Building a website is no stroll through the park; it requires extensive planning and coordination to ensure every piece of content is presented in a functional, user-friendly, visually appealing way.
To guarantee your satisfaction with the end result, kick off the relationship with your web development team by asking these five key questions.
Important Questions to Ask your Web Development Team
1. What steps will you take to ensure the website conveys my company’s brand?
A website is the center of a brand’s online presence, the go-to hub for the low-down on all things brand related. When visitors arrive to your website, they should have zero doubts about which company the site belongs to, and its unique selling proposition.
A few tips for building a branded website include:
- Company logo and tagline
- Use of your brand color palette
- Font family consistent with your brand guides
- Brand-related imagery
- A key message, prominently displayed, of the unique value delivered by your company and why it matters to your target audience
- Content consistent with your brand’s voice and personality
2. To what extent will you incorporate SEO and what is your process?
A web development agency will often charge a project fee to develop a website. Make sure to inquire upfront if an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy is included or if it will be added as a separate service.
It’s true that many web developers will still build a site with no SEO, leaving the client to wonder why their site isn’t getting any traffic. It’s analogous to printing a beautiful brochure, but never handing it to anyone. To many, SEO is not easily visible (at least from the front end of your site), and yet it plays a critical role in having search engines serve up your site to those searching organically. Ensure your web developer identifies the process and discusses ahead of time with you the words and phrases to compete on.
Basic SEO elements include:
- Keyword research and implementation
- Creating title tags
- Using header tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.)
- Adding meta descriptions
- Labeling images with alt tags
- Publishing quality content
- Inbound links
Be sure to also ask your web development team to create an XML sitemap so search engines can crawl and index your website and then display relevant results based on keyword searches.
3. Will my website contain landing pages (essential for lead generation)?
Websites are sales tools. The landing page is the closer. Landing pages are dedicated to a specific offer, promotion, product or service along with a call-to-action, so once your customer “lands” on it, they have all the info and an action to take.
Outside channels often link to landing pages for a complete inbound lead generation program. That is, email marketing, social media links and ads, blog posts, press releases and Adword campaigns can, and should, all link to landing pages dedicated to the same offer, product or service.
Like everything else, landing pages have specific “best practices” to increase conversions. They should also be continually A/B tested to hone the best offer and layout, to continually increase your ROI.
The form might include a combination of the following fields:
- Email address
- Phone number
- Mailing address (only if you plan to send a direct mail piece)
- Occupation/job title
- Any other pieces of information relevant to the brand’s goal for the landing page
Visitors who convert (aka fill out the form) are considered quality leads for your business since they’re showing a high level of interest by taking the time to share their personal information. Without lead generating landing pages on your website, you miss opportunities to interact with interested prospects who contribute to the growth of your business.
4. Will my website have a responsive design?
The answer to this should be a no-brainer. In fact, most web development teams take on the “mobile-first design” mindset, especially considering that the number of mobile-only internet users now exceeds the number of desktop-only internet users in the U.S.
In other words (while it depends on who exactly is in your target audience), there’s a good chance a majority of your visitors are viewing your website from a mobile device.
By developing your website to have a responsive design, the user experience is optimized on a mobile device AND on any other device the visitor is using to access your site. Without a responsive web design, visitors may have difficulty navigating your site on their smartphone or tablet, therefore discouraging them to stick around on the site and convert into a customer or lead for your business.
5. What platform or language will the site be built in and why?
More than 80% of websites today are built using PHP, an open source scripting language for web development. Even Facebook and Twitter are PHP sites! Many of the most common content management systems (CMS) also use PHP, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
When it comes to deciding which programming language or CMS will be used to build your website, it’s important to go with what’s popular. Why? Because your website is not meant to be a static entity. Rather, it should expand, change and adapt with your ever-growing business. When it’s time to update your site, it’ll be a lot easier to find a programmer to help you out if your site was originally built in a popular language, vs. a highly specialized or proprietary one.
Long story short, unless there’s a darn good reason to do otherwise: popular platforms make more sense.
While discussing web development platforms with your designers, talk through any functionality or features you’d like incorporated with your website that may require custom coding beyond what’s available in, for example, a WordPress theme. Communicating your expectations upfront and understanding if your web development team has the skills to meet your needs will help ensure your satisfaction with the end result.