What should I look for in a website company?
This is a question we often get asked.
Most importantly, you want a website company that will listen to you. This might sound crazy, but you need to make sure you choose a company that will listen closely to what you are saying. There are many times we've been told that a client's previous website company "heard their words", but didn't "hear what they were saying".
The company you hire should help guide you through your decision-making process. There are various aspects of designing and developing a website, but you are the subject matter expert on your company and in the end it is your website and it should be designed to meet your goals. In other words, you want a website that is well designed, looks great and attracts the attention it deserves, while functionally providing the services you desire for those who visit your website.
Next, you want a website company that is well-rounded. Many times websites are designed by single individuals with a finite set of skills. Often, those individuals are either good at design (i.e., creating the “look & feel”) or they're good at development (writing the actual “code”), but not both. A well-rounded website company provides all facets of design and development or alternatively has a strong partnership with a company that compliments the skill sets they do have.
You need to hire a website company that understands how to effectively implement SEO. What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO can make or break the attention your website gets from the various search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, etc. If organic traffic from search engines is important to you, then be sure the website company you choose understands the various aspects necessary to make this happen. Does your website company even know what “organic traffic” means? (ask them!) Another often overlooked item with respect to SEO is the content of the title bar. Does the title of your website (in the title bar of the web browser) say something meaningless like “Welcome” or "Home"? There are so many aspects to SEO that it deserves its own article and we'll be providing more detailed information on this subject at a later date. However, the main point as it relates to looking for the best possible website company is that you need to ensure they have expertise in SEO.
Here is probably our favorite item. WHO do you choose? Let's emphasize this one - you want a website company, not a “website person”. Everyone knows someone that thinks they can make a website, or "took some classes"; your son, your grandkids, or the company president's nephew. Well yes, they probably can put together a website, but the key question is can they design and develop an effective website and can they support it 24x7x365? Do they have just basic design skills or are they truly an artist? Are they artistic, but have no idea how to make the website dynamically driven or database driven (if your website has a database, does your website developer know what SQL-injection is or why that is even important? Ask them and see what they say!
Okay, let’s say you found that “website person” that can both design and develop reasonably well – then ask this; when they go on vacation do you hold your breath that your website does not need any attention while they are gone? If you are going to spend money on a website do it right or don't do it at all. If done correctly you will reap the benefits of the traffic and attention and support you desire. If you do it wrong, you run the risk of being made fun of by your industry peers or worse yet end up on a site like boogersite.com! :-)
Another complaint we hear way more often than we should is "my website company is not fast enough or responsive enough". This really surprises us, but nevertheless we do hear it often. You want a website company that is fast and responsive so that when your site needs to be updated you are not waiting for weeks. And in many cases you do not want to (or cannot) even wait days. Can your website company put you at the top of the priority list when you call upon them to do so?
Finger-pointing is another complaint we often hear about. Example: "It wasn't us, it was your host." You want a website company that is full-service to avoid finger pointing by making sure the company that designs and develops your website can either host the website or has a strong partnership with a hosting company so you are not left to fend for yourself.
Okay, this is probably our second favorite item - let's talk price. You want a website company that is cheap, right? NOT! You don’t want to break the bank (we understand that), but come on; do you try to sell your services or products as “cheap”? Some do, most don’t.
Hey you created a company to sell a quality product or service so think about that for a minute ... you need to hire a website company that did the same thing; you want to find a website company that provides quality design and development. That does not mean you need to blow your budget, but it does mean you get what you pay for.
When you are buying a “tool” for your company do you go after the cheapest tool you can find – you know, the one that will break after one or two uses? – or do buy a quality tool that will last and continue to provide a high ROI over time? We trust that you make decisions based on quality. It should be the same when choosing a website company.
There are a lot of cheap website companies out there, but if cheap is your goal then you will get exactly what you paid for. You'll be wasting your money and your time (and time is money).
So while picking your nose is not serious, picking the right website company is!
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