I feel like it’s unofficial website season! I’m hearing from so many that they’re ready to improve their business’s online presence and get a website that actually works for them.
If you’re looking to hire someone to build your website for you, how do you know who to choose? In this case, it goes beyond the price you pay and a lot more about the quality of website they’re building for you.
To make that easier, I’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask any website developer you’re thinking of working with.
What platform do you use?
Unless you have an expansive budget and need completely custom work, it’s likely your web developer is going to be using a type of platform. Whether they use SquareSpace, Wix, or WordPress can make a huge difference to your business and your website’s ability to grow over the next few years.
If you’re just starting out and looking for a lower budget project, SquareSpace and Wix are fine resources. But if you’re looking for a website that can truly grow with your business, you’re going to want to invest in WordPress. Read more about how these platforms stack up against each other.
Do you use themes or a builder?
Say you’ve picked a WordPress developer for your project. Great start! (Hey, I’m openly biased at least.) Now you want to ask how they’re actually building your website.
WordPress can mean a lot of different options. There are page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder and there are premium themes like Salient and Divi that can be customized with pretty much 0 code written. The themes and builders are perfectly fine, but they can provide bloated solutions that look kind of like “every other website.” They also require less time and a lower skillset, unless they’re being heavily customized, so they should come with a lower budget.
Personally, I custom code the websites I build. This keeps my customers’ websites lean, tailored 100% to their businesses, with custom copy and designs. It’s largely different because instead of purchasing a theme to work on, I’m building the theme myself. A website developer that custom codes your WordPress theme is going to cost a little bit more because of the advanced skillset it requires and the extra value it adds to your business and website.
Do you build for best on-page SEO?
This one is important, because frankly, why do you spend money on a website if it’s not optimized to appear on Google?
You’d be surprised how many web developers build beautiful websites, but miss basic SEO items like meta titles and descriptions. Ask them if they have an SEO checklist, how they approach the copy on your website, if they tell Google your website is live, or at the bare minimum, if they utilize the Yoast SEO plugin.
What kind of quality control do you perform before launch?
My personal launch checklist is about 3 pages long of different items I go through to ensure any website I launch is ready.
Any agency or web designer should have some kind of quality control before they launch a website on its primary domain. Checking how it appears on mobile, across different devices, and in different browsers is paramount. Making sure everything has been migrated properly and that you have an SSL certificate installed is super important. Ask what their own launch procedures look like and you’ll know how much thought they put into ensuring your website is ready to go and be discovered.
Where will my website live?
When it comes time to make a website live, you’ll want to ask your website developer where your website will be hosted – in other words, where it’ll live. Many agencies offer hosting services in-house (I do!), or they’ll help you launch your new website where it currently lives.
If someone doesn’t want to host with me, I often recommend a higher quality host like WP Engine because I know it offers the best customer support for my clients. Your host will need to be able to power your new website. While WordPress can live anywhere that supports a WordPress website, if you choose to go with SquareSpace or Wix your website has to live there. They can’t be moved.
Do you provide training on how to update my website?
Finally, and this is a big one – ask your web developer what kind of post-launch training they offer. I’ll be honest, most don’t. Here’s the thing though: this is your website and you’ve paid for it. You have a right to know how to keep it updated without having to pay a website developer $90+/hour to do so. Especially if your website is built in WordPress, the entire point is to make it easy for anyone to update.
I offer all of my clients video training and walk them through the main tasks, at minimum, that I know they’ll need to be able to perform. Many of my clients choose to have me update their websites anyway, because that’s simply not something they want to deal with, but I have a lot of business owners that absolutely love maintaining their own websites.
Having a developer that provides training is also important because it’ll tell you what kind of website design agency they are in practice; whether they’ll actually give you control over your business’s main marketing asset or not.
Always pick someone who offers training.