The key things to consider when you are hiring someone to build your website:
1) What is the technology used for my website?
I use WordPress – an open source “content management system” and non-proprietary software application. WordPress is very popular due to it’s being very user (and Google) friendly. WordPress gives you the ability to manage your website on your own – with easy editing ability from any internet browser – and I post video tutorials online for your learning.
Your website should be MOBILE RESPONSIVE – a mobile responsive website provides an easy experience for your visitors when viewing your site across many screen sizes and platforms. For example, your website pages will automatically resize to fit into one column for scrolling vertically on smart phones and tablets.
2) Will I own and control the HOSTING, and the WEBSITE?
(You should own and control your hosting account and domain registration — not your marketing firm or web designer).
I setup the hosting account in your name/ownership. You own and control your website. If you prefer to work with a new developer in the future, it will be easy for a new WordPress designer to work on your site.
3) Will I have the ability to easily “SEO” (search engine optimize) the website for improving your search engine rank?
You will have an SEO-friendly site with WordPress – your website includes a ‘blog’ (add articles & news), and you can easily customizing each of your pages with SEO features included to allow you to add unique “page titles” and “meta descriptions” for each page or blog post. I install Google Analytics on your site when the site goes LIVE.
4) Will I have ongoing costs for the website?
(Costs should be minimal – Hosting cost should be approximately $20/month for high speed hosting (add $8/month for the SSL certificate) in a hosting account that you own/control, and NO ongoing fees paid to the website designer unless you request services. I install software to help you quickly make a backup of your website, and you can do your own ‘updates’ of the software on your site easily also.)
5) What is the background and skill of the website designer I hire?
Are you hiring a website “programmer” ? (Some of these people work cheap, but have poor design skills… so ask for them to show you samples of their work). Are you hiring a graphic artist? (You might get a beautiful site, but one that is ineffective or poorly built from a marketing perspective – or worse, badly coded in the backend such that it’s difficult to make a change, or it’s vulnerable to being hacked.) Are you hiring a firm that outsources their work and customer service functions overseas? Who will you talk with about your project?
(In working with me, you’ll always only talk with me directly on the phone – and I’m based in the USA.)
Ideally, you would find someone with experience in online marketing, graphic design, and the more ‘geeky’ technical skills required, where the website developer uses best practices in web design, development, and marketing strategy.
6) Will my website stand the test of time?
Some “WordPress” developers provide low cost sites because they purchase either a very cheap or free “theme” in which to design your site on. This is so risky – and I have sometimes had to fix sites where my clients had cheap sites built — if something on the web is ‘free’ for use – it can cost far more in the long run, because the theme files may be badly coded such that they “break” (contain bugs) as soon as we do an upgrade to WordPress software – or they can be vulnerable to hacking – which is costly to repair.
7) How do I protect my website from hacking?
I do custom design on a solid and secure framework. While no site is immune from hacking – I take steps to make the site more secure and safe – and I install two security plugins on the site to help prevent a hack. (For years, I never saw a hacked site… and this has become very prevalent in the last year, such that additional measures are required when building a site. The best way to prevent a hack of your website is to keep the software up to date. I provide tutorials that tell you how to do that yourself… or you can call me to do that for you.
8) How do I setup and own my domain name? Who controls my domain name?
If you do not yet own your “domain name” (dotcom or dotnet), you can go to this link to search for a name and “register” it in your name/ownership: (cost $16/annual) http://www.catch8.com/
9) What does a custom designed site cost and how do I pay you?
I create a unique and professional design to match your company brand image. If you are new in business, I’ll help you clarify your brand image. A typical website project costs around $1500 (with a deposit amount of 50% to get started, and balance due when we GO LIVE). I invoice clients from my business Paypal account – which protects you and allows you to use your credit card to make payments.
Ask the website designer if they are using a ‘free’ or ‘low cost’ template design — or if they are doing “custom” design for your project.
Also ask the website designer about ON-GOING fees — what is the cost to make a change to your site after the site is LIVE? Hourly fee? Or flat rate per project?
10) How long will it take to complete my website project?
Most website projects can be completed in 2-3 weeks. I do ask my clients to commit to complete their project with me within 4-5 weeks.
11) How much work will I (the client / financial advisor) have to do to create my site?
When you hire a website designer – they should be doing the design work (not you, the financial advisor). I search and buy copyright protected images for your website. I do the design work for you and present you with a design concept (actual website that includes graphics) within a week of our “design interview.” We meet to review and integrate your feedback on the design, and we then insert any custom page copy/content that you have.
(Be sure you ask this question of any template service — I’ve heard from clients that they had to do all the design concept thinking and tell their designer very specifically how to design their site. Some template services ask you to choose a specific design – and then they change the colors and add your page copy to that template design.)