SCORE, in their Small Business Success blog, published a bunch of tips for hiring a website developer. We don’t have a course in internet development, only marketing, but we’ve seen hundreds of websites over the years, and have very seldom not made a comment on what the developer has done. So, here are our and SCORE’s accumulated wisdome on the subject. In addition Chet Holmes and has recently weighed in on the subject on radio ads, but knowing who we are, he’ll not send us his tips. We need to train Chet on playing nice with the competitiors.
There are millions of website developers out there, around the world, and 90-95% of them just aren’t that current on what’s going on digitally, or are out to lunch on SEO, or are bad designers to boot.
1. Make sure the site represents who your company really is. It should have a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that separates your company from the rest of the pack ,whether the pack is around the block or around the world. We have a course in USPs, A03, and it’s worth thousands, not just the $29 we charge. The lack of a USP, or a bad one (‘we put our customers first’ is a favorite offender; well, of course you do).
2. The developer should have some expertise in meta tags, which are the phrases that web search engines use to find you. For example, we use ‘online business schools’, among others. You can look at these for any site by using ‘view’ and ‘source’ on older MS programs.
3. HTML (hypertext markup language) or CMS? For most sites, HTML, although old, is fine. For sites with a lot of content, your developer should write in a Content Management System (CMS) so you can make changes easily to your site. Word Press is probably the leading one, along with Tumblr, Drupal or Joomla.
4. Make sure you have an exit questionnaire on your site, so you can get a feel for what kinds of customers are looking at the site, and whether they’re your target market. The questionaire should be no more than 3-5 questions.
5. If people register on your site for something, give them a gift of some sort. Free assessments are good. Gift certificates, too. You should be able to register via Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. for retail-oriented sites.
6. Make it easy to navigate around your site; navigation bars should be easy to find and use. Page links should work!
7. Make it easy to buy products on your site if that’s what you’re selling. Amazon is a model. But, they don’t have an 800 number if you run into problems or have a question. Microsoft and Google are terrible at selling products over their sites. If you do a questionnaire, you’ll keep track of what’s going on on your site.
8. Don’t be entranced by the next shiny object. Put new technology on your site when you think it will influence your customers to purchase. Generally, videos are good, especially when a relationship is important or product use difficulties arise.