you do need to like their work.
#3: Do you like their sales team?
Whether you’re dealing with a small two-person shop or a large web-development company, you need to be confident that the sales team both understands what their company can offer you, and what your needs really are. If you’re not an uber-geek yourself, either bring in your IT crew or bring along a very tech-savvy colleague to the initial meetings. That way you can find out if they’re more talk than walk.
#4: Do you own the site’s code when it’s delivered?
Don’t get locked in to a site that’s coded in a way that you can’t manage your content easily, or that folds/spindles/mutilates you into a template that makes you look like every other site the company has built. Make sure that your business owns its site – including the code – and that your developer will provide customer service and support after your site goes live, but they don’t try to turn you into a monthly revenue stream for simple site management tasks.