Tag Archives: SEO

Web Development Tips to Better Your Website

The most common mistake any company or individual can make when venturing out on a new website project is to assume that design is everything. I can assure you that your website’s design on its own is not what will make you successful.

A quality and professional web development service is what will affect the success of your site and its online objectives. High standards (above industry) are developed for a reason, and that is to ensure the product and service you receive is of paramount quality and to a professional level, so that your website will function as intended and provide the right return on investment.

Too many businesses that are relying on the success of their website to help drive their business will bypass the crucial step of dealing with a professional development company based on price.

In this article I will reveal 10 tips to choose the right development company and how it will better your project’s success.

10 Tips to Choose the Right Web Development Company

  1. Track Record – Choose a company that has an established track record. Generally a web company that has more than 15+ websites that they have designed or developed in-house with case studies to show their achievements. Any qualifications or awards won will also help establish this.

  1. Methodology – Ensure your chosen company has a strong web development methodology or process. This means that when your chosen company develops your website you can track the progress of your project and ensure all key quality standards are covered.

  1. Usability – Design does play a heavy role in the development of your web project. Ensure the company you choose has strong visitor usability and user-friendly interaction knowledge. Usability is how visitors will interact with your website and how effectively they reach your end goal.

  1. Development Team – The company you choose should have an in-house development team. Don’t use a company that is going to send your project work off to another country or other out-sourced web companies. You don’t want to be chasing an invisible rabbit down a hole should things be affected by an unforeseen event.

  1. Design Team – Your web company ideally should have an in-house design team, unless you are dealing with another individual or company for design. This tip relates to tip 3, if your web company has a designer in-house this will better the success of the project as the development will mirror the design better and its objectives.

  1. SEO – Choose a web development company that has an understanding of search engine optimization. Another important factor to any web projects success is making sure the company you deal with knows about SEO and how it will affect your website.

  1. Social Media – Social media is a new form of marketing and can drive great results. Dealing with a web developer that understands this can help you drive better traffic and alternative forms of login.This tip applies to socially active websites and e-commerce based projects.

  1. Content – Content is the biggest thing that pushes your website and draws in your visitors. Content will be the main thing that will sell your services or product, the company you deal with should have good development techniques to structure content effectively.

  1. E-commerce – Choose a web development company that has e-commerce experience. E-commerce is fast becoming the biggest way to make money online, how your customers make payments is very important. Make sure you deal with a development company that can recommend and implement the best payment methods available.

  1. Support – The most important tip to date, your development company must be able to support you as a customer and provide ongoing maintenance and service. Work with a company that is going to be around a year from the time you employ them, too many customers I have met have been left in limbo because the company or individual they were dealing with has gone bust or skipped the country to leave you in the middle of nowhere.

In summary there are a number of aspects to take into consideration before making your web developer choice. I am confident this article with the above 10 tips will help you qualify the best company to deal with for your new web project.

The majority of the 10 tips should already be covered by your chosen development company, but it does not hurt you to double-check. I highly recommend you ask your chosen company questions based on my 10 tips above, this will help establish them as the right business to deal with.

All successful web projects are a result of planning and evaluating, failing to plan and evaluate your development choices could mean failure of your website.

Choose wisely and approach everything smartly, remember if you put in the leg/foot work to start with, you will reap the benefits later.

Ben Davis is the sales and project manager for MediaCore a Specialist Web Company based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has had 6+ years of experience managing web design and development projects for his clients. He is also the author of ‘5 Tips To Search Optimize Your Business’.

MediaCore is Auckland New Zealand’s Leading Specialists for Web Design and Web Development. We provide professional and high quality web design and web development services that will meet all your online business needs. We are specialist Magento eCommerce and Joomla CMS web designers and developers.

What SMEs Need to Know When Hiring a Web Developer or Designer

Your business is… well, whatever your business may be: human resources, plumbing, running your restaurant. Many SME owners are privileged to do what they love and work very hard to make their businesses successful. Whatever you do, you want your website to work for you, but you want to spend your time running your business, not working on the nuts and bolts of website design, so when you need web services, how do you ensure that you are doing the right thing for your business?

This straightforward checklist will allow you to manage your web service needs from start to finish and to make sure you get the best quality and value web development for your company.

Which web services do you need?

If you don’t yet have a website, the first step is to write down exactly why you want a website and what you want it to do for your business. Is it an online business card for reference? Do you want to sell products or services via your site? Is it to improve communication within or outside the organisation? All of these factors influence the design and development of your website, who might be best suited to do the work and the potential cost.

If you already have a website, try to pinpoint exactly what you do and don’t like about the existing website and how things might be changed. Try and be specific: rather than noting that it looks outdated, identify what makes it so: is it the colour scheme or the fonts? Is the navigation clumsy or out-of-date? You don’t have to be a web design expert to do this, but it will give you a head start in looking for a web developer to solve these problems.

Next, prioritise your “wishlist”, which may be a combination of specific points, e.g. improving the layout and more general needs e.g. “I want to drive more business to my website”. Once you have this, you have a brief which a web developer can use to work out the web services needed and how to achieve the desired results. Since the list is prioritised, when it comes to obtaining quotes for the work, you can decide how much is achievable within your timeframe and budget.

Choosing the right person

Do you need a web designer, web developer or programmer? The terms may all sound similar, but there are distinct differences in the work they do and therefore what you can expect from their web services for your site.

