5 Crucial Questions Before Hiring Your Web Designer

Introduction

When you’re deciding who you’re going to employ to get your website built it can be a difficult decision. How do you know your web designer is going to give you what you want? How much will the website be? Can you rely on them after you’ve paid? What happens if the worst happens? There are many potential dangers we can help you to avoid.

To assist you in your decision making process we’ve come up with the five key things you should look out for before hiring your web developer. After all it’s better to do research in the first instance, rather than spend a lot of wasted money. This concise overview will assist you to understand some of the areas you should talk through with prospective web designers.

1 – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Essentially, this means asking if your web developer offers you Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as part of their services. It’s important to be clear on what they do offer and what they don’t offer. Many web designers may be very effective at web design but SEO is a specialism in it’s own right. If they do offer SEO find out what the this actually means in reality. Your web developer may well use a lot of terms you might not be familiar with, such as ‘on page optimisation’, ‘off page optimisation’, ‘page rank’, ‘link juice’, ‘link building’, ‘white hat’ and other techniques etc. It’s worth you taking the time to research these terms and understand what’s important to you and your website. I would recommend avoiding anyone who tells you they can get you to the top of Google in a week / 24 hours or some other miracle time period. For example, it can take up to 6 months depending on what search terms you want to appear for in Google, depending on how competitive your search terms are. Avoid short term gain techniques, these will only sabotage your website down the line for short term gain. Another option to consider is that you may choose to have your custom web design built by a specialist web designer. Then have the SEO done by a dedicated Search Engine Optimisation specialist separately. If you decide to go with this option, it’s worth considering a web developer who uses SEO friendly software in the first instance. Ask your web designer if their software is Search Engine Friendly. If yes, ask them specifically how is the software they use SEO friendly?

2 – Communication

Communication is key to the success of your project. We all know this doesn’t just mean knowing you’ve spoken once and they were very keen to know you and get you on board. You should look to do your due diligence. This should give you a good understanding of how well the web developer communicates with their clients. Find out their opening hours. What happens if there’s a problem? Clarify the ways in which you can communicate with your web developer? Such as telephone, email, instant message, mobile, text message, face to face, forums? If you have an ongoing contract how will communication be managed on a daily basis?

3 – CMS versus Brochures

When the internet began, many websites resembled brochures. You visited a site with lots of static, non dynamic pages. Today, with the increasingly sophisticated web technologies that exist, websites such as Facebook and Twitter update dynamically, in real time.

If you know that you wish to update your website yourself you should seriously consider opting for a Content Management System (CMS). The great benefit is that you can run the website yourself. For brochure style website you might have pay for updates as the web developer has to spend time updating the website on your behalf. If you do go for a brochure style website, find out the ongoing management fees. If they do use a CMS system, ask them what training you’ll have to get up to speed on using and administering the system.

4 – Speed kills

Speed does indeed kill. But in this case it’s slow speed that kills. Any website that loads over 6-8 seconds will quickly turn off visitors. How many times have you clicked on a website and when it slowly loaded you’d had enough? You then moved on or returned to Google. Ask your web designer what hosting packages they use? Is it joint hosting system or on it’s own dedicated server? You should be offered a menu of options for hosting based upon your needs. Be wary if not. Follow up with your web developer on how the hosting works? Talk to your web designer about the options for speeding up your website. This can include a Content Delivery Network (CDN), caching programs and minify. Does your web developer offer these type of services? Remember, slow speed kills, a quick loading website has earned the right to be seen and heard.

5 – To be open or closed?

It’s prudent to ask what would happen in the worst case scenario? If your web developer’s company went bust, would your website still function? For those web developers who use their own in house technology, find out what happens if they did go out of business? Would your website still function? For web designers who use open source technologies such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc these are open source so the technology at least should be safe. Ask about your hosting as well. Is the hosting tied to their own company? Often companies will use third party hosting outside their own company.

Summary

Remember, above all, due diligence on your web designer before hiring them. What do independent reviews from previous clients say? How can you communicate with them? Do they offer Search Engine Optimsation (SEO)? What technology do they us? Follow these 5 tips above to get yourself a web developer worthy of your project!

Advantages and Features of Mobile Web Design – What You Need to Know

2011 is being touted as the year when mobile technology really comes to the fore. So what are the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of mobile we design? Which web development features re mobile friendly and which are not? Lastly and mostly importantly, how do you find out how mobile web design could work for your business?

