A Freelancer, a Small Web-Design Company, a Marketing Firm, Sally or Luke from around the way? What are they doing to your brand, why is it taking so long, and where the heck is the progress?
Over the last several years web-development processes have become much easier for the inexperienced, the novice, or the individual with an aspiring career in web-development. So easy, that many freelancing, so called web-developers are creating a larger divide between those that are in the market for a website and those that are actually capable of delivering the fully functional result. This is why there is such a large difference in one quote from the next. Simply put, web-developers are not the most trust worthy people. Not to say they are bad people, but more often than not, they over extend their abilities to perform the work that they are contracted to deliver. Thus causing the frustration for those looking for healthy and clean looking website to represent their brand of product or service.
Everyone wants to cut corners!
It’s understandable to look for the best price when it comes to the development your website. But while looking for the best price,more often than not, once it comes along, you not only jump on it, you jump out the window. After fielding several expensive quotes from popular companies, or highly ranked google search results, the inexpensive quoteis often welcomed with open arms. In comes the new web-developer, with promises of a higher (SERP) Search Engine Result Page ranking, more business, better and stronger brand awareness, more sales, etc. etc. As you may have cut corners, you can bet that your chosen web-developer will do the same. Digital Media is true to the phrase “you get what you pay for,” and sometimes, you don’t get anything but a headache!
The Rules of Engagement!
I think that this post can be most beneficial to my readers if I offer some simple steps and requirements that you can put in place to ensure you don’t waste your time and money, and potentially damage your businesses appearance and reputation.
Always ask for your website quote to be provided in writing.
More often than not, while searching for that low cost website you will be referred to a friend of a friend, a friends relative or someone within your circle or local community. Its usually someone you know, and the price, and what they will do is offered via telephone or in person. So when Sally or Luke are sitting in your office talking with you, or on the phone describing what they can do for you; New Website, this feature, that feature, this service, this color, this style, this animation, this look, and so on and so on, your getting excited and the price is right, the check is cut and they are off to the races.
WAIT!, LET’S GET THAT IN WRITING!
Most professional proposals come to you already in the form of a contract. It will clearly define the scope of work, the time schedule, your requirements if any, review and status dates, and a clear description of the services, time-frame, and consideration. Furthermore, it should include maintenance schedules, any additional maintenance costs, and any tools for management of the website upon and beyond the completion date. The proposal should then have an acceptance and agreement paragraph that binds you and most importantly Sally & Luke to fulfilling all of those verbal promises. The point here, is get it in writing.
2. Let’s See What You’ve Done Previously!
The good web-developers out there, and there are many of them, will offer you a link to their portfolio. A link to their past and present reviews, names and numbers of clients that can speak their behalf. A little due diligence can go along way. See what they have, let them prove that they are capable.
3. Pay Now, or Pay Later?
More often than not, Sally & Luke are gonna ask you for their payment the second you say “Let’s Do This!” It is understandable that they want to get paid, but for the sake of protecting your investment, ask for a payment plan. Our company typically requires 60% as an initial deposit, and then the remaining balance due upon completion of the web-development. Multiple payments can even be an option for larger projects. Such as certain payments due upon a completion timeline. If there intentions are pure, Sally & Luke shouldn’t balk at this. As previously stated, more often than not, web-developers run with low prices grabbing contracts as fast as possible collecting their payments and end up stuck with several over due projects. And then they feel no urgency as they are now, in their minds working for free. They have already spent the funds that you paid, and your not that important any longer. So be creative in your payment. It’s for your own good!
4. What Time is it Anyway?
Make certain, I cant stress this enough, MAKE CERTAIN, you are provided a timeline and have a clearly defined expectation at certain points of the process. If you don’t have this, you may be waiting quite some time to get your project complete.
There are many things that you are expecting in your end results for your website. Lets take a look at what you should expect from your web-developer. Taking into consideration, the many different platforms used to build websites, I will address these expectations from the perspective of a WordPress designed website. Recently, I was asked by a close friend to explain to her the process and expectations of having a WordPress website built. Her employer was in the process, quite some time into the process as a matter of fact, of having a WordPress site built for them. She explained some of the details as to what they were getting up to this point and wanted some clarification as to the normalcy of such a process. So, to explain the WordPress development process, and what you can expect, I will tell you how my company Media Rescue executes such a project.
Actual Development & Progress Measurement of a WordPress Website
Let me start this section by telling you first of all what WordPress actually is. WordPress is a free, Web-based software program that anyone can use to build and maintain a website or blog. It was originally intended as an easy way to set up a blog. But, thanks to the efforts of a large “open source” community of WordPress programmers working to extend and improve its capabilities, WordPress has become much more than just a tool for bloggers.
