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Waffles... there, do I have your attention? Sometimes a good ol' splotch of random is the best medicine to knock us out of that trance-like state we so often find ourselves in after spending hours reading articles and stalking our Facebook feeds.
But when it comes to major projects and decisions, we just fall into that culturally standard trench of how things should operate as if were thinking "everyone is doing it, so why not me?"
This may seem like the safe path when it comes to large financial decisions, such as who you're going to fork over large amounts of money to in order to build out your web presence and stick to your brand identity. But all too often, the price and listed features become the focus of your new website, while the most important vendor considerations slip away.
Here are three things you should ALWAYS ask (before a dime of your company's hard earned income disappears into anathema and you are left waiting with fingers crossed that you will like the resulting website and that it has the business impact your looking for):
1. What kind of post-site-launch assistance and edits are included with our contract?
This may come as a "shock", but rarely are sites absolutely pixel perfect out of the gate. Of course that’s always the goal of any quality web marketers, but sadly, we are human, and thus we err. However, aside from these expected, initial errors, as you are browsing your shiny new project, you will probably quickly realize, "Oh wait, this would be much more user friendly if our menu WASN'T red and green for our color blind visitors." As well as many other changes you’ll want to make post-launch, because hindsight is always 20/20.
Are simple changes included in your contract? Will your web design contractor charge extra, and if so how much? It is a scary thought, but some people will even hire freelance developers without first asking this question. A month later, they’ll end up in a tough spot when they realize their site could have gone from good to great with just a bit more attention.
2. What are the last three sites that you launched?
One of the best ways to get a good feel for the company you are about to make this very large commitment to, is to look beyond the glorious pride and joy sites that they chose to display on their personal site and see what one of their fresh-out-of-the-gate launched websites look like.
Do they have a solid SEO practice? Did they go that extra mile to be web accessible with image alt tags, color blind sensitivity, and the ability to navigate without a mouse?
These can all be often overlooked due to minimal effects they have on traffic, but they all show signs of the dedicated attention to detail that will give you confidence your site will be in good hands.
3. How much interaction could we expect during the site build and after launch?
As deadline-oriented and efficiency-focused as our business world tends to be, we sometimes forget that human interaction can be our most powerful tool.
If your web developer gives you a response such as, "We'll check in from time to time if we need anything" or "We’ll touch base once or twice a month," RUN. Run fast and don't look back.
As tempting as it is to view your chosen website development company as a vending machine that you put money into and out pops your shiny new site, that mindset simply turns your site into a giant gamble. And as fun as surprises can be, your new website should not be one. Your contract should weekly checkups to see how things are progressing for accountability's sake and to answer any questions flowing from either side.
Think of your website build like building a new home. It is a lot easier to change where that outlet goes, or even add a bathroom, while the house is still being built. Changes are much more difficult when they require a remodel. This is especially true when it comes to the functionality of your site (such as turning an image or testimony bar into a slider) and can even double the cost in some cases.
Take Your Time
It can be tempting, when you are on the clock, to rush into a decision. But putting an encapsulation of your brand's identity down into a user friendly environment can take time, and it will likely take at least a month (minimum) before your site is ready to launch. Then, two or three months before your business starts fully reaping the rewards.