So Who Is Gonna Build Your Business Website?
You Need a Business Website Partner
Every business needs a website in 2017. No matter what industry you are in or what service and products you offer, by not having a business website you appear outdated and untrustworthy. And unless you plan to build your own business website you will need someone to do it for you. To help you get your business website design project off to a great start we have some tips for you.
Engaging a web designer to create a business website that provides you with the business results you require can be challenging. Most business owners lack experience in this area. As a result many of them are focused on the end result rather than some essential first steps that can make a big difference later.
As you begin your business website design project it can be hard to know what to ask for and even harder to know if a proposed solution or price is fair or appropriate. Especially small business owners have a hard time understanding what is involved in business website design and development. Here are a few basic things you can do at the beginning of your project that can make all the difference later.
Business Website Design Starts Here!
Finding a Web Designer or Agency
The first step to start your business website design project is to find a professional or agency to help you. And for most businesses this is the first obstacle; how and where can you find a web designer you can trust and work with?
The easiest way to start your business website design project is by working with a provider who has been recommended by a business associate or friend. This will give you a pretty good idea what to expect as you work with a service provider. But is by no means a guarantee of a trouble free engagement. Be sure to ask specifically about the project type and size, strengths and weaknesses and anything the referrer would do differently next time with a specific provider. What works for another business may not necessarily work for you (and vice versa).
If you don’t know anyone who has recently worked with a service provider for their business website design project you will have to do some research of your own. Start by looking at business websites you like, and see who built them. Usually the web designer or agency is credited in the footer. You can also reach out to the business owner and ask them who built their site, and if they would recommend them.
Professional Review Networks
Another option to find a service provider for your business website design project is to check professional review networks. But be careful! You are creating the most important online asset for your business. If you want professional results you need a professional web designer or agency.
Therefore we don’t recommend Craigslist or Yelp. If you want professional results check out professional review sites such as Clutch.co, TheTopDev, Top Agency, Expertise, or UpCity. All of these review sites are by invitation only, and they carefully check out service providers before listing them.
Defining Your Business Website Design Project
Once you find a web designer or agency to handle your project you need to define what the project will actually entail. Each business website design project is different. Some businesses only need a very basic site, while others have more complex requirements. Keep in mind that a professional web design agency can help you with content creation, search engine optimization, and even inbound marketing and ongoing website support.
Defining The Project Scope
The first thing you need to do is to define your business website design project scope in detail. This is especially important if you are working on a fixed project bid, or have a tight project budget. Defining the website ‘scope’ or what is included, is critical if you want your project to go and end well. Work with your web designer or agency to detail your expectations and requirements.
At the highly caffeinated agency we have developed a simple list of questions that we ask our clients at the onset of any web design project. The answers to these questions help us refine our strategy, determine the best options, and come up with a plan to build your new website in the most time and cost-effective way.
Here are some of the elements you may want to specify in a scoping document for your business website design project:
- Brand Identity – are you looking to make any changes to your existing branding, or need a new brand identity?
- Visual Content – do you have images of your business, product, or service, or will you need help sourcing stock images or the services of a professional photographer?
- Graphics and Infographics – do you require the creation of graphics or infographics for your project?
- Content Creation – do you have existing text content or will you need someone to create new content or edit and proof existing content?
- Search Engine Optimization – do you need an SEO and keyword strategy, and organic keywords and phrases for your website content?
- Social Media – do you need social proof and social sharing functionality for your website?
- Content Management System (CMS) – what CMS will be used for your website, and will you be able to make content updates and edits yourself?
- Functionality – do you have any specific requirements regarding your website functionality, such as custom forms, chatbots, virtual assistants, etc.?
- E-Commerce Capabilities – are you planning to sell products or services, including virtual ones, or process payments on your website?
- Usability and Cross-Browser Testing– will you have the opportunity to test your website for usability and cross-browser issues before it launches?
- Website Analytics– how will you measure and track your website performance?
- Hosting and Maintenance – who will host and maintain your website after launch?
Covering these aspects of your business website design project before you get started will help keep your project on track and on budget, avoid or greatly limit the dreaded scope creep, and deliver a better project at the end.
Launching Your New Website
Many business owners are so focused on starting their business website design project they fail to consider what happens when the website is finished and ready to launch. Creating a business website is only part of the journey. Equally important is what happens once your new business website is live.
Launching your new business website is a bit like giving birth to a baby. Just like a baby needs a lot of help to thrive and survive once it is born your new website needs the same. But many times we see business owners launch their new site, and promptly forget about it. These abandoned websites provide no measurable business results, and eventually pretty much shrivel up and die on the vine.
