Before Hiring a Freelancer or Team to Create a Business Website, You Should Read This!
It is the year 2020. A year of which an entire generation is being tested for its will, ingenuity and survival. This Pandemic has surely brought out the best and worst of humanity. Businesses closing down and people turning to the web to find an alternative source of income.
This is significantly true especially in the Philippines. Online shops numbers have grown exponentially as citizens took to the web every product and service you could think of.
With digital technology and the internet in its Golden Age, every business in the world has either harnessed its full potential or simply created social media pages for Brand Visibility on the web.
But what does harnessing the full power of Digital Marketing and the Internet truly mean? In a nutshell, Digital Marketing and the Internet is just another form of information highway where the process of bringing your product and/or services to your current and potential customers involve several platforms that needs to be setup in sync to form a system that would generate sales in a matter that requires little to no manual attention from the Business owner itself. Generating more time to actually run the business.
Online Marketing for a business is a summation of parts which includes a Website, social media, SEO, advertising, content production and sales funnels. Probably the most common and easiest would be creating social media accounts and pages for your business. But what do you do after creating them?
You may have Googled or asked a technology-inclined friend and the answer would most likely be “Hire someone to create a website.”… Having a website for your business not only shows the level of professionalism it represents but some experts would say; it is also the heart of your Online Marketing Campaign.
In this article I will sum up the most crucial things you need to know and do before hiring an agency or a freelancer to build your business’s website.
1.) Look up the web design provider’s website.
There are a few things you would want to see on an agency, a studio or a freelancer’s websites. But in order to have an idea of what they are capable of doing, you must try to determine the following:
How else can you judge if the provider can perform and deliver the best website but to look at their own website’s design? Look at all the aspects of which their website performs. Can you find what you are looking for? Does it load relatively fast? Is it engaging?
Look at what their past and present clients say. You can easily spot made up testimonials because they will never add a name or a link to that client’s website for you to actually trace them back and ask about their experience working with the provider. You can also try and look if their business is on Google with some reviews on the Business listing.
c. Case Studies
Finding case studies and specifications of a project that the provider has handled should be easy to do on their website. It should render the project details and what they have done for their past and present clients. This way you will be able to study what they have delivered and the way their process works.
d. Team or Freelancer Profiles
Knowing what you are paying for is what every person wants to do when it comes to buying a service. In this case, you should be able to know the faces, the experience and the skills of the provider you would decide to work with.
2.) Mobile Responsive Websites
After reading content on their website have you noticed a few subtle things that you would have missed if it weren’t for your mobile device? Well, according to the Statista website 51.92% of the average traffic a website gets is from some sort of mobile device. This highlights the importance of having a website that is responsive to all mobile devices.
Counter-checking with your mobile device onto your computer or laptop is always a good idea to see if the freelancer or agency’s website’s responsiveness is seen across all browsers and devices. Here is a short list of things you can check on your mobile device while viewing a website:
- Is the copy readable? And the text format consistent on every page in every device?
- Is the navigation easily accessible?
- Is the design accurate with the desktop version?
- Are buttons located strategically?
- Are you able to locate what you are looking for on every device?
3.) Great Communication
If you were to ask every person who ever hired someone to build something on the internet the question: “Which part of the project were you most concerned with?”. Their answers would most probably be; Can he understand what I need and what I am looking for?
Before you ever decide to hire a freelancer or a team to design and develop your website you must be able to speak with the provider, whoever is the main contact person whether a solo freelancer or a project manager.
If a personal meeting is not possible, then an online video call should suffice.
You can use Skype, Zoom or even Facebook Messenger to schedule a call. Most people would shy away from a call, but this is crucial for you as the business owner who would likely be speaking with the provider. They must be able to understand your thoughts and go through the process of taking it, providing a solution and completing the project to fruition. How else would you know that they are able do that but by meeting with the them and making sure the provider has superb communication skills. Even a video call should be done if needed to actually get a visual of the provider.
4.) Pricing and Options
Just like any creative niche such as architecture, painting and engineering; every freelancer or team from all over the world have different prices and quotations because of relative factors such as:
- Software used
Even with pricing tables provided for reference it is always a good idea to actually set up a meeting and discuss with the provider what you need and/or fill up a custom project assessment questionnaire that should be available for you whether on their website or a document. This will not only give a better understanding of your project but also provide details that are critical to your project’s cost.
At Ironclad Creatives provide both as to give our potential clients the opportunity to give us the specifics of the project whether through our online forms or through a word document.
5.) Hosting and Domain
Every website needs both hosting and domain. A hosting is basically the environment of which the files of your website reside either on a physical server or a cloud server . While your domain to put it into simple terms is just the address of your website.
