I’m working with a couple of clients at the moment on their websites.
One is a freelancer and wants a website ‘a bit like yours’ (that’s good to hear!) so I’m going to do it myself.
The other is a larger business, so I’ve written a website specification and gone out to agencies for responses. It’s a bigger project, but one I’ve got plenty of experience in, as I’ve managed site builds for a range of people and organisations; from sole traders who just need a Wordpress site, to long-term projects with £1m+ budgets and sites that will serve hundreds of thousands of customers.
If you’re getting a website developed then there are a few things you need to think about if you’re asking someone to build it for you to make sure you get your money’s worth.
You may not need a website at all - many businesses do very well just using a Facebook page and an Instagram account. It’s not essential, it depends on who your audience is and what you want to achieve. Don’t assume chucking money at a new website will be what you need, think about the business outcomes you want to achieve and take it from there.
Ask for a guide on how to edit it yourself in the future. These days it usually isn’t that difficult, and will save you money in the long run. And the more (good) content you add to your site, the better your Google ranking will be.
Write a specification and be clear WHO your site is aimed at and WHAT you want them to do, as well as the kind of content you’d like to include on your site. And - speaking on behalf of all the web developers here - please try to stick to what you want and don’t keep changing your mind. Scope creep can be a bit of a nightmare for us freelancers!
Don’t forget domain registration. I suggest you do this yourself, so you always own your website address. I had one client who was the victim of domain name squatting. His web developer forgot to renew his domain when the 2 year agreement he had expired, and someone else bought it before he realised. It meant his website went down, and all his material with his web address on it - business cards, uniforms, vehicle livery - had to be rebranded. Nightmare! (NB - while this can happen, you can negotiate to get the website address back, particularly if you can prove you have rights over the domain).
Building for mobile is critical. According to the latest Ofcom internet usage report from 2018, 70% of adults in the UK use their smartphone to go online, and phones are now more popular than a computer to get on the internet. So I would suggest you don’t just build your website for mobile, you think about mobile first.
Do think about emergency recovery and support. If the company you are using to develop your website are also hosting it, ask about how often your site will be backed up, what the recovery plan is if your site goes down, and the hours that they provide support if something does happen.
Obviously there is a lot more you should consider, not least how much you are going to spend on a new website.
This is one question I do get asked a lot: “how much does a website cost?” The answer is, as always, it depends. Not helpful I know, but to give you an idea, the specification that I sent out that I mentioned above was sent to eight different freelancers and agencies. They all had the exact same spec, but the quotes varied wildly from £2k, up to £11k. This not only reflected the skills and experience of each agency, but they all had differing ideas about how the work could be done.
So before you go ahead and get a website for your business, have a think about why you need one - best to get it right first time.