You need a website, but how can you tell the difference between a professional business website builder and a student in a basement? The answer is simple if you know what to ask. Professional website builders are just that, professionals. They have a college degree and/or experience in website building. They understand small businesses because they are likely to be one themselves. And most importantly, they speak to you in your language, not theirs.
Buying a website is a form of advertising for your website package business. Would you pay to develop a radio or TV ad if you weren’t sure of the return on investment? Why risk your business reputation by trying to get the cheapest website just so you can write “http://www.yourbusinessname.com” on your business card? If you’ve seen a website builder’s work and the site looks good, does it include keywords, titles and descriptions so that search engines like Google and Yahoo can find it?
These are some of the key questions that a professional website builder should be able to answer:
1. How will you measure the return on your investment?
2. What information will be included in the monthly site analysis reports? The reports should answer at least the following questions:
…α. What time of day do most visitors arrive?
…b. What search engines do they use to reach my site?
….c. How long does a person stay on my site?
…d. Which pages do they visit?
…ε. Where do they go when they leave the site?
..f. What are the demographics of my typical online customer?
… Has my search engine ranking changed?
3. Is my website monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a guaranteed 99.8% reliability?
…α. Are all links checked daily?
…b. Are broken links fixed?
4. What is my conversion rate (how many online leads have been converted to actual customers)? Again, what is the conversion rate?
…α. Why did they visit my online store?
..b. Were they satisfied with their purchase?
…c. What would they change on my website?
5. How will you help me grow my business over time?
If you can’t find a web designer, visit the websites of your competitors or other local businesses. Most reputable web designers list themselves and provide a link in the fine print at the bottom of the site they create. Call businesses whose sites you like and ask the owners if they are satisfied with their online presence. Consider hiring a web developer who is not local. They should be able to gather the information you need over the phone or through web conferencing. Finally, get price quotes from various website developers. The quality of the quote is a good indicator of the company’s professionalism.