Hiring a good web designer / developer has become a daunting task as there are many things to worry about other than simply designing a good usable site. I have done some research on both local and outsourced competition recently and have seen a number of sites that have a great design but lack in both SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and speed. There can be many reasons for this such as lack of client budget, designer laziness or a lack of knowledge on the client or designer side. What you need to know as a client is that SEO and site speed are as important as a good design.
When you are looking for a freelancer or company to design your site, there are a few things that you need to do to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.
- Get references and check out other sites they have designed.
Ask for references and completed projects that were similar to your specific budget. If your budget is $2000 and I show you a site that cost $10,000 to create, you will be let down with the end result.
- Visit the sites on a mobile device to see if they are responsive designs.
Mobile devices are on the rise and is expected to overcome desktop usage within the next few years. It is extremely important that your site has a responsive design and looks great across all devices. This also plays a role in how your site ranks in search results.
- Use google pagespeed insights to check the speed of those sites. Anything less than 70 on the speed test will likely rank lower in search results.
When google ranks websites, speed is a large factor. Google requires a server response time of 200 milliseconds or less. Anything over that is penalised.
- Use the SEO Site Checkup tool to check the sites. Anything less than 60-65 has poor SEO and will likely rank lower in search results.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tells search engines about your website and allows them to index your content. If you have a poor SEO implementation, search engines will not index your site properly and your site will not show up in the proper searches.
- Get everything in writing.
A good developer should be able to give you a list of their standard package including an SEO plan. Make sure that you get everything in writing to cut miscommunication from either side. This will also allow the developer to work quickly as the expectations are given up front.
- Use a content management system to keep costs down.
Content Management Systems like Drupal and WordPress help keep costs down as the framework is already laid for the developer. Depending on the type of site you are looking for, one may be more suitable than the other. Make sure to ask your developer about a Content Management System as an option.
- Be aware that your budget will affect the end result.
Everyone wants to spend as little as possible and still achieve great results. Sometimes your budget gets in the way of what you actually need. Increasing your budget slightly may be the difference between 100 visitors per week and 1000 visitors per week.
Below are some questions that you may want to ask your designer up front:
- Can I have references and sample sites you have completed
- Will I own the domain name
- Do you offer support after the project is completed
- Do you give training for adding content updates
- This is my budget, what can I expect for this
- Will the site be responsive to all mobile devices
- What will be done as far as SEO on the site within my set budget
- What type of hosting do you recommend for this site (Shared, VPS, Dedicated server etc..)
- What Content Management Systems do you work with or recommend
- Do you manage the software updates for the Content Management System. If so is there a charge for this?