Why is this important? Well for a number of reasons. One is speed, a freelancer or a team who has extensive experience in building websites would never compromise speed for a cheap hosting service because we know that speed is everything when it comes to getting more leads and sales on your website. Have you heard of the saying : “People on the web have attention spans of a baby”. Well of course not, because I am the one who just coined that phrase on this piece I am writing.
Another reason is security, if you bought a hosting service from a provider that says verycheaphosting.com then you are likely to be in trouble. Here at Ironclad our clients are either hosted on:
- or Wpengine
These 3rd party hosting services are what we recommend to our clients because they have a proven track record with our decades of experience.
6.) SSL Certificates
Speaking of security, ever noticed that the most trusted websites such as amazon.com , facebook.com , spacex.com and even google.com have a padlock before their url address on your browser? Having a website that has a Secure Socket Layers Certificate (SSL) is a determining factor of how trustworthy your website is. Specifically with information and payment processing involved. Whether you are selling directly on your website through e-commerce or maybe just taking information like email and phone number from your visitors, you need to add an SSL certificate which adds an https instead of the unsecured http protocol on your website url.
This will show visitors that they are browsing a safe website that is free from identity theft and credit card fraud. Here at Ironclad Creatives we urge our clients to host on our recommended hosting providers that includes a FREE SSL Certificate for each of their websites.
7.) Custom Email
With your own website must come a custom email. Emails are still the most used marketing tool on the web as it is widely used and very professional. There is no sense of having a business website when your email still shows as email@example.com. It should be firstname.lastname@example.org in which your email signature should be set up according to your business profile on the web.
With Ironclad Digital as your Website provider we include 2 custom emails in our affordable maintenance plans.
8.) Maintenance & Support
As an entrepreneur we often think that doing it ourselves is the only way to do it right, right? But with Websites, we sincerely believe that you should leave it to us, the experts. Even with drag and drop page builders commonly used nowadays, it is always better to let the designers and developers do the ad-hoc work since one mistake can often lead to another when dealing with websites.
There are several factors in running a website that needs a professional’s hand on like ; Hosting, Security, Design, Speed, Software Updates and Back-ups.
Most freelancers and teams have Maintenance Plans that they offer at a monthly subscription platform. This way you can focus on running your business while your website generates you more leads and sales with little to no trouble at all.
Here at Ironclad Digital our clients opt-in to our maintenance and support plan which includes a 2 hour online consultation every month and the following:
- Premium Cloud Hosting and Domain
- SSL Certificate
- Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- 2 hour Monthly ad-hoc work (adding, deleting, editing pages/posts)
- 2 custom emails via G suite (i.e. contact@yourwebsitedotcom)
- Weekly Software updates
- Monthly Backups
- Monthly Security Check and Optimization
- Monthly Speed Check and Optimization
9.) Search Engine Optimization
Your website’s primary objective is to help people find you and your business, period! Get more leads and in turn by implementing the right strategy, more sales! This is what Search Engine Optimization ultimately does.
Having a Beautifully done website is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg. Making sure your website is optimized for major search engines such as Google is of the utmost importance. Ask your provider if the website you are getting will be SEO ready. Will they include? At the least, on-page optimization or even provide additional services such as seo copywriting at a cost and will they set-up Google Analytics and Google Search Console for you as well.
Using WordPress as your website’s Content Management Software should help you gain more SEO traction with the help of great content and copywriting. Some would say “Content is King!” which is true for most cases!
By building up your audience through multiple channels online such as Social Media and creating engaging content such as videos and helpful articles such as this one 😉 , you will be able to rank in Major Search Engines.
You can also contact us ask our SEO team to do them for you!
10.) Brand Strategy
If there is one thing that separates the best web design and development team from the rest of the pack, it is this; the ability to incorporate your brand into your online platform.
If you try and Google “Best Websites Designed Ever”, we can tell you that all the results have one thing in common. It is that; the design of the website is relative to the Brand it represents. From the colors, typography, elements, copy and even the photos used. Just one look over each page you know what the Brand is all about.
There is a distinct unity in the layout of a website whether a beauty in its minimalist nature or a controlled chaos in its aesthetically artful taste. None of that random, un-uniformed and somehow confused design you see on websites created by teams who have little to no Branding Strategy experience. And we shall spill the beans, there are a ton of those.
We at Ironclad Digital care about your Business’s Brand and we guarantee that on every page, in every section, every element we place on your website, your Brand’s Guidelines are followed!
Must-read article! I’m a web designer too but I used to hire freelancers before to assist me with the web design kinds of stuff, a great portfolio with positive client feedbacks was a deal-breaker for me and I guess for most people? Wew! Thanks for this guide, John.
Thanks Kirby. I agree its the least thing we need to see before hiring someone. But if we have a good feeling about a freelancer we can also rely on that from time to time.