Posts Tagged ‘Web Development’

7 FAQs About Web Development Made Simple

It seemed last year many of our readers had the same questions about websites that kept coming up. So for convenience’s sake, we’ve compiled them neatly right here. Take a look and see if one of your questions topped our list of FAQs:

1. Why Does It Cost So Much?

This most frequently asked question opens the golden gate of opportunity for us to explain precisely what the value of your website is. In a previous article on the cost of a website, I likened your website to an employee for your business. Your company’s website is working for you 24/7, without ever needing a break. It sells for you while you’re sleeping, and it’s a constant advertisement/promoter/educator for your products and services.

So if you paid $20,000 for your website, that means after 2 years you have paid your website “employee” $10,000 per year. That’s an hourly wage of $1.14! Whatever the cost of your company website (and you should expect it to be at least $15k if working with an agency), you can be sure that it will quickly pay for itself and its value greatly outweighs the initial cost.

Want further insight on what other agencies charge? Let a global digital agency expert, Karl Sakas, give you his weigh-in.

2. Can’t You Just Build on the Website I Already Have?

Do I Need to Start From Scratch? I hate this question because no matter how thoroughly we explain why a prospect’s current website isn’t usable, many clients still come away feeling slighted as if dealing with sleazy auto mechanics pushing to sell them a manual clutch for their automatic car. I addressed this issue in Before You Hire a Web Developer as a caution to clients.

Just like you need the keys and title to a car before you can make any changes to it, your web agency also requires a few things in order to touch your website:

  • FTP / SFTP Access
  • Admin Log in Credentials
  • Proof Of Domain Ownership

If you rent or lease your site, we do not have the legal right to make changes to it and therefore need to build a new website from the ground, up. Also, if it’s been coded in a custom framework such as a privately licensed shopping cart, it’s on lock down. Try translating Japanese into English after only taking a year’s worth of education in that foreign language. That’s why we use and recommend open source code (like WordPress).

3. Why Should I Switch to WordPress?

Our favorite reason? No monthly on going maintenance fee to install and run it on your website. WordPress has become the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), with over 24% of websites powered by it. That means naturally there are more themes, plug-ins and tech support than any other CMS out there.

It’s also the most user friendly. More and more entrepreneurs want to learn how to maintain their own website, and there’s no better platform than WordPress. It’s intuitive, simple and many features require little to no coding. We could go on and on, but I suggest you read the following article on how your business can use WordPress.

4. Isn’t There a Plug-in for That?

As easy as that would make our job, the answer is not always, “Yes.” Even with thousands of plug-in options that exist for WordPress, a lot of times a client needs a custom function that an already existing plug-in won’t solve.

Also be careful of installing too many plug-ins as they increase the load time of your website and often cause bugs because one plug-in is not compatible with another. They don’t always play nice together.

5. Can You Teach Me How to Maintain My Own Website?

We sure can. We believe basic website maintenance is becoming the norm of the future, so when we hand over your finished site, we also equip you with the knowledge of how to keep it up to date (unless of course you don’t want to learn, in which case we will maintain it for you. We’re fine with that, too.) With us, training comes standard.

6. Why Do I Need an Advanced SEO Package?

Though we build your website around keywords from the very beginning and optimize it for local search and quick page load time, that is no replacement for a strategic search engine marketing plan. We work with an SEO specialist who lives, breathes and sleeps SEO the way we obsess over the strategy, design and development of your website.

Once the design of your site both wows and funnels users into sales and conversion, the next step of attack is to be found first above your competitors and in front of your audience. This involves investing some marketing dollars, but with SEO as the future of business marketing, you can’t afford not to. A good SEO specialist will gain you quality links, mobile search optimization, and integration with social media among many, many other factors. Don’t just take our word for it. Read for yourself.