Is There a Website Warranty
Generally any respectable web designer or agency will provide a warranty for their work. Usually this covers a period of time after launch where any discovered bugs or errors that were part of the original code base will be fixed by the website designer or agency at no extra cost. At a minimum you should expect at least a two-week warranty period. For more complex sites a longer period may be required.
Be careful, any website warranty does not cover new features or functions that were not in the original scope and only applies to code that is ‘exactly’ as it was provided. If you or another vendor have edited code or made any other changes you may not be covered under warranty.
What About Website Training
Your new business website will not be of much use to you if you are unable to update it yourself. As the business owner you should be able to update your content, upload new images, ad a new team member, and change your contact info without having to ask your web designer or agency each time. And all of that becomes a lot easier if someone shows you how to do it first.
Ask if basic training is part of your business website design project. Here at ESPRESSO.digital we include full training in all of our WordPress and e-commerce web design projects, and we even retrain for free within 90 days. If your service provider does not offer this kind of support you may need to look elsewhere.
Website Maintenance and Updates
Part of your business website design project must focus on what happens after launch. Who will update the website with fresh and informative content required by search engines and human visitors? Who is responsible for fixing the site if something breaks? Will your web designer or agency keep your site updated and optimized, or is that up to you, the business owner?
Some web designers or agencies are simply interested in the creation phase. Especially individual service providers and small agencies generally lack the required resources. Unless you have the time and expertise to handle website hosting, maintenance and updates yourself you will need some help with this part.
As you evaluate web designers or agencies for your business website design project be sure to ask if they can help you launch and maintain your website upon completion. Having this conversation after your website is done can be expensive and painful.
You May Find These Helpful
Here at ESPRESSO.digital we help businesses and organizations from Asia to Europe build and maintain their online presence. We have been doing this for over 15 years now, and we learned a lot. So here are some posts on our ESPRESSO Shots Blog that will help you build a better business website:
- Finding Your Ideal Mobile-First Web Design Agency
- 16 Web Design Terms to Impress Your Web Designer
- Business Website Traps You Must Avoid
- Business Website Errors That Repel Visitors
- What You Need to Know About Website Costs
- Building Your Own Business Website – Good Idea or Not?
- Establishing a Successful Business Website
- Template Website or Custom Web Design, Which Is Best for Your Business?
- 15 Key Small Business Website Success Tips
- Business Website Pages: How Many Do You Really Need
Other Considerations for Business Website Design
Building your business website is one of the most important things you must do if you want to thrive and survive in the digital age! Therefore your business website designer or agency are a critical part of your online marketing efforts. As you plan your business website design project you should consider the following as well.
Your business requires a top-notch website if it is to stand out from your online competition. As you evaluate service providers be sure to review their web design portfolio and make sure their design style and quality meets your expectations.
By turning your business website design project over to a designer or agency you are giving them access to a lot of confidential information. Especially if you are looking for a long-term partner instead of a simple one-time project you need to trust your service partner.
Project Management and Communication Style
Different service providers work in different ways. Some can be very rigid and structured in their approach, with regular meetings and project updates. Others may prefer a more informal style of communicating with clients. Make a judgment on how well you connect and communicate. Get a feel for how responsive they are and how they are able to adapt to your specific needs and challenges.
Connecting With Your Service Provider
The bottom line for engaging any web designer or agency for your business website design project is the quality of your working relationship, trust and rapport. All the scoping documents, warranties and maintenance planning in the world will not help you if that trust isn’t there.
If you want your business website design project to end well you must take the time to connect with your potential service provider or agency representative. A personal meeting is great, but it can be difficult to arrange depending on schedules, location, etc. Therefore most professional web designers or agencies are available via Skype, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, etc.
Don’t Do This; It Never Works!
One final word of advice for you as you prepare to start your business website design project. Don’t contact a web designer or agency and ask: “I need a website. How much will it cost?” There is just no way any professional service provider can answer that. Many of them will not even bother to respond to you. And if that is the only question that comes to your mind you are not ready to start your business website design project anyway!
Still Have Questions?
Hopefully these steps will help you get your business website design project off to a great start. If you need additional help or have any questions why not book a consultation with the highly caffeinated experts at ESPRESSO.digital? We can help you plan your business website design project.
Here at ESPRESSO.digital, we offer a full range of business web design and related services, including brand strategy and design, content strategy and creation, website design and development, commercial photography services, search engine optimization, social media integration and business website hosting.
Feel free reach out to us and learn more about how our experts can help you get the business website you need to thrive and survive in the digital age. Our team can help you determine any shortcomings and obstacles along the way and help you avoid them. All you have to do is reach out to us. The highly caffeinated team is here to help!
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Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!