How can you choose a web developer to design and build your website?
The first step in selecting a vendor to develop your Web site is to decide
what skill sets you need your vendor to have. Three factors shape this decision:
the skills of the employees at your company,
the skills of the vendors and consultants you already use, and
the design and functionality requirements of your new Web site.
Here are the seven fundamental areas of expertise that companies typically require
for developing an effective Web site. First, evaluate what skill sets are available
to you within your company. Then, you can establish clear vendor selection criteria
based on the supplemental skills you need.
1. Strategic Marketing A strong marketing strategy should guide all other aspects
of your Web development process. It does not matter how lovely the graphic design
is or how many clever features the site has if it does not clearly communicate
your company's fundamental brand messages and the benefits you offer customers.
For maximum effectiveness and the highest return on your Web development investment,
your Web marketing program should integrate with and support your overall marketing
2. Graphic Design The look and feel of your Web site is important. Ideally,
it should not only be professional and attractive, but also blend with your
offline collateral and other corporate materials. High quality graphic design
is one of the best marketing investments small and mid-size companies can make.
Quality design enhances a company's credibility and the perceived quality of
its products and services.
3. Web Design and User Interface Planning Great graphic design is useless if
the graphics are not well-adapted to the technical requirements of the Internet
and the information on the site is poorly organized. It is important to plan
how visitors will experience your site. Good Web design ensures that your pages
load quickly and correctly across different types of Internet connection and
browser combinations. Effective user interface planning ensures that visitors
find the information they need quickly and easily.
4. Programming Developers' programming skills vary widely. Some firms offer
only basic HTML and CGI scripting services. Others can provide custom application
development, e-commerce implementation, and complex database programming. More
is not always better where programming is concerned. Developers at both ends
of the programming skills spectrum can create effective Web sites. It is the
complexity of the features your site requires that will determine what level
of programming expertise you require.
5. Copy Writing You will need content for every page on your site - someone
will have to write it! You can write it yourself. You can adapt offline marketing
materials for some of the copy you will need. You can hire a writer to create
all the copy you need from scratch.
6. Search Engine Optimization If your site cannot be found in the search engines
after it has been launched, you are loosing out on one of the greatest benefits
of having a Website, exposure to new markets and clients. Make sure that your
Web vendor can prove by actual DEMONSTRATION that they can build sites that
will rank well in the most popular search engines especially Yahoo, Google,
and MSN. Be patient though as it sometimes can take up to 6-9 months before
the search engines or Web directories get around to adding your site to their
index. They are VERY busy adding millions of new pages to their database each
and every month.
7. Customer Service You should feel comfortable with your Web vendors. It is
entirely reasonable for you to expect them to explain the major aspects of your
project in terms you can understand. Make sure you understand what is to be
done and why each part of the project is important.
Putting Together the Development Team
Once you determine what skills you need, you can start interviewing and evaluating
vendors. Sometimes a single firm can provide all of the skills you need to develop
you site. Other times, you will need the services of multiple vendors. If this
is the case, make sure each vendor understands the overall objectives of the
project and is willing to cooperate professionally with the other vendors.
If a vendor you like doesn't offer all the services you need, be sure to ask
if the vendor has a relationship with another firm that can provide those services.
At Art Schobey Interactive, we offer full Web development services, but frequently
work with outside graphic designers, consultants, copy writers, and high-level
programmers as our clients needs' and preferences require. Frequently, we coordinate
the activities of these other vendors for our clients to make sure that all
of the work goes smoothly and stays within budget. Sometimes the other vendors
coordinate the project and we are simply part of the team. Recommending resources
and coordinating a team of vendors and consultants is an area where a good Web
development vendor can add significant value and help you manage your costs