Advantages of mobile web design

  • A well developed mobile website can mean an increased range of web visitors to your web site, happy to be able to use your site to full effect and that it functions in the right way.
  • If your business targets people on the move (e.g. a restaurant or hotel), you’ll most likely pick up business with good mobile web development.
  • Even if your business isn’t a natural fit with mobile technology, giving thought to good mobile web design can present your company as a professional, cutting edge outfit which embraces new technology.
  • Developing for mobiles can expand your brand and product beyond your website into apps and software programs. The possibilities with mobile technology are growing by the day.

Disadvantages of mobile web design

  • You have to know what you’re doing. If done properly, there shouldn’t be any disadvantages to having a mobile web designed site. However, there are a few potential pitfalls which might annoy your mobile customers and have a detrimental effect on your search engine rankings for your web site as a whole.
  • Things are always changing. You can’t expect to invest in your mobile web design and leave it there. Mobile web technology is growing and expanding. When a new smartphone comes on the market, you need to be prepared to grow and change to meet the new demands.
  • It may not be appropriate for your business. As with any investment of time or money, you need to decide whether the ROI merits the effort you will put in. Businesses don’t all fit one mold, so you need to do your research before embarking on developing a mobile site to ensure that your expectations of the returns are met.

How to go about developing your mobile site – some of the characteristics of mobile web design and development

1) Check your stats

Before developing a mobile site, your first port of call is Google Analytics or similar, where you can identify sources of traffic to your website. Google Analytics lets you know what proportion of your visitors are using mobiles to access your website and which specific devices people are using. This will help you decide whether it is worth allocating resources to building a mobile web site for your business and which devices to use when testing your website design.

2) Create a mobile stylesheet

The best way to manage a mobile site is to use a different CSS stylesheet to the one you use for your browser pages. This technique is preferable to any other because it avoids duplicating content within your site (which can damage your search engine rankings) and makes it easier to update your site in one fell swoop.

3) Avoid duplicating content

Google can penalize your website for having lots of pages with the same content, so if you do decide to develop a different set of webpages for mobile phones, make sure that the content is specifically different from that for your browser website. If you need a full reference of dos and don’ts from Google, Webmaster Tools is a good place to start:

4) Keep images to a minimum

You need to work to your lowest common denominator and you don’t know what connection speeds you are dealing with on smart phones. If you can do so, keeping to a few small images will provide a more enjoyable experience for your customers visiting by phone.

5) No Flash… end of

Flash is not a feature of web development which is considered mobile friendly. It doesn’t work on iPhones and because of security constraints, may be phased out of many web browsers in the future, so it’s best avoided in any case. Additionally, Flash can’t be read by search engines so you won’t be scoring points on Google or Bing. If you want a phone- and search-engine-friendly Flash look-alike, why not try jQuery? It works using JavaScript, which is available on the vast majority of browsers and phones and your text can be read by search engines.

6) Apps

Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to develop an app. An app is a small program which is either free or can be purchased (the usual price for an iPhone app is £0.80). Apps sit as icons on the iPhone or other smartphone, so as well as providing a useful service to your web visitor, they are a great ongoing advertisement for your website and business.

6) Test it out

Don’t have a smartphone? Opera has a great mobile emulator which allows you to see how your mobile site will look to your visitors. With the Opera mobile emulator, you can try out different phones, vary screen sizes and resolutions and test out touch and keypad phones.

Happy mobile web development!

Developing Custom Web Applications

Custom web applications are developed for offering a variety of solutions for a wide range of businesses. The corporate business becomes more dynamic and flexible when these web applications are implemented. Developing custom web applications give you the edge in any business in this competitive world. This is more of a practical approach when it comes to overcoming glitches when things go out wrong in the development phase.

Due to the rise in competition in the web domain, it is very common that the clients prefer their projects to be unique. Their concepts are designed and implemented with the help of the available technical expertise. This methodology opens doors for finding new innovative ways to develop programs and solve related problems so that the requirements are met. The necessities and requirements of the clients are the key idea that encourages custom web development.

The custom web development process involves different stages prior to developing a particular application. In order to develop an effective application, a perfect blend of domain expertise and knowledge regarding latest technologies is vital. These processes are rationalized to increase better functionality of the application. It also reduces cost to a great extent and provides Return on Investment at a faster rate. A standard web application gets accustomed to rapid changes in the business world where the same application can be compatible with the newest platforms.

The web application development designed out of the visualization of the client delivers better results and increases the productivity. It is easier to manage since the application meets the exact requirements and was aptly designed for the specific business process.

There can be various ways to design a similar application. A few of the platforms are java, ASP.net, Java script and Python. But it is very important that the right technology is used since the customized application should be compatible with all programs being used with it. A state-of-the-art custom web application promises the client an advantage over their business.