Today’s WordPress is really a “content management system” (CMS), which means that it can be used to run full-sized, social media-rich business websites. It comes with an easy to use interface that allows for less Coding and more fluid & responsive websites. What’s responsive? Responsive is when a WordPress website automatically adjusts to smaller screen sizes, like mobile phones or tablets. It gives the same professional appearance on any screen size.
The WordPress software is downloaded to the back end of the website, most often called the C-Panel. This is where your website is hosted and controlled, all of your files, images, and website content are stored here along with databases of info that relate to your website and the contents of it. Also housed here is the management of your URL (your domain), such as where it points too when certain links are clicked. Additionally your email server, MX records (Mail Exchange) are here in the C-Panel as well. WordPress has many features that are called plugins. Small programs that can be downloaded for free or for purchase, that implement certain features into the website. Such features include, forms, image slideshows, text boxes, column builders, visual developing tools, and millions more.
Okay, so now you know a little bit about what WordPress is! Congrats!
When Media Rescue begins a project to design a WordPress website, we discuss with our client what features are most important, and ultimately what our client hopes the website will do for them. For some, it’s sell a product, for others it is a service, and others it’s is simply a tool to offer information. No matter what the purpose, it must clearly be defined prior to the build stage.
Creating the Client Gateway!
We immediately build a sub-domain. A sub-domain is an additional domain that resides within your primary domain. For example, our sub-domains are built on our own primary. Let’s use one of our existing projects to describe this. The company is Core Imaging USA. We created sub-domain called http://www.coreimage.mediarescue.us that is where we work on the website and can offer live view access to our client by simply visiting the the aforementioned URL. This allows our client to request changes, see the progress, and make additional adjustments or additions to the website in real time. Once the completion of the website is reached, we transfer the completely built and approved website content to the primary URL, which in this case is http://www.coreimagingusa.com/
WordPress is built in real time, and can be seen by anyonethat knows the address (URL) of which it resides. If your web-developer tells you things like “that phase is complete, and can’t be changed, your in trouble. WordPress was created to make things easy, changes can be made at any stage of the development. WordPress runs off of themes. There a million and one themes out there, and each of them averages in price of about $50. These themes come with already installed plugins that offer the features we previously spoke of. The theme is the actual structure of the WordPress website. Not the content, but the layout, and the features, not the color or the fonts used, but the actual appearance. Such as a full-width site, or a boxed layout, or a one page site with anchor links that navigate you to a specific section of the page. There are many different styles, and more likely than not, your web-developer used a free theme instead of building you one from scratch, or allocating your partial payment to the purchase of one.
The type of site my friend is referring to is actually a very simple website. And the timeline on a website that doesn’t require all the bells and whistles, can be built for high performance in less than a few days. As I’ve stated before, with WordPress, you need a theme, and some content that is usually provided by the client, a cycle to take your viewers through, such as a sales cycle, an enticing and directive set of directions to move them through the website, and lead them to a call to action. Such as “Fill out this form”, “call us now”, “buy now”, or whatever the purpose of the website demands. The most difficult, or rather time consuming process in my opinion is the image work. Sizing the images, and choosing images that are royalty free, and using images that attract and engage the viewer. Most importantly, using clear and high resolution images that provide a crisp appearance.
In summary, you should know what pitfalls you can easily avoid now, and you should also have some understanding of what WordPress is and how it is used. There is so much more to the development of a WordPress website, or shall I say an effective WordPress website. I mean, what good is having a website if no one visits it. Hopefully your web developer implements Search Engine Optimization, that allows for search engines to easily crawl your website and extract data, to offer on search engine result pages, ultimately placing you in front of those that may be searching for your service or product. Clear descriptions of each page and keywords within the content of the website are mandatory. Creating site maps for the search engines for easy compatibility should be a standard process. And lastly, implementing tools to track the performance of your website, and whether or not your presence online is effective, or destructive to you overall brand is absolutely a necessity. One that is easily obtained with the free tool offered by Goggle called Google Analytic’s.
If you need more info, or you need a website designed by a company that implores an open line of constant communication within its development processes, don’t hesitate to contact Media Rescue. If price is your fear, have no worries, we cater to all budgets, we believe everyone should have a fair shot at an awesome online presence. Contact us if you want our assistance!
Here are some useful links:
This is an excellent set of tools that will get you familiar with the WordPress Platform, and get you educated on the processes and terms often used.