First and foremost; if you’re a small business owner considering how useful a website would be, the answer is very. It is very useful. And understanding the basics of website development, and the essential questions to ask your developer, will help you navigate the online world as you build your business presence.
So, what is web development?
A robust and successful online presence begins with a functional website, and website development refers to the work that goes into building that website. Website development applies to everything from a single webpage to a complex social network, encompassing development tasks including web coding, scripting, server and network configuration and content management system (CMS) development. There are also specific types of web development that developers can specialise in. These are:
- Front-end development
- Backend development
- Full-stack development
- Website development
- Desktop, mobile, and game development
- Embedded development
- Security development
This brings us to the first question you should be asking your developer; what area/areas do they specialise in?
This will give you an insight into how the developer can meet your business goals.
Us? We like to keep it simple (and cost-effective) and use WordPress to design and customise our websites. For small to medium-sized businesses, a web designer – who doesn’t quote you on building a website in the ways listed above and who can focus on a unique design – would be our recommendation.
Will it be possible to edit the website?
Websites are not a ‘set and forget’ exercise, and you’re going to want an ongoing business relationship with your website designer or developer. This is an important question to ask, alongside any ongoing maintenance you’ve agreed upon (eg. hosting, domain names, security updates, SSL certificates) and it’s important to get specific on how many revisions are included in your quote, and whether they are minor (font change) or full (total site).
Will I own the website?
This is a question of intellectual property. Your website is an investment and it’s critical to have an understanding of this matter. Variations on this question are ‘what are the costs if I wish to move my website to another company?’, or ‘if your company goes under, what happens to my website?’ The answer to this question varies from developer to developer, so be sure to clarify it at the very beginning.
In addition, it’s essential to enquire whether you’ll receive all source files, access to your hosting account, and back-end administration after the launch. Will the CMS allow you to be able to make ongoing changes (eg. adding or removing pages, incorporating images) without contacting your developer?
Will my website be SEO and mobile friendly?
SEO (search engine optimisation) and mobile optimisation are essential practices to guarantee your website is built with the framework to be found online. Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress come with SEO settings and some even better SEO extensions, and often your web developer or designer will have SEO expertise of their own. Most businesses will want to rank in organic search listings, which is why it’s necessary to enquire whether your website will be built with SEO in mind, or whether the developer will build the site and then leave you to outsource the SEO to another.
And when it comes to being mobile-friendly? With over half of web traffic coming from mobile devices, and considering Google’s mobile-first indexing (where Google ranks mobile pages before desktop versions) having a mobile responsive site is imperative. This includes fast load times on mobile devices, usability features that make sense for mobile users, and keywords relevant to mobile searchers specifically.
How secure will my website be?
Security and maintenance are critical factors in a website’s performance and success. If you’re opting to have your web developers host your website, it’s critical to understand what security measures will be taken to optimise your site’s security. As a starting point, we recommend that you ask your developer about their regular CMS updates, server updates, anti-virus monitoring, monthly backups and website backups and continuity practices. Knowing up front the responsibilities of your developer when it comes to the security of your site will remove the risk for future vulnerability.
For more information on website solutions for small to medium-sized businesses, get in touch with our Newcastle web team.
Maintaining strong long-term relationships with our business customers is the key to their success.
Our industry experts know small business. We believe that your provider should be your trusted business partner; understanding your business needs and goals and putting you in the best position to execute your work. Our team takes care of it all, so there’s no chopping and changing between providers. With a thorough understanding of your business system requirements, we offer affordable, tailored solutions and dedicated service so you get the best performance possible from your IT investment.