7. Does It Really Matter Where I Host My Website?

Yes! There are free and cheap web hosts that lead to banner ads and downtime on your site as well as slow load times. You can also use your own virtual private server (VPS) if you know what you’re doing, but if your website goes down (think 404 error), you are responsible for fixing it. Quality hosts, on the other hand, guarantee website up time by managing the server, fixing bugs, and security for you. And as your website sees spikes in traffic, a quality host will manage the changes for you automatically. You can read more here about the differences in web hosting.

Got a question for us we didn’t answer? Feel free to email us or leave a comment in the section below.

Before You Hire an Agency for Your Company Website

web developer

I really feel for those clients that come to us as their second or even third source, after getting burned by hiring previous agencies or web developers. Those clients usually present us with a half finished, semi-functional website and want to know if we can pick up where their last hire left off. As much as we want to say, “YES!” sometimes we’re forced to explain that they need to start over from scratch because their unfinished website is on lock down and therefore inaccessible. And this is AFTER they have invested money, only to realize they do not own their own website and they do not have access to change any content or make updates to their site. So, before you hire an agency for your company website, here’s a checklist of some important terms that need to be set in stone:

1. You Own Your Content

A reputable marketing agency will create a contract with you from the very beginning before any work is done protecting your rights to your deliverables. That way, once it’s complete the way you want, you own ALL content and have 100% access to it. Plus, you don’t ever have to worry about that agency going out of business because you can take your website anywhere and give them the log in credentials so they can make changes to it.

This is so important because your company’s website is your store front online. It represents your company and therefore you should be the one making changes and updates to reflect your business. If someone else owns the content, you will be paying each and every time you need to contact them to make a change. You’re also relying on them to do it promptly, and you probably won’t rank high on their priority list. So it’s best to outline who owns the content and accessibility to it from the beginning.

hire web developer

2. Use Open Source Software

Want to know a dirty little secret? A lot of web developers create job security for themselves by programming your small business website in their own custom coding, meaning they are the only ones who can make changes to it. You hate the idea of starting over and paying to hire a new agency to create a brand new website for you, so you keep coming back. But the truth is, a good agency will code your website using open source software that anyone can make changes to like WordPress (our favorite!), Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. If your developer isn’t willing to program in open source, that should be a red flag that you are being trapped into working solely with them with no option of moving your website to another agency if you become unhappy.

3. Budget for Growth

A $500 website can be tempting, especially after all the costs you have already invested in your company. But a lot of people don’t understand the difference in website costs and often get trapped into a low level cost that ends up costing more money in the long run to fix. For example, often times the upfront cost of a site is cheap because the developer offers no custom programming. You get whatever the preset theme is capable of, nothing more. Then unfortunately, when your company grows and you need to make changes and updates to your site, you can’t. Suddenly need blogging ability? Too bad. Need your company site to sell your products online? Oh well. You get what you pay for. Don’t let your website limit your company’s growth. Try and budget for an agency that can expand your company’s online marketing capabilities as you need them.

4. You Own Your Domain Name & Web Hosting

Do not allow any company to put themselves as owners of your domain name. This means you cannot take it with you and you cannot control it. It’s perfectly acceptable to pay the agency to acquire and set up the domain name for you, but be sure you are listed as the owner.

Likewise, it’s typical to have your agency set up web hosting on your behalf as they may better know what your site requires such as the hosting platform, memory requirements and storage capacity. But make sure that the hosting is done at a third party provider (we like Flywheel), it is purchased under your own name, using your own billing details and that you have full access to all of the account administration and files. The contract should be clear that you own your own hosting and all hosted files.

Having control of your company’s website is key in saving money in the long run. By ensuring these points are hammered out in a contract from the beginning, it will protect you from the cost of having to start over if you become unhappy with your web developer. It will also protect you from the anxiety of paying for a new website once your small business grows, as well as the fear of losing control of your site if your developer goes out of business.

Have any questions for us on how to move forward after a bad web developer experience? Shoot us an email or comment below. We would love to hear your story.