A small business entrepreneur is faced with many business decisions that can significantly impact the success of a business. It’s easy to hire skilled talent for accounting or legal services, but hiring a web provider is often a bit trickier, mainly because it is not a standardized service, and the industry (and technology) is constantly changing all the time.
At Lynk, we think it’s important for clients to be fully equipped, so we have provided some valuable tips on “how to hire a website provider”. Here are some key points you’ll want you to consider to help you get the best possible service from your website service provider, while minding your budget and sparing expensive mistakes and excess costs.
How to Plan Your Website
Set Goals & Objectives. What do you expect your website to achieve? Do you want to outshine your competitors? Are you hoping to generate leads from your website? Will your website be an e-commerce platform where purchases are made directly through the website? Will your website be used as an information resource for visitors?
Once goals are decided on, your service provider can collaborate and provide you with input, but you should be prepared to provide basic details such as: design preferences (likes / dislikes), basic content needs, image requirements, navigation, functionality, and approximate number of pages required.
Do Some Research. Identify and understand what your competitors are doing online. Your online marketing efforts may be ineffective if you are not positioning your website as a leader in your market place. The more you can tell your web provider about your competitors and your market, the better! Any extra time you invest to learn about your competitors will help you in the end, as you’ll be better equipped to provide better direction and avoid disappointments that could result as a lack of understanding. Some web providers will include research time in their fee, however, the work is never done for free, and basic research should never be omitted or overlooked.
Consider Technical Requirements. Do you require Website Hosting, Domains, or Email? What security levels do you require? Do you require ongoing updates and maintenance? Do you need a business email account? These are all important considerations that your service provider will need to know prior to providing an estimate for services.
Decide on Timelines. Decide when you would like your website to be completed. The faster you need it the more expensive your estimates may be. Remember, that your service provider will require certain things from you such as design approvals, content (if not in your contract), and imagery selections. Be sure to plan your timelines around your realistic schedule, and your availability to participate in the process. Your service provider won’t be able to complete the project without your involvement.
Decide on Budget. Paying for a website is much like buying a car. There are basic economy cars that are practical and will get you from A to B, and there are also high performance cars that will impress your audience, and help you reach your goals faster. It’s important to keep in mind that a performance car may have a lot of bells and whistles you don’t need, and that’s precisely why the planning stage is so important.
If you do need a custom website with advanced functionality, then you will likely need a larger budget. If you choose to work with an inexpensive service provider, there is a good chance you’ll get a very basic website with limited design and functionality. This might mean more work for you, so make sure you review all quotes carefully, understand the details of what services are being provided. Always compare quotes side by side, and be sure to look at past work and testimonials. You get what you pay for in the world of web.
If you’re looking to save money, a good option may be to go with a pre-designed template that is suitable to the branding of your business / industry. Website templates are widely available on the internet and are typically very affordable for usually under $65 US. Pre-designed templates are a cost effective way to for your web provider to produce a website quickly, with only a small amount of simple branding and customization.
Prepare a Request for Proposal Document(RFP) Issuing an RFP document is an effective means to collect proposals from multiple service providers. An RFP eliminates the need for suppliers to ask questions, saving you time and energy in fielding proposals. It is also a very effective way for you to communicate the details of your website plan. Your RFP should include all of the elements discussed earlier in your “Website Plan” as well as any other details you think your suppliers should be aware of.
Online Marketing – Put Your Website to Work! Before you start the hiring process, you should also know that your website won’t automatically rank at the top of Google (Organic SEO). SEO will take time and you will probably need to bring yourself up to speed in the world of Online Marketing.
You may also want to consider outsourcing the marketing of your website if you are looking for good results and are not quite sure how to go about getting it.
There are many ways to get your website discovered online and generate leads. A professional team can help you choose the most cost effective methods, and help you get the results you are looking for.
Now that you know the process, it’s also important to understand what role(s) a website designer, programmer and online marketer can play in the marketing of your business. If you’re not quite sure what the difference is, check out our Blog “Hire a Website Designer or a Marketing Team?” to learn more.