5 Questions Your Web Developer Should Ask You
So you’ve decided you ‘need a website’, and you’ve set up your meeting with your web developer, but you’re a business owner, not a geek so what do you think they’ll ask you? More importantly, what should they ask you?
You should hope you’ll be asked some of the questions below, and if you don’t it should maybe raise some red flags if this is the only person you’re speaking to about your online presence. If some of the questions below don’t get asked, there’s a high risk that you’ll end up with only a website, not an online presence. There’s a subtle different between the two, but if you search for hotels and other businesses by name today you’ll find that more often than not, it’s not just your website that displays, and if you’re not in control of the other listings, you’re not in control of your online reputation and brand.
I’ve met too many business owners who have created a ‘cheap’ website, then realise it’s not working for them. You may end up in 6 months, or a couple of years realising the website wasn’t cheap, as it has cost you a lot of lost business due to it not being found.
Questions You Should Be Asked
Although this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list you can find a sample list of questions below that you should be asked in your initial or secondary meeting.
1. What are your business goals?
Why would you bother paying money for a website if it’s not going to reflect your business goals? Your calls to action should reflect what you want your current and potential customers to do. If you don’t reflect your goals, it would be like printing an expensive brochure without knowing what the brochure was about. If you can’t answer that question then you probably should probably reevaluate where your business is at. If your web developer doesn’t ask a question similar to this, then you’ll end up with some ‘cookie cutter’ website that may look really funky, but it may not work for you. Don’t assume that a pretty website will drive business.
2. What terms do you think your customers will search for you using?
If you don’t get asked what keywords you want to be ranked for, then your developer isn’t thinking about the content of your website, or what keywords should be in the page titles. It’s an easy out as you could have two identical looking websites, but if one is optimised for search, it will work a lot better for you, and as a normal web user those subtle changes are invisible as they are in the code that delivers that web page to your browser. It may be invisible to you, but it’s one of the most visible parts to the search engines.
Even if you are a mainstream business don’t assume that your web developer knows the main keywords for your industry – you may be able to reel off product names, industry specific terms or brand names that they have never head of before.
3. What services do you offer and what are your unique selling points?
If you’re a builder or a plumber or any other business, how do you stand out against your competitors? It could be as simple as you clean up every day after you leave the worksite, or you have free WiFi in your hotel. USP’s may be the thing that makes your website visitors convert with you rather than your competitors.
The services you offer should drive the content of your website. If you want a cheap website that has one page to cover your garage that offers valeting, servicing, 6 monthly compulsory checkups, puncture repairs, maintenance classes, recovery and towing and lots more, then don’t expect to rank well in Google for all of those terms with one single page.
4. Would you like to update your content yourself?
When you create a website, there should be a ‘CMS’ (content management system) behind it. This is a fancy term for something that allows someone to update the content of the website. If you’d like to update the content yourself rather than spending $200 for every update, then make sure your web developer knows this, and ask to see what you have to do. I’ve seen some horrendous content management systems that make it very tedious to make updates, and lock you in to the web company where a perfectly straightforward WordPress website would do. If you’re not on an industry standard content management system it also makes it harder to move from your current web company if you fall out with them, and that means your cheap website will cost you at least twice as much if you have to redevelop it. You should own your website.
If you don’t have the inclination to update any content yourself, that’s OK just ensure you’re not held to ransom for each update.
5. What are the key call to actions you’d like to have on your website?
You should consider your website and pages in terms of call to actions as much as possible, but without being ‘spammy’. Someone may check out your website but not quite be ready to buy your product or use your service yet, but would you like to capture their email for the future (one of the cheapest forms of online marketing)? Imagine if you’re a flower shop and you have 10,000 local people check out your website a year then they disappear. Wouldn’t you like to be able to remind the guys 2 weeks before Valentines day and get some more sales?
Calls to action could change between pages. One one page you may want to capture an email, on another you may want to book an appointment. On some websites such as hotels you generally want a website guest to book a stay so why not have the booking widget visible on every page?
And There’s More…
This is just scratching the surface of some of the questions you should be asked when developing a new website, or revamping an existing one. To provide a comprehensive brief you will want to consider branding, layout and some of the more subtle technical questions if you are providing anything like ecommerce on your site.
I hope this has helped you for your next meeting with your web developer. These questions aren’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start to get you thinking of what traps you may fall into, and to realise that a website can be slightly more complicated that just throwing up your address and opening hours online – there are plenty of other places you can do that.
As a business owner it’s probably not your area of expertise so these should at least help you be in the driving seat and ensure you are positioning yourself to get an online presence that works for you, not them. It’s not your fault that you don’t know how to build a website, but that shouldn’t put you off engaging with a company that you trust and can help you through the journey.
When you are looking at taking control of your online presence you have to be aware of third party websites such as TripAdvisor and other review websites that impact your online reputation. Online is the ‘new’ word of mouth where social proof means everything. If you are not aware of these sites and don’t take control of them you don’t know what people are saying about you, and your business listing will likely be a bog standard one that doesn’t truly reflect your services or brand. Ensure you don’t spend all of your online marketing budget just on your website as these other sites also affect your search engine rankings. There are more compicated elements that can be on our website that can really help your local search engine optimisation (or ‘local SEO’) that many web developers are unlikely to be aware of.
As a business owner you should realise that web development is a skill that takes years to learn, as is search engine optimisation, or graphic design so if you get one person to do it all you’re making compromises that will likely mean you won’t get as much business via online as you could.
Did you miss the first part in this series? Read “Why Your Business Doesn’t Need (Just) a Website“, and look out for the next in the series “What Questions You Should Ask About Your Online Presence”….coming soon.
If you’d like some help redeveloping your online presence, or just need some pointers drop me a line via the contact page. Here’s to getting your online presence ‘Fully Charged’!