Your website is one of the most important investments that your company or organization will ever make. Establishing an ongoing relationship with an experienced web developer will help ensure that you get the most out of your investment.
But what should you look for when hiring a web services firm?
1) Appropriate company size
When searching for an IT team that is the best fit for your needs, ask yourself, “What size should my IT team be?” Does your website you have mission-critical systems that require a team at the ready 24/7/365, or will a one-person shop be a better fit?
A web services firm that is too large for you may not provide the level of personalized service that you need. Are they flexible enough to change as your needs change?
A firm that is too small might not be able to manage your project effectively. While forming a relationship with a single person can be beneficial, you have to keep in mind what that individual will be doing in 2 years? Will they still be available when their work needs to be updated?
2) Customer Service Protocol
At Totera our priority is for our clients to have a positive, even fun experience. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure your web services provider is able to meet your support needs. Do they respond to emails and phone calls in a timely manner? One someone calls the Totera support line, several members of our team automatically receive text messages and emails. We have protocols in place to ensure that the right person responds in a timely manner.
3) Project Management Systems
Does the web services provider have a good process for managing projects. Some projects last several months and have many revisions. Make sure your web services provider has proven methods for tracking progress, storing important files, passwords and data, for keeping the project moving in a positive direction. Someone has to manage the project.
Make sure you hire someone you can trust because the more you are able to share with them, the better the results. Treat your web services provider like a business partner. Are you planning on selling the business? Are you going to be introducing a new product or service? Your web services provider can make sure your website supports your next move.
Your web services provider should have a thirst for knowledge so they can recommend ways to keep your website relevant in the ever-changing internet landscape.
At Totera we are constantly thinking of ways to apply new technology to help our clients.
For example: As of May 2015, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers, and smartphone usage is up 394%, and tablet usage is up 1,721% which combine to account for 60% of digital media time spent. (Comscore, April 2015). So would a mobile site, responsive site or app be the best solution for a given project? These questions are at the forefront of our minds, so our customers can focus on running their business.
6) Skill Set:
It takes a unique set of skills to build and maintain effective websites. The value of each of these skills will depend on the nature of your business and purpose of your website.
Design: There is no substitute for a custom website that is designed from the ground up with your business goals in mind. A skilled web designer is essential for creating a visually captivating website that engages your target audience.
Development: While aesthetics are important, the functionality of your website is critical. A good web developer can ensure that the information is delivered in a clear and concise way. Depending on the nature of your business, your web developer can build powerful tools to automate your business processes and provide valuable service to your customers right from your website 24/7/365.
Marketing: How will your website support your overall marketing plan? Make sure your website captures visitor behavior. Even if you hate numbers, I guarantee you will find the information useful and interesting. Use visitor behavior to hone your marketing efforts, expand or contract different sections of the website, and create more engaging content.
Website Management and Maintenance: You know your business and your industry, so being able to make updates yourself is important. In most cases, you are the best person on the team to keep your website content fresh, engaging and relevant. Equally as important is having your site periodically reviewed by a web professional who is well versed in the latest search engine algorithms, mobile optimization standards and emerging technologies.
A final thought
Define success of the project and share that with your web services team. Remember it takes work on your part to ensure that the project is successful. Be prepared, establish clear goals, and be honest about your own expertise and limitations.
Your website goals should support your business goals, which should support your life goals.
Fortunately, you can find all of these skills at The CoLab!
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Frank DePalma is a web development consultant and has been instramental in founding many companies including Totera Web Systems, MyCityScene.com, Quimper Merchantile, and The CoLab. More about Frank here >