So you need a new website for your business – and that’s exciting! But do you know what to ask of your web developer? Do you know what facilities are available for your website that can grow your business? All websites are not born equal and not all websites are the same!
A Diversity of technologies
Websites are diverse, with a variety of technologies and modules available for every type of business. And that’s why some cost more that others. It’s not just a case of ‘more pages’, and ‘lowest price’. You can buy many commodity items on that basis, but a business website is your place of business - your store, consulting office and booking agency rolled into one.
Specify your Business Website Correctly
When you start discussion with your website designer, make sure you have this information available:
1) What stage is your business at (number of years in operation or 'startup'). This will give the designer a reference frame at the outset by helping him/her to advise you on various aspects of content, SEO and more.
2) Are you a local physically located business (e.g. doctor, restaurant, etc). This will help to determine the top-page of your mobile site and how the contact data is presented.
3) Do customers visit your premises? This will determine whether your website needs a Google Map for people to find you easily.
4) Does your business sell products or services on site and if so:
i) To where do you ship them?
ii) How do you charge for shipping - calculated or fixed?
iii) How many products do you want to list and how many variations are there of each?
iv) If you are a hotel or rental business, do you need an online booking and payment facility?
5) Do you already have a social media presence (Facebook etc) for the developer to link to?
6) Does your business already have a Google My Business account? (This can be really important for a local business and although not a part of your website, it is somewhere the designer can look to find your reputation, reviews etc).
7) Are the images and text for your site ready? Some designers will offer stock photo - make sure they are good ones and that they are legal.
8) Do you already have a domain? Be careful in your domain choice. If you already have an established domain and maybe an old site, it is important to preserve the power of existing links.
9) Do you already have a logo?
10) Do you want a blog and/or a blog management services? Not many business owners seem to understand the value of a blog for ranking over time.
11) When do you need your website?
Keep that list and see if your designer asks those questions – which will be a very good indication of whether he/she is providing something your business needs, or cut & paste set of pretty pictures. And be double careful that you don’t accept a quotation assuming that you are getting everything you need and then end up with price inflation.
Technical questions you must ask Designers – and the answers for your business website!
Don’t be shy about asking technical questions about your business website - and don’t let yourself be bamboozled. I’ve been designing complex electronics for much of my life and if such things can be presented to a financial review board in plain English, then there’s no reason that your web designer cannot also speak to you in plain English! Here are the questions you should ask along with some basic helpful answers.
- How many seconds will my business website take to load?
- What will my website score on GTMetrix tests?
- What will my business website score on Google PageSpeed tests?
- How will my website be optimized internally for SEO?
- Will my website images be correctly sized for browsers?
- Will my images be compressed and if so what method do you use?
- Will you be implementing a cache and if so what do you use?
- Ask your designer if GZIP compression will be implemented.
These are the answers you should require:
- Your business website should load in 2s to 4s on desktop. After that, people increasingly move on. On mobile, the best measure is ‘first meaningful paint’ on Google PageSpeed and this should be less than 4s. Although a page is not interactive in that time, seeing the content is enough to get a visitor to stay.
- The first result ‘PageSpeed’ should be better than 90%. The second score, YSlow we will not discuss here. (Call us if you need to know more).
- Google PageSpeed for mobiles is a tough customer. It’s also where the ‘time to first paint’ comes from. In general, you want 90% or better, but achieving this can require extra effort – which is a great investment for eCommerce websites where every millisecond counts.
- The designer must tell you which keywords the website will be based on, but please also ask him/her which SEO plugin is being used. Our preference is Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO local and Yoast SEO for eCommerce. Finally ask that all images have Alt-Tags (the text that comes up when you hover over an image). There’s more, but that’s the very basic stuff your designer should know about and implement.
- If your designer uses a huge image (say 2000 pixels across) and it’s being displayed at say 250 or 640 pixels across, then your website is being badly slowed down. All image must be sized at least approximately correctly.
- Your designer should tell you that he/she is using optimized JPG or JPEG mages, or possibly Web-P images. Most of us use Photoshop to get this right.
- Caching is critical to speed. Just ask the designer which cache technology or plugin is being used – there are a variety such as WP Rocket, SP Supercache and many more.
- GZip is a compression method used to compress whole pages before they are delivered on the web – and it’s critical. It requires access to a file on the server called HTACCESS, which usually means talking to the host, or having competence in file management on the CPanel of the website. Your website will not score well on speed measurements without this.
A business website can look very nice and yet be worse than useless if it has not been well designed technically. Asking the questions above and probing your design company to see what they know before you commit to purchase is essential. We hope this article will help you.
There are some eCommerce focused questions on this site that you can also read.
Please feel free to call us if you need more information on any aspect of how a website is constructed for business. It cannot all be covered in such a brief article as this.