Here are some questions that will help you avoid disappointment during and after your website development process:
- What do I need to provide? There are usually several items that can jumpstart the process and cut time required by the developer:
- Assets (hi-res images, logos, text content edited and ready to go)
- Domain, web host, content management (eg. WordPress) and even database credentials (login info like usernames and passwords)
- Social media account url’s and login info
- Ideally, you will know exactly what pages you need and what information you would like in the sidebar and/or footer.
- Will I get full access to my website? The answer should always be yes! Especially if it is a WordPress site. Make sure you get the following before the process has been completed (so you can gain access or give another developer the keys). You may never need them if you are happy with your webmaster, but just in case…
- Admin credentials to the back end of your site
- Database credentials (if you ever want another developer to have access)
- DNS settings access
- Don’t mess around in these areas if you don’t know what you’re doing. You could break something.
- How will you make it easy to manage the content on my site? WordPress sites are user friendly if you’ll take just a little time to learn the system. But make sure the areas you want to manage are easily accessed and edited. I’m usually glad to create simple written tutorials for a client.
- Will my website be mobile-friendly/mobile-optimized? The answer should always be “yes”.
- How will the SEO from my current site be preserved in the new one? If you’ve had your site for any length of time, and if it has served you well, you need to know how the google juice you’ve created won’t be lost. This is an important service that should always go along with a website rebuild. This is usually done using something called 301 redirects. You wouldn’t want Google to forget how reliable you’ve been with maintaining your storefront all these years, would you?
- What SEO features will be included with my site?
- Make sure unnecessary archive pages aren’t indexed
- Title and meta descriptions unique for each page
- Permalinks clean and consistent throughout site
- Social graph and schema markup are baked in
- Install SEO plugin from Yoast
- How will the website convert visitors? You have a “conversion strategy”…right? This involves knowing and communicating the following to your developer:
- Who your audience is
- What your “unique selling proposition” is
- What your main calls to action are
- This will help the developer create the right fields in the contact form as well as the right buttons and links around the site.
- How and where will my website be hosted? The answer to this question should be largely based on the following :
- Your host location fits the geographic location of your target audience
- Hosting setup is configured based on your expected traffic
- Available bandwidth and disk space are tailored to your business to avoid lag time and file upload issues
- Responsiveness and reliability of your hosting provider are good – saves you a lot of time and stress when things go down
- Access to your hosting settings is provided in cases where you need to hire someone else or do something during off-hours
- What will you be doing to keep my WordPress site secure? WordPress can be vulnerable to being hacked as it is a popular, open-source platform.
- Consider working with someone who has experience dealing with a hacked site
- Keep your themes, plugins and WordPress updated
- Only use reputable themes
- Get a clear understanding of how updates will occur and who is responsible.
- How easy will it be to add features/functionality to my website in the future?
- What will be used to help me track my website traffic? Sites can’t be optimized without any type of data to work with. Need to track the following metrics:
- Traffic (who, from where)
- Usability (site performance, bounce rate)
- Conversions (use Google analytics, Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools)
- How do I request help if I need something and is this included in what I am paying for?
- Are there any additional fees outside of what I have paid/am paying?
- Omg. As a developer, please ask me that question. Why do so many people want new websites, but they aren’t willing to deliver content for the site? It will cut time required by a developer considerably. Otherwise, the developer ends up having to figure it out, create it, get it approved and edited, etc.