The world of web development is unregulated.
As with any unregulated industry, any man and his dog can offer web services.
I saw a post on facebook from someone needing a website, it had over 30 replies after a day. Leaving the original poster more confused then assisted.
Additionally, people that require a website made for them are often inexperienced with web development themselves, so they’re relying on others to give them information.
This post provides a rule of thumb for anyone undertaking a website project
Firstly, you need to be very clear on what the website is trying to achieve for you.
If the website is a backbone for your company, and you’re expecting it to generate leads for you for years to come, then you should consider the website an investment, not an expense.
Don’t skimp out, if you use cheap, free, or DIY options, then most of the time, you’ll paint yourself into a corner in the long term. Your code standards will be shit, you’ll have a hard time performing updates or major changes, and you’ll end up having to re-do the whole thing.
Personally, my pricing is quite high, often 5x that of competitors.
I’ve had prospects scoff at my prices, saying they’ve been quoted $900 elsewhere.
I won’t be offended if they choose “Jimmy the website guy”.
I also tell them my sites average $20,000 per month in revenue for my clients, and all of a sudden, my price tag doesn’t seem like such an expense.
Meanwhile, Jimmy has no idea how much his websites generate and talks about squiggly lines and how much “exposure” his websites generate.
As with anything, you get what you pay for.
So if it’s a hobby, you’re fine to build it yourself or get a recommendation.
Alternatively, you can enrol in training courses and learn to DIY. I know an excellent company in Newcastle that offers training, Proweb services.
However, if you just want a profession to handle it all for you, then do your research and compare reputable developers.
Your goal is revenue, not just a website
If the web company you’re working for is serious, they should have a pretty good idea how much cash their sites generate.
If they say “we don’t know, we just make the website and give it to the client”, walk away.
The exception to this is if they say “we don’t perform marketing, however we know the marketing company that takes care of that”, then ask them the same questions.
If they say “we don’t track conversions”, walk away.
If they say “we don’t record revenue, just keyword rankings, and our websites rank really well” meaningless info. Walk away.
You want some sort of indication the developer understands the end goal for YOUR business, not just their role in the project.
Take a look at the screenshot below:
This is a screenshot from just one of my clients over a 30 day period.
The website generated 43 phone calls, and 10 contact form enquiries.
Additionally, the website has over a 7% conversion rate, meaning 7/100 people convert. Or for every 1000 visitors, 70 people will convert.
Most importantly, the site led to $23,000 in sales.
This is the information business owners actually care about.
The biggest problem I see, is that people start the website project with the wrong ideas, people talk about nonsense like
- Logo’s (can come after the fact)
- Meeting for 10 coffees to “talk it over”. Seriously, read below about reverse engineering and make it easy on yourself
While design elements, branding & personality have their place, they shouldn’t be at the forefront of your project, instead, start the website project with the end goal in mind. Focus on:
- Existing sites you can reverse engineer and extract ideas from
Take the guess work out of it. I recently had a client, who’s one of Australia’s top 5 online PC retailers. They were having a hard time choosing a new layout for the site and asked “Rhys, what do you think?”. So, instead of just “thinking” about the new layout and suggesting my opinion, I went online and looked at:
- What Amazon is doing
- What eBay is doing
- What leading competitors are doing
All three of these websites used a very similar layout. We can also assume eBay and Amazon have already done a large amount of testing we can benefit from.
It was a simple solution to a large problem. Reverse engineering can be applied to most website projects and challenges.
In summary, if a the web company is a professional operator, they’ll be able to show you existing sites and revenue. Then, base your website off successful sites – there’s no need to do everything from scratch.
Agree upon a due date
Setting a due date can potentially save you a lot of headaches. This might be a simple one, but by purely setting a due date you can save a tremendous amount of hassle.
Ask them to include on the invoice “Project to be completed by DD/MM/YYYY”. This helps in many ways
- The developer and you are 100% aware of completion date. There’s nothing vague about it, there’s no “it will be done in March” and you go back and forth with 30 emails type of crap.
- You have an invoice with a due date, should things go pear shaped, you will hold the upper hand
There should be no reason why they shouldn’t agree to this.
Ask about future support
If you’re website’s role is to support your business, then no doubt, you’ll need to update it in the future. Anything from including a chat program, to changes to a contact form, layout changes or re-branding the website in the future. Ask them:
- How many hours of updates do I get in this invoice?
- How much are additional hours, should I need them?
A website is rarely a one time investment. The majority of small to medium businesses, will not have an IT expert on hand, and likely out-source their work.
Ensure the developer is able to provide you assistance in the future, and you know exactly how much that will cost.
Quality of workmanship
Every man and his dog can setup your website 1000 different ways.
There’s no two developers the same. It’s also difficult for a business owner to understand the technical differences. With that in mind, every business owner wants a website with the following features:
- A website they can take pride in
- That looks good, and represents the business to the highest degree
- Understand how the website operates, and how it supports their business
- Who they can turn to for help, marketing or updates
By just using common sense, you can browse over the website developer’s portfolio and just assess them.
- Are the websites accurate, compelling and engaging?
- Are the websites seamlessly guiding me through the site?
- Do the websites use a less is more approach, or is there 10,000 things flying around the place?
- Are they good websites, or are they amazing?
Thinking about the long term is key.
Sure, you can pay Jimmy $900 and get a website. Jimmy might even say “your exposure is up 300% and we use good SEO practices” to make that $900 feel like a real winner.
Or you can research developers, and understand the long term objective – which is, sales, enquiries and revenue. On-board a web company with a proven record.
Ask yourself, is it a question of money, or value?
Find a reputable web company that knows, with absolute certainty, how well their websites converts, and what your options are moving forward.