Finding the “experts” who will build you a quality website

How do you choose reliable and trustworthy partners to help you create and administer your eCommerce presence?

Ask them the right questions, and know what answers to expect.

Firstly, most “web development” organisations are not marketing experts… they are “technicians” and “creative designers” – often, this is the same person, who, having done a bit of graphic design (perhaps for A levels) is a dab-hand at Adobe Creative Suite and knows how to build a mean graphic. Then, they learn how to use a CMS (Content Mangement System) like Drupal or WordPress, and they then call themselves “Web Designers”.

They may show you a portfolio of sites they have built – and that’s a good thing, because you can make a list of these, then you can end your first meeting with them. Your next step is to contact as many of their portfolio clients (via their websites) to find out if the site is actualy DOING what they had intended it to do.

Basically… find out from the CLIENTS whether working with this web developer is likely to produce the desired result. If previous (existing) customers of this web developer are happy, then it’s safe to move onto step three – which is your second meeting with the web developer.

In this meeting, you will describe your overall OBJECTIVE for your website, so have a good idea of what you want it to DO for you. A website is a business tool that – like any business tool – must perform certain things and achieve measurable results. At the root of this is one simple premise:-

A business website must measurably contribute to the efficient operations of the company, in finding new business and assisting existing customers in managing their relationship with the business.

If your site is eCommerce, then a key benchmark is its capacity to sell your goods and services. eCommerce is a detailed and complex arena, and many web developers wh claim to know what they are doing, don’t in fact know even the basics. Tread carefully… an online shop needs expertise.

Today, the fundamental parameter on which sites are evaluated (both by search engines and people), is in their ease-of-use. Popularly called the USER EXPERIENCE – or “UX” – the easier, faster and more logical your website is to use, the better people will like it, and the more the search engines will take notice of it. This requires keeping up to date with not only the latest “trends” in user behaviour, but also knowing how to implement technology to leverage the benefits associated with modern browsing habits. Your website MUST be able (technically) to deliver a User Experience that is superior, enjoyable (or at the very least, relaxing) and easy.

Most people now access the www via their hand-held (mobile) devices. The “limitations” of these devices, including their smaller screens, compact browser packages and slow download speeds, all have to be factored into the picture. Your site must be built using a “responsive” template or theme… which auto-adjusts its look, feel and behaviour according to the device on which is being viewed.

 

TECHNICAL vs CONTENT

The technical structure of your site must deliver the performance features that people and search engines now expect. The content (words and pictures) must now be loaded up so that it can be viewed and made sense of by visitors. Again, it is better to employ a skilled and experienced content manager – whether this is a free-lancer, or a member of the team. Not only should they know how to write, but should also have a good grasp of the technical fundamentals of the platform on which the site is built. They must know where to position things – how to categorise them and how to make navigation to this information logical and easy.