Asking questions can help make the right choice
Commissioning a web site is probably one of the most important, and riskiest, projects a business owner can undertake. Like any other decision, whether finding a great store front or even printing a brochure, you know that the wrong choice can seriously affect the flow, image and future of your business.
This decision is made harder by the fact that it seems that everyone either is, or knows, a web designer, each telling you that they can promote your business ahead of all of your competitors.
Unfortunately, with so many web designers making similar bold claims, many business owners, at least the first time out, settle on the first person who says they can do the job.
I find this unusual when considering that their whole business image and possibly future is being put blindly into someone else's hands without requiring any proof. When interviewing web designers, there are some very simple checks you can do to gauge their ability.
1. Confirm what you're getting - The first question you need to ask is, "What kind of site will you be selling me?"
One thing I have mentioned many times is that most web designers simply download free open source software and templates, sell them to you and move on.
The most common open source packages are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. If the designer says any of these, ask them how many current bugs it has.
At last check, WordPress has around 3,500 open bugs, Joomla has almost 8,000, and Drupal has around 13,500.
Furthermore, hacking open source is prevalent; all you need to do is Google "how to hack wordpress admin" (or Joomla or Drupal) and you will see millions of results demonstrating how easy it can be to get into what could be your website.
While many people think, "I'm too small for a hacker to attack," this could not be further from the truth. Hackers work under the radar; they want to gain access to smaller sites with lesser security so that their actions will not be noticed.
With potential ongoing threats, you need to make sure that your designer takes the time to regularly update the software. Of course this will therefore cost you more money ongoing.
By comparison - We do not sell or use WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. Ten years ago, we created our own range of WebUpdate sites in-house and maintain as high security as possible for our clients.
If a hacker tries those hacking tequniques on one of our sites, they are detected immediately and blocked from all of our client sites on that server.
2. Just say "Prove it" - All web designers say they can get you onto the first page of Google, but the bottom line is, there are only 10 available places on the first page, and you will have to compete against all of your competitors that are online.
One thing to determine is how they intend to get you seen. Either you will have to pay to be seen, which is very expensive, or they say they will get you free search results, which is much harder.
To cut to the chase, simply ask them to provide a few client sites, and which free searches they can be found for. If they can do what they say, they will be more than happy to brag about it.
By comparison - Because our sites come with in-depth visitor tracking, we easily provide several traffic logs on our website, showing the hundreds or even thousands of search terms where the client is being found, for free.
Furthermore, if a client is not being found for a particular search term that they want, WebUpdate sites tell them what they need to do to achieve that.
If you have concerns with your web presence, 2014 is the perfect time to look into our WebUpdate system sites, which take advantage of advanced marketing, SEO and promotion features to give your business the best competitive edge online.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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