You’re a small business owner and you need a website.

Picture this: you’re a new business or have just decided to get a website. You know a friend or someone locally who builds websites and will do you a good deal. They build you a website and you’re happy because they’ve done exactly what you want. You pay them.

You then learn about SEO etc and realise that you need to do that too so, you repeat the process using someone you know.  Again, you pay out. 6 months later, your website isn’t performing. You go and see a professional to help and end up having to pay again.

Why pay 3 people when one can do the job?

Do your Research!

When you need a website, you really must do a bit of research on the people who are going to build it. Make sure they are offering everything you need.

I’m personally qualified in digital marketing and specialise in web design, so I’ve tried to put together the top 10 things you should ask, so that you know where you stand before you agree to use a particular business.

1.       Https and an SSL

Nowadays, it’s important to realise the need for security. People, stereotypically, will navigate away from sites that say ‘not secure’ because everyone is so security conscious. To get the “S” part of this https, you need to buy/acquire an SSL certificate. Most hosts will throw in an SSL for a couple of quid, if that. I personally use a host that includes an SSL as standard. Make sure your getting one. Adding one after the build can be expensive.

2.       SEO

SEO is both on your website, the content for example, and off the page, known as technical SEO. These elements, such as ALT Tags on your images and meta tags help search engines find you. It shows Google what your page is about, so having all your images called “img_001” helps nobody.

Who is doing the SEO work? It’s fantastic that you’re getting a website, but if google (other search engines are available) cannot read it, then how are people going to find it?

3.       E-commerce

Are you having an ecommerce website? Are you looking to sell products? Who is inputting all the data? Who is uploading products? If it’s you, are they sorting out how you do it (spreadsheet templates for example). Most ecommerce designers will leave this element to you, as its your shop, but some might do it for you, for a fee.

4.       Updates

A WordPress website is like having a house – Just the building though. The plugins you use are personal to you and your website, much like the lights and curtains you’d choose for your house…

All websites need maintenance. Plugins that are used will go out of date, because the creators are always working on them, to make them better, faster, more efficient etc. WordPress itself is constantly being updated. You should expect to update your website plugins at least once per month, but once per week is good practice. Is your web developer going to do this, or is it your job?

It doesn’t take long, and is quite easy, but you need to know if you’re expected to do it. If it doesn’t get done, plugins can get outdated and stop working, breaking your website. 🙁

5.       Training / users

You’re an expert in your field, not in web design. Is the web developer going to show you how to use the website once they’ve built it? Does their quote include a handover training session? Or are they expecting to continue doing all your work? That could get costly.

6.       Content

Who is providing it? A good website needs good content. I personally use a copywriter to create all the words used on a client’s website, as he’s better at it than I am. I hear horror stories of a website costing thousands of pounds and then the business owner still has to go in and input all the content! Find out what the arrangement is BEFORE you sign anything.

If you have to do your own content, when you’re already running a business, that can slow down the project massively. Using a copywriter can be a very good way of getting around this.

Most developers will NOT provide content for you so, you sourcing a copywriter on top of other costs can get expensive and is definitely something to bear in mind.

7.       Emails

Do you need a website email address? I, for example, have info@radigital.co.uk and ruth@radigital.co.uk, and these are both part of my hosts package. Find out whether yours are included and is there is a limit on the amount of emails you can hold. (you don’t want prospective clients to get a mail error because your inbox is full, do you?)

8.       Timescale

A massive thing people forget to ask – how long is this going to take! Does it meet your requirements? Is it coming in stages… E.g. A first draft, a preview/staging site… Or is it all coming in one go, you leave them alone for a few weeks and a website appears. You should be able to expect a working website within 6-8 weeks.

9.       Analytics/XML Sitemap

Whilst not necessarily the role of a developer, setting the website up with Google Analytics and linking to Search Console is also helpful. At the very least, they should provide you with an XML Sitemap or the means to create one.

10.   Cost

Easily the most contentious point. I firmly believe that you shouldn’t be charged thousands of pounds for a straightforward website. Through us, a basic (non-ecommerce) website, consisting of 4/5 pages, shouldn’t cost more than £1000, which includes SEO, analytics, hosting, full set up and training on how to use it. Added extras and bespoke coding can increase the price, as can putting an “urgent” label on it. This is not ignoring the fact that businesses that have high overheads and staff costs will need to charge more.

Still Unsure?

Please remember, that we (RA Digital) deal only with small businesses, so we look at the needs of the business as a whole, implementing things like analytics etc as part of our build. You’re the expert in your field, we’re the experts in Digital Marketing, so we like to set you up with a fully working, functional and usable website. Companies who only build websites, will probably not do the whole shebang like we do, as that’s not their area of expertise.