My web development company, Gatilab, builds websites, but I’m not here to tell you why you should pick us. I’m here to help you determine what to look for when hiring a website development company, designer or developer. There will not be a sales pitch today. But I want to start you off with my favorite question. Why do you really want a website? Now take a minute to think about your answer.
Do you have an answer?
Suppose you really need a website.
So, you have decided you need a website, what is the first thing you do? Ask a friend if they know of any web developers or web development companies or designers? Conduct a Google search?
Inevitability, you end up at a web developer or web development company or designer’s site, and you look at their portfolio. Maybe they have some testimonials, or maybe they’re a really cool company and they display the logos of some of their top clients. But do you feel like any of them are the right choice?
You might convince yourself that one company might be up to the task, but deep down you still have doubts. Ultimately you end up going back and looking at their portfolios and making comparisons.
But here is the thing: the person most responsible for your favorite website was a designer, not a developer.
You see, design and development are two different things.
Designers create artwork and they make a website simply stunning. They may also be involved in the usability (UX/UI) aspect as well.
Conversely, a developer codes a website so that it functions; they take the artwork and make it a physical reality.
How important is design?
So should I be looking for a designer or a design agency?
Design is important, but only to a point. It really depends on your product.
If you are in a creative market like photography, then the design of your website will be more important than a website for a semiconductor company.
But here is a general rule of thumb that I tell clients: Your website needs to be nice enough to convince people that it is worth checking out when they first land on your website.
We have all found sites that look like they are 10 years old. Automatically we figure this company is old and not with the times, and therefore they have nothing good to say, so we leave.
Your website needs to make people feel like they are in the right place. That’s your goal. No more, no less.
Still not convinced? Have you looked at the list of the top ten most used websites? Have a look.
These sites are not what most people consider cutting edge design, but they work. They serve a purpose. They are on-time, neither early nor late.
So be on time. Don’t sacrifice business for the sake of cutting edge design. Nor should you go all retro. Keep the balance.
What about the developer? What should I be looking for?
Yes. Now that we have given some perspective on the design elements of a website, how do you choose a developer?
Well if you are using third party websites like upWork , you can look at the reviews.
I think third-party websites are a great place to start. Personally, I would trust the reviews on third-party websites before any of the on-site reviews.
The on-site reviews are definitely going to be biased. Like, I will always showcase the best reviews I have received. I have 97% good and 3% bad reviews — but still there is still a chance that I am going to fail you by 3%. (There is a refund policy in this case, so no worries. I’m just trying to prove my point here.)
If you are looking for a website and you are not a coding person then things may get a little tricky for you. There are a number of technical factors to look at, which can be hard for a non-coder to recognize about the web developers:
- Do they use coding best practices?
- How long have they been coding?
- How many coding languages do they know?
- Do they use the latest web code versions (CSS3, JS and HTML5)?
- Will the website scale?
But what really matters?
Let’s be honest; as a business owner you expect a website to look great and function perfectly, right? I know I do. So what is important? Strategy.
We can spend all day auguring over how to define strategy, but here is my definition: Strategy is the process of developing a plan to achieve your company’s business goals.
When we are talking about websites we are talking about translating your business goals into online concepts. Most of the time this involves marketing (telling the story), copywriting (conveying the story), and moving people to action (funnels); an action that you have planned when designing your strategy.
So why do you really want a website?
You see, most developers are going to talk to you about technology. They will talk all day about that new shiny object, which has the potential to make your website the coolest thing on the market. And that can cause your decision to be even harder to make.
A good web developer, designer or web development company will take the time to really understand your company. They will be asking you questions like:
- Who is your ideal client/patient/customer?
- What is your company’s story?
- What kind of offline marketing are you currently doing?
- Which parts of your business are excelling?
- Which parts of your business are costing you money?
- Do you have any daily tasks that are extremely time-consuming?
- Do you see the trend?
A good developer, designer or web development company should be trying to really understand your business. That way he/she can find unique ways to add value by helping solve some of your business problems. They are not asking you about color choices, fonts, and typography. They are not trying to impress you with their knowledge of technology. These are important questions and topics to cover, but they will come later.
The perfect website development company, designer or developer is the one which takes the time to learn your business and market:
- They strive to create a team approach to building your website.
- They find unique ways to add value to your company; ways you never even knew existed.
Finding the right company requires you to take the time to talk with them. If you do sit down and talk, and follow my advice, you will quickly find the right developer for your project.
Just to be clear, I am not saying the design and development of your website is not important; I am saying they should be a given. And a lot of designers and developers on the market are good at what they do.
But what is really important is the strategy, finding creative ways to maximize your business’ potential. It is about making sure that your website is an asset to your company, not just an overpriced business card.
Going back to my original question, why do you really want a website? A better question would have been: where do you see your business in twelve months? Because that will tell you why you truly need to build a website.
Need a few more inputs? Book me for a 30-minutes free consultation here.