Whether you’re a one-man band with a couple of clients or you’re a growing company that is expanding across the country, having a professionally-designed website for your business is essential in 2019.
Indeed, your website should serve as the ‘front door’ of your business, and be the first port of call when any potential customer is on the look-out for information on your products and services.
If it’s not built for modern users with features such as responsiveness and an SSL certificate, people will click back to Google and visit one of your competitors’ sites instead, so failure to invest in a well-designed website is not an option.
Finding the right web designer for your small business can be tough, which is why we’ve put together seven things to think about before choosing the right one.
Be sure to read through this list and put together your own list of questions to ask a potential web designer, and you’ll be able to get the most bang for your buck and have a business website that’s fit for purpose.
How much will it cost?
There’s no getting away from the fact that business web design can be expensive.
The truth is that you get what you pay for in the web design world, so if you hire your neighbour’s son to design a website in their bedroom, then it’s probably not going to be as effective as a site designed by a professional agency.
It pays to invest in a well-designed website, and you’ll save money in the long run as you won’t have to pay for endless updates and changes.
Get a clear price before you sign up, and make sure you’re aware of the cost of changes and edits. Maintenance is something else to think about – will your site still work in 5 years’ time?
What will it be built on?
Most web designers build their websites on software called a content management system, and one of the most popular CMSs is WordPress.
It’s important that you know what your site will be built on, as free open-source software is much better than a subscription-based CMS, as you’ll have to cough up monthly or annual payments to keep your website running.
Some CMSs are also more secure than others, which is something else to take into consideration.
Can I make my own edits?
If you have to give your web designer a call every time you want to add a new product to your website or change your opening hours, the ongoing cost of your new site is going to add up to be thousands of pounds.
Ask your designer if they can build on a CMS that allows you to make your own edits, whether that’s adding new blog posts or entire new pages.
If the designer doesn’t want you to make changes, then the chances are that they’re only limiting your access to make more money – get it signed into your contract that you’ll have full and free administrative access over your new site and files, and ask for a tutorial or handbook so that you can your staff can learn how to make edits and changes as and when required.
Will it work on all devices?
In today’s times, more consumers access websites from their smartphones and tablets than on a desktop computer, and as such your website needs to look its best on a range of devices.
Responsive web design means that sites will automatically adapt to screen size and device type, meaning you won’t have to design separate websites for mobile and desktop.
Make sure your web designer designers a site with all of the necessary device types in mind, and do your own testing to make sure before you launch. You don’t need to go out and buy lots of mobile phones and tablets – online tools like Screenfly can be used as an alternative.
Has it been optimised for search engines?
Search engine optimisation has never been more important.
Today, at least 60% of all web sessions start on Google and Bing, and the majority of consumers are going to search for your business rather than type in your website address.
As such, you need to be sure that your new website has been properly optimised for search engines, with the necessary code and structure so that search engine robots can read your pages and rank them accordingly.
This doesn’t mean your website will show up first overnight – you’ll still need to invest in a search engine optimisation strategy to compete on Google, but if your website has been properly optimised and includes the right title tags and keywords, you’ll be well on your way.
How secure will my website be?
Security has never been such a hot topic online, and some of the world’s biggest brands, including Google, Facebook, and the Marriott Hotel chain have all suffered from data breaches in the last year, causing their users’ data to enter into the wrong hands.
For UK businesses, that’s not only bad publicity but means you could be fined hundreds or even thousands of pounds under the General Data Protection Regulation – proving security is key.
As well as installing an SSL certificate on your website, you should think about things such as backing up files, ensuring personal information is encrypted, and that every single part of your website is regularly stress tested and kept up to date to prevent hacks and leaks.
Will it be better than my competitors’ sites?
Finally, ask your web developer whether they can make your website look better than one of your competitors.
The chances are that you have lots of ideas and inspiration for a new site design, so bring them all to the table and let your web designer add their own flare.
If your site looks outdated or doesn’t conform to the latest design practices, the chances are it will get stale very quickly, so think about ways that you can make it better than the competition.
There you have it – some of the most important things to consider when designing a site for your small or medium-sized business. Whatever you end up with, we wish you the best of luck!