Why I Get Paid To Build or Manage Website Development
Currently listening to Abstract Rude (Codename Scorpion) – Stop Bitin’
The web development game has changed over the years. I’ve spent time both working for large organizations building and managing website development projects and building websites myself for clients, which has been my main focus the past year along with building a team of developers and a website development model that strives on providing value for our clients.
“My son’s friend is in high school and has offered to build me a website on Wix for $500 for my small business” is something that I commonly hear from business owners. And to be completely transparent there are some cases would I would say go ahead and have her build it for you. Especially if the website isn’t business-critical.
As soon as you enter the world of “business critical” when it comes to your website being the center of your digital eco system it’s time to look to a professional. I write this, coming from a place of understanding of budgets and the importance of value. Those who know me, especially those who I have worked with know that I am all about ensuring a project is executed on a budget that is realistic for the company spending their hard earned money, and that the website provides REAL value to the business it is being built for.
What does “business critical” mean when it comes to a website? If your website currently or potentially serves as a lead generator or a point of contact for current and potential customers it is a critical component of your businesses infrastructure.
If you are launching a new business, you can still fall into this category. If your website isn’t built correctly, it will never generate leads for you.
The following advice should be taken regardless of who you are working on a website project with. I have learned throughout the years by stepping up during the project management of website development projects. Too often in the corporate world websites are developed based on the desire from upper management or executives who don’t want to, or most likely, don’t have the time to invest in understanding the full scope of the project. Websites get built, development agencies walk away after launch and a year later you are wondering why you invested that money in the first place.
Before you embark on a new website dev project with an agency partner or web developer, discuss these topics with them. Make sure they have answers for you and most importantly information that feels like it is providing you actual value.
Note that these subjects are on top of the standard requirements of a solid web developer. Your website needs to be mobile and built responsively, it also needs to be set up correctly in terms of url structures and content placement. The following are key areas that I’ve learned are rarely discussed with clients by web development firms.
Search Engine Optimization
Your website won’t rank immediately. But it needs to rank over time. Make sure you discuss both the content side of how this will work and the technical side. For example, your website needs a sitemap.xml (this can be debated, but it is best practice) so that search engines have a central place to scrape your website’s content. Too often websites are being launched without a sitemap setup. This is just one minor aspect of SEO.
Your web developer should not only develop a website for you, but they should also ensure that you have the correct business intelligence data sources set up. This means adding appropriate pixels, setting up Google Search Console and Analytics and providing some insight into how you can use them going forward. You also need to have an understanding of how you can monitor your websites analytics and related insights to understand whether or not it is functioning as desired.
Every agency who sells website development will tell you that content is critical to the success of a website! But, how are you going to add new content if you don’t know how? How are you going to ensure that your website starts ranking for the correct keywords without understanding how to correctly build a blog post. More importantly, is your business going to need to pay a web developer 100$\hour every time you need a simple sentence updated or can you do this yourself?
Technical Support & Ability
This is especially important if you have a current website and are moving to a new CMS or website. For example, if your website was built in 1999 and is running on static html files, and you are moving to wordpress your current web host may not support WordPress and it’s required database. It’s important the team you embark on this journey with can support you through the entire process and have conversations with your current web host if needed.
Understanding your digital ecosystem
Your web partner needs to understand all aspects of your digital ecosystem. How are you using your current website, social media, digital advertising and related to attracting customers, or sell online? How will the user experience of your new website impact those funnels, and how could it also improve them.
There are a lot of great web developers, agencies and firms who are providing real value to their clients. It comes from a place of passion for what they do, a strong moral compass and a desire to provide businesses with solutions as opposed to just a one-and-done sale.