As you look to the coming year, you may decide that it’s time to give your website a “face lift” if not a full body makeover. If that’s on your radar, here are some suggestions to help you get the job done.
FIRST: Design, color, navigation, and technology all have their place in website development. But if you want a site that advances your organizational goals and objectives, focus on substance before you get distracted with form. Work with an inbound marketing specialist to get clear on the content you’ll create, the offers you’ll make available, the means for encouraging repeat visits, and your strategy for optimizing search engine result placement.
SECOND: Engage a graphic designer to create a consistent visual theme for your website that will carry over into all other publications. Make sure it reflects current trends in web design and accommodates a user interface that suits the presentation of your content. [Ask for samples of the designer’s work!]
THIRD: Find a web developer who can build a site that aligns with your budget and maintenance requirements. Some questions to ask during “courtship” include:
- Do you understand my business model and how the website fits within it?
- What do you think works (and doesn’t work) with the current site? What improvements would you recommend?
- How do you design your websites? Do you use a content management system (e.g., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal)? If so, to what extent can you leverage templates and components to minimize development costs?
- Do you outsource any of the work? [Note: Web designers are not the same as web developers. Find out who will actually do the work and provide the long-term support!]
- Can you show me what I would do to modify the web content after the site is up and running?
- Where do you think I should host my site? Why?
- What level of support can I expect from you after the site has been built? At what rate?
- Could you supply a few references who’ll attest to the quality of your work?
FOUR: Once you’ve decided upon a developer, create a formal statement of work to outline deliverables, time frames, costs, and mutual responsibilities. List assumptions that affect the working relationship to make sure things don’t go awry due to unspoken expectations.