Originally published on September 11, 2015. Updated on February 13, 2020.
There are many factors that go into choosing a website development company. To be perfectly honest with you, we hear a lot of horror stories from businesses about website builds, whether they’ve tried to build a website themselves or they’ve hired a company to help. We figured we would just call it out and pass on some tips to help you choose the right website developer/firm for your website.
Website Development And Design
First off, there are several types of website projects. You might be looking for your first ever website, you might be looking for help with a website redesign or you might be looking to refresh your website content. The scope of work will also depend on your budget and the size of your website.
Here, we’ll run you thorough the basic website development process for each:
Building A Website From Scratch
First-time web projects are often the hardest, because it means building everything from the ground up. These websites are usually around 7-10 pages and require like purchasing a domain, setting up the hosting, and making sure the design is optimized for different devices, including mobile.
One of the hardest parts about first-time website builds is putting together all of the content. That means creating a homepage, writing your about page, defining your products or services and collecting all of the necessary right photos, text and contact information.
More often than not, most websites get bogged down with one element: writing the text. We recommend that every website has text that is professionally written for several reasons:
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever-evolving science, which basically revolves around predicting which combination of keywords are most likely to be searched on sites like Google so that your website appears near the top. This is really important when it comes to helping potential customers find your website. This is one area where professional copywriters will make a big difference, because they’re up-to-date with all the latest trends.
- Tone: The language you use on your website is just as important as the design in establishing a “look and feel” that correctly represents your brand. Communication styles evolve quickly, but the past few years have seen a consistent and strengthening trend towards more conversational and approachable wording. Sometimes that can be a challenge for business owners when we want to get specific and “talk shop” about what it is we do, which is why professionals can help.
- Time: You have a business to run and more often than not, there isn’t time to write the content yourself. You are investing money into your website and the last thing you want is to have the whole process held up waiting on text. A professional will make sure it’s finished on time.
Starting from scratch? Find out why we recommend building your site with WordPress.
Website Redesign Services
Sometimes, your website might simply be outdated. It’s important to remember that a website design isn’t a one-stop project. In fact, experts recommend they’re updated every 2-3 years so that it stays on top of all the latest trend. Usually this means undertaking a complete redesign, including new photos and updated text, though some elements may move over from one site to the other.
In our experience, these sites are often a bit larger and more developed because you’ll be much more in tune with what’s working and what’s not within your business. The website development process for redesigns usually includes:
- Updating for new technology
- New design to meet emerging trends
- Updated content for better user experience and Goggle rankings
- New security measures
- Taking advantage of new options in SEO and content marketing
Want to learn more? Here are 10 signs it’s time to redesign your website.
If the time has come to refresh the content on your website, you’ll need to engage a copywriter. A copywriter will be able to help you refine your messaging, update the language used to make sure your content comes across as being modern, define your products and services and make sure every page is optimized for SEO. They may also be able to help you create a social media strategy.
Website Development Costs
Regardless of whether you need a brand-new website, a website redesign or just a refresh, making sure you hire the right company is absolutely crucial. There are a variety of options available, including doing it yourself, hiring a solo developer, an offshore team or a professional agency.
Both the solo developer and the offshore team often charge by the hour to complete a project and that rate is based on their overhead. An offshore web company may charge anywhere from $10 – $40/hr while a solo web developer in the US is typically charging between $25 – $100/hr.
Especially if you are just getting your company started, these prices may look very, very good to you, but there are some challenges involved with both the sole developer and the offshore team.
There are several different things you will need to consider in making the right choice:
- User Experience Design
- Visual Design
- Project Management
- Quality Content (text) Creation
It can be difficult to find all of these things in one place. For example, doing it yourself means spending hours upon hours researching and wrestling with unfamiliar website development tools. Hiring an offshore team might lead to problems with language barriers and time differences. A solo developer will be an expert in a few things from that list, but probably not them all.
Okay, we admit we’re a little bit biased, but we do genuinely believe that a professional agency will give you the best bang for your buck. Take Beacon Media + Marketing, for example: we have a team of professionals who specialize in design, content creation, coding, SEO, even photography. We will also give you an account manager, who will walk you through the process from start to finish.
Looking to convert leads? Here is the anatomy of a high-converting landing page.
Website Development Process
Regardless of which route you take, we highly recommend putting together a document that sets out exactly what you want on your website. It doesn’t have to be long – usually about 1-2 pages is enough. It should cover what style of website you want (modern, traditional, colorful, classic, etc.), which pages are crucial to the site (About Us, Services, Portfolio, Staff, Contact Us, etc.), and any goals for the site (inform, collect leads, educate, connect with clients, e-commerce, etc.).
It’s also very helpful to include links to examples of other websites you like and explain what you like about them. For instance, is it the way the colors are combined, the layout, or maybe the navigation that appeals to you? Using this document when you start approaching web developers will make sure you both start on the same page – literally. It’s a great tool to help you get more consistent estimates from company to company, and a company worth hiring should be asking these questions and more.