Website development has become big business in today’s digitally driven world.
Now more than ever, it’s critical for organisations to have an online presence. Not having a digital identity could put your company’s growth at risk in what is now a majorly cut throat, competitive landscape.
Websites are in such demand that many have jumped on the bandwagon to capitalise on this rapid growth. From one-man bands to large organisations, web development companies are now a dime a dozen.
This expansion has its pluses and minuses for those wanting to either create a brand spanking new website or update their existing one. The bonus to this growth spurt means that you’ll be spoilt for choice. The downside is that, if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of how website development works, you could be taken for a ride.
Like anything in life, you pay for what you get. And in some cases, you may be none the wiser that you’re actually paying premium dollar and not receiving the equivalent service.
Having a better understanding of the things you should be steering away from, will give you a greater chance of selecting the right web development company for your project.
You don’t need to understand all the technical jargon, be an SEO expert or know how to code a website. But you do need to have an overall understanding of the process in order to get a good result.
The more involvement you have in the process, the better the end product will be. Making sure that you approach the project with a sense of collaboration, rather than a one-sided approach. Your input is essential to creating a website that compliments your business operations.
It shouldn’t sit on the sidelines; it should be a core part of your business.
Get a better understanding of the things you should be avoiding in order to ensure that it becomes the digital extension of your operations.
Here are 5 mistakes to avoid when looking for a web development company:
1. Not Showing Genuine Interest
There’s a vast difference in the result that comes from a website developer who has truly taken the time to find out about the ins and outs of your business, and one who hasn’t.
Things like your target market and their buying habits; where you currently sit in your industry and where you’d like to be; your unique selling points, the features and benefits of your products/services, where you aim to be in 12 months as a business etc. all have an effect on your website design, and how it should operate now and into the future.
The nature of website development is technical, which often results in a misunderstanding of the intimacy between your business and the end user’s needs. It takes not only a website developer but a person with a marketing understanding to fully craft that relationship into a digital form that speaks directly to an audience.
While surface-level elements are essential, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Any developer can ask how many pages you need, what services you offer, how many customers you have etc., but this purely forms the basis of what a great website is all about.
Having a visually appealing website is one thing, having one that leads your visitors down the buyer journey is another.
If you’re engaging with a web development company and they’re not asking about what makes your business tick, then that’s a red flag. An experienced web developer will ask the right questions to get the answers they need to create a website that will ultimately improve your bottom line.
Many people don’t fully comprehend the time and effort it takes to build a website. It doesn’t involve a quick brief, and then voila! You have a well-functioning website. Creating a website is an intimate partnership between yourself and the developer that requires a whole lot of input, as well as commitment, from your end.
There’s no one that knows your business and your customers like you do, so you should be the guiding force when it comes to your website creation. You’ll also need to be open, honest and attentive to ensure that you’re giving the developer the information they need in a timely fashion.
When you start canvassing for a website development company, you’ll quickly be able to determine if they’re just trying to sell you a flashy site, or whether they genuinely care about creating a website that’s perfectly suited to your business. The latter will produce an end product that’ll give you a much better return on investment.
Essentially, the more interested they are in you and your business, the better. Having insights into your business operations will give them the ability to produce a website that’s perfectly suited to your current and future operations.
2. Budget Blowouts
If a website developer hasn’t taken the time to fully understand your business, then they won’t have the critical elements they need to create the website you want.
Not taking the time to get to know your business in its current form, as well as the potential future structure, brings with it may issues. Ultimately, you could end up with a website that doesn’t work for your current business operations or one that won’t work for you down the track.
If a website developer doesn’t fully understand your goals at the start, then you’re guaranteed to experience challenges down the track.
This can be an expensive exercise. You may experience a budget blowout for add ons or re-work that weren’t originally quoted for.
Changes, additions and unexpected delays all cost money, adding to the final bill.
To avoid a budget blowout, ensure that you know exactly what you want to achieve before you even start the conversation. Clearly communicate your goals, and ensure that those goals align with what your developer is proposing.
It should be a discussion where both parties contribute, rather than a one-way conversation. If the initial conversation feels more like a sales pitch rather than an examination of your needs, then move on.
3. SEO Fail
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it’s widely known, can be challenging to wrap your head around if you don’t have much knowledge of it. However, there are some key things that should be coming up in your conversations.
