Web design questions: what to ask when buying a website
If you need a business website, there are a huge range of options available. As building your business online is essential in today’s market, it’s equally essential that you ask yourself some serious questions about the process.
You wouldn’t buy a house without checking that it wasn’t structurally sound. By similar logic, please don’t put your business onto the Web with a shaky foundation!
Luckily, we’re decent sorts at Trendzer: that’s why we’ve written up a few considerations that you owe to yourself, your business partner, and possibly even your family to ponder over. So, let’s look at the
6 main factors to consider when you need a website
There are a lot of factors you should think about when you are considering buying a new website. We’ve put a list together to help you get an understanding of your requirements. These include a series of questions such as:
- What should you ask about your website service provider?
- What do you need to know about domains and hosting?
- What do you need to know about SEO?
- What should you consider about page content?
- What do you need to know about website design and functionality?
- How will you be supported during and after the build?
Your service provider: what’s their story?
A lot of this comes down to personal preference – do you like to support small businesses or do you prefer to go with an established global brand? Freelancers or smaller agencies may provide a more personalised experience. By contrast, a larger outfit may be able to cut costly overheads and offer a standardised product.
Basically, you should have a good feeling about the build process and the company. After all, they’ll be taking your hard-earned money and representing your business online. So, it’s important to consider the following questions:
- How many people work for the company? Who will be your point of contact?
- Can they help you achieve your goals? What kinds of businesses have they developed websites for in the past?
- Is all work carried out on-site or does the company outsource and use freelancers?
- How do they approach security and what will be done to update your site?
Hosting and web domains: the foundations
Every website needs to be hosted on a web domain – it’s just how the Web works! You’ll need to purchase at least one domain in order to get your site online.
“Freemium” template websites (such as free WiX, Wordpress or Squarespace sites) will give you a sub-domain for nothing, but this will not really help your business. Search engines don’t give high ratings when companies host on someone else’s domain, which is reflected in search rankings.
Paid freemium options of companies like WiX or Squarespace usually come with a free hosted domain included. These are better for your rankings, but just make sure that you own the rights to the domain name. Some companies retain the rights to both website content and domain names.
Your best choice is a website with hosting and domain inclusive and the intellectual properties of the content being in your name. That means your most important questions to ask your designers are:
- Do they provide hosting? How much extra (if anything) will hosting cost?
- Will you own the domain or be renting it from the provider?
- Will they help you to transfer your domain?
Website design: functionality and appearance
Everyone has their own talents and limitations. You could be forgiven for not being able to put together an attractive website by yourself: it takes a lot of knowledge and skills.
If you aren’t a gifted coder or have no eye for aesthetics, then you should give some thought to how you are going to make your site look good if you are opting for a DIY template. Nothing puts customers off like a website that is hard to look at!
Source: pennyjuice.com from webpagesthatsuck.com
If you opt for a managed service, your developer will take care of the design issues from ensuring that colours don’t clash horribly to knowing which fonts help communicate character. They also consider principles such as the importance of what appears “above the fold”.
Ideally, your developer will factor in this kind of information to ensure that your website is not only styled as you requested, it also looks appealing to first-time visitors. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a portfolio of websites from a web design agency. Other questions that you should consider are:
- Which Content Management System (or CMS) do they use? Can it provide the features that you need, e.g. media players?
- Will your site by mobile-friendly?
- Will you have full control of the website after the build process is finished?
- How easy is it to add images or change the design? Can you reverse changes if you don’t like something you’ve done?
Search engine optimisation
There are two things to think about here: setup and ongoing maintenance. As we’ve said in previous
blog articles, SEO is a lot like housekeeping or maintenance: you need to keep at it after you have got things in the order and way you want.
If you are going with a managed service, then you should consider asking what your website support will be like, including:
- Will you receive any optimisation advice?
- Will someone do SEO on your behalf?
- How often will you get help from your staff?
On the other hand, if you have a DIY-style templated website, then you may want to research the answers to questions such as:
- How will your web pages get best practise optimisation? Will you have to learn the basics yourself?
- Are there guides or apps on SEO included with the website?
- How much knowledge does the DIY SEO take to implement?
Page content: site and page structure
Many SEOs would suggest that you should have your site structure in mind before you have even purchased your website. That would allow time for research into what search terms your site should be based around.
But no matter where you’re at in the decision-making process, you should realise that in an ideal world, you would have a landing page for each of your services or products. As search engines display page results, you really need a perfectly optimised page (like below) to attract traffic.
Some web design agencies will use replicated content from other sites and change the names up. This is a bad idea, as it can lead to lower rankings and also fails to capture the unique essence of your business. The big questions to ask about your content are:
- Who will write the content? Can you change it if you’re not happy with it?
- Do the writers have a working knowledge of SEO?
- How easy is it to add pages, text, images and videos?
- Who will hold the intellectual property rights when the contract is complete?
Technical support: assistance and expertise
Let’s stop for a second and compare your website to a shop. If the website goes down, then your imaginary shop is effectively closed for business. Ideally, you should go into your purchase knowing that if something goes wrong, you have a designated contact who can give you some answers and timelines.
You may not particularly want to have to deal with a third-party support desk on the other side of the world, or a vast and sprawling organisation that has departments that don’t know about the existence of other departments! So make sure to ask:
- Is there website maintenance and training available to you?
- Who will help if there are technical difficulties? When can they be reached?
- What is the standard response time from the technical support department?
Think about the whole package
As we’ve advised before, a successful website should really be maintained with regular updates and occasional performance reviews. This means that there are a few final questions you should ask before you make your final decision:
- How are you hoping to attract customers? Will you be relying on SEO, social media support, or paid advertising?
- Do you have time to manage your website? Is there someone in your company who can?
- Are you confident about adding content and using a CMS?
All of the above factors are important. It will take time and effort to market your company using SEO or social media. It will take money to use paid advertising. You should figure out which of these approaches is best for your needs and then factor in the degree of help you require.
Add your company’s unique knowledge and time needs into your questions for your website service provider. You should have a good idea of what you need to build your business online with a strong website. Good luck!
Warning: sales pitch follows!
At Trendzer, we have over 10,000 small businesses on our website platform. Our SEO team have helped more than a thousand UK companies to achieve success with their site optimisation. To learn more about our web design and online marketing services, browse
the rest of our site.