Search engines like Google look at a website through a technical lens; they have no interest in the appearance.
Many website designers focus mainly on the layout, while not taking the time to ensure it’s SEO optimised. If your website isn’t SEO optimised then it most likely won’t rank anywhere near the top of the list. What does that mean for you? You’ll be missing out on an enormous portion of potential customers.
Most platform hosted websites will have naturally optimised site structures, but if you’re planning on getting a custom-built website created then you’ll need to ensure that your developer thinks about things like your folder/directory structure, site map and HTML readability. As well as other SEO elements like keywords, content, page speed and more.
While these terms may sound like jargon, if they haven’t been mentioned at all then that could be a warning sign.
You don’t need to understand the technical side of SEO, but you need to ensure that your developer is incorporating it into every aspect of your site structure so your website has a strong SEO foundation.
A great website developer will advise you how they plan to fully optimise your site for SEO, rather than you having to ask how they intend to do it.
4. Focus Purely On Frills
Fancy graphics with no solid conversion benefit mean that while your website will look great, it won’t generate the sales it should.
Having a great looking website is essential. Modern design trends need to be considered in order to make your site appealing to your audience, and make your business stand out from the crowd. But fancy frills should be the cherry on the top, not the core focus.
If the conversation tends to veer towards surface-level aspects like design, visuals, layout, then this means your developer isn’t delving into the total user experience.
Leading each visitor down the buyer journey is essential to ensuring that you take advantage of every opportunity. Optimising the user experience is an essential part of converting, and only skilled developers can incorporate this into a website’s design.
Looking at the bigger picture, rather than the individual parts takes a certain level of experience. If your discussions are only focusing on the nitty gritty, then your website developer isn’t looking at the website from strategic perspective.
Fancy frills can only take you so far, if they don’t convert.
They won’t give you the competitive edge you need in order to attract and retain customers. Today’s consumers are savvy, they’ll only be loyal to companies that continuously show them they’re valued. Their needs need to consistently be met, and if they aren’t, they’ll quickly find another business that does fulfil those needs.
Meeting those needs may be easy to do in person, but it’s more of a challenge when it’s done digitally. Creating a website that consistently meets those needs, and tells your customers that they’re valued, takes skill.
5. No Post-Launch Plan
Creating a website is only one part of the puzzle. Maintaining a website is just as crucial, or even more crucial, than the creation itself.
Having a developer at your disposal during the build stage is fantastic. However, if they disappear into the ether the minute the website is launched, you’re guaranteed to experience major issues down the track.
When you’re looking for a website development company, one of the first enquiries that you should make is around the ongoing support they offer.
If their approach is hands off once the website has been created, then I’d reconsider.
Technology is great when it works, but what happens when it doesn’t? Potential customers won’t have the ability to purchase your goods or services i.e. your bottom line suffers.
You need to think in terms of the worst-case scenario. What happens if your website totally crashes at a critical time? Do you have the know-how to get it up and running? If you don’t, then you’ll need a company that can provide you with the ongoing support that you may need.
Post-launch costs are a key part of the overall costs of a website. When you’re budgeting, you shouldn’t just be considering the initial fee to create the website, you should be incorporating the ongoing maintenance costs too. This will allow you to realistically calculate your return on investment.
While investing initially will give you better results down the track, custom web design doesn’t have to cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Don’t be fooled by flashy design, make an informed decision based on these 5 common mistakes to ensure that you’re getting value for money.
When you’re having those initial discussions, make sure they’re inclusive. You need to be a strong driving force in this project, so make sure your website developer includes you in the conversation. If you’re coming up against sales type conversations, rather than genuine discussions then take that as a sign of things to come.
Have clear goals in mind so you can accurately communicate those goals, avoiding misunderstandings down the track. Any re-work, delays or add ons that weren’t originally planned for could significantly increase the cost of the project.
Most importantly, make sure you have the available resources for this project. A website build demands time and attention from the person managing it, so ensure that this is aspect is considered. That person should have an in-depth understanding of how your business operates, so they correctly communicate this to the developer.
They’re not mind readers, so make sure that you communicate clearly and precisely to ensure that you get the best results possible. Your investment will pay off.