A web designer focuses primarily on the appearance or look and feel of the website, including the layout. A good web designer should be an expert in making websites visually powerful and impactful and in drawing visitors to the right areas of your website. Some web designers combine their services with graphic design, so if you have a new look and feel branding on your website, they can incorporate it for you on company letterheads and business cards too.

A web programmer focuses more on functionality. He or she might program solely for the web or may do software programming too. The programmer’s concern is getting features of your website to work. Examples may include building an online intranet or database application, where information can be stored on your database and manipulated via your website. In larger companies, these roles are often split so that programmers work on the “back end” – the features that make a website work and then apply the “front end” created by a web designer to make the site more attractive.

A web developer muddies the water considerably, sorry. Web developers can incorporate elements of design and programming. Web development is a broader term for getting a website online and making it work. You can expect a good web developer to have an eye to both the appearance and functionality of the website.

If you need to narrow it down and you’re not quite sure about the technicalities, have a look around your site. Most likely your URLs in the address bar will have some kind of extension e.g.(.html,.asp,.php,.cfm). Try Googling for terms like “asp developer” to find someone with the specific skills to enhance your website.

Grill the portfolio When you visit a web developer’s website, check their portfolio thoroughly and don’t stop there – look for their clients’ website online. If you are looking for website redesign to allow you to update content more easily, how well are the developer’s portfolio sites maintained? If you are primarily concerned with Search engine optimisation (SEO), how do client sites fare on search engines for the relevant terms?

The personal touch Above all, pay attention to client recommendations. The website can show you the end result, but the recommendation can tell you about the web design process with this particular individual or company. Every SME is different, but with all those I have worked with, one thing has remained the same: the importance of the personal touch. Whether you are employing a freelancer or a big web development company, you need to ensure that you can establish a good relationship with your web developer. How quickly and thoroughly do they respond to emails or phone calls? Are they forthcoming with advice and what sort of advice do they offer? Again, you don’t have to be an expert, you just have to judge whether you think it rings true and fits for you and your business

Go big or go local? Web design and development is big business and variety is the name of the game. Google, Bing and Yahoo! can play a big part in your decision, but rankings aren’t always the whole story.

It is well worth considering a local web design company or developer, because they may have local contacts to help you promote your website or greater access to resources like online business directory listings which can boost your search engine rankings.

I worked with a Cambridge charity who wanted to employ a Cambridge web developer because they knew the web services needed would be ongoing and that discussion and meeting face to face in Cambridge would be important to them, rather than discussing their needs over the phone or email.

How much should web design cost? As with any investment you make for your SME, it goes without saying that you should shop around and get a few quotes. Even if you know which developer you want to go with, it is worth checking that you are being charged the going rate for the web services needed. If the web design prices are above average, you need to decide whether your relationship with the company or freelance web developer are worth paying the extra cost. If the prices are considerably below average, this should set alarm bells ringing. Canny SMEs know that you always get what you pay for.

Working as a freelancer, I know that my clients prefer me to be upfront about costs and that it builds trust. Beware companies who hedge their bets with quotes as it might be a telltale sign of inexperience. However, it is worth bearing in mind that quoted prices are only a starting point. As an SME, it is down to you to hash out exactly what is included and what is not. For example, many sites offer SEO friendly websites. This means that the web design will incorporate the features needed to give your site a boost on Google. However, SEO does not stop here. In my experience, building websites for Cambridge companies in search engines is an ongoing process which takes place over a period of time.

Web design prices: break it down If in doubt, ask the web designer or developer to break the cost down per task. That way, if there is a time-consuming feature which is not at the top of your web design wishlist, you can decide whether or not it is worth the web developer’s time and – more importantly – your money.

Your SME, your website Love or loathe the internet: your website is a big part of your company’s identity. It pays to get it right; it costs to get it wrong, so take your time to find the web services you need.

How to Determine Who to Hire To Be Your Next Ideal Web Developer

Critical Benefits and Drawbacks You Need to Know About Different Web Developer Types

I get asked to do website estimates a lot and sometimes it’s downright heartbreaking to hear about the struggles and challenges entrepreneurs and business owners face when trying to find the right web developer.

Too many times I hear about people who feel they were ripped off by their previous webmaster and are very reluctant to hire someone new for fear of the same thing happening again.

Some of these people decided they better do all the work themselves, struggled terribly trying to literally learn a whole new profession. They end up calling me out of sheer frustration that nothing is working and things are worse off than before.

One time I was having a conversation with someone on a completely unrelated topic and he asked me what I did, when I responded he blurted out, “web developers.”

I cringed.

I’m sure this happens in every industry where there are people who are really great at what they do, some who do enough to get by, and some who only THINK they know what they’re doing!

The web development industry is no different.

If you are unhappy with your current web developer or are in the process of finding someone that you can trust and depend on to fulfill your web development needs, this article will provide some valuable tips that will help you find the perfect complement to your team.

The first thing to get clear on is exactly what kind of help you need.

When hiring a web developer, first get clear on what kind of help you need:

There are many different types of “web developers” out there and making the wrong choice can be very costly. So be sure you understand “who” you are hiring first and then your selection process will be much easier from there.

Here are four common types of web developers:

The WordPress VA (Virtual Assistant)

This person has figured out WordPress pretty well. They know how to install a WordPress theme (either free or purchased) and can make some modifications to that theme to help match your brand colours. They will have a good understanding of what plugins are available to match your needs as well.

Benefits: Usually hiring someone for this work charges less per hour than a fully qualified web developer. Putting together small-sized sites are their specialty.

Drawbacks: Often WordPress is all that they know and rarely do they know HTML or CSS to customize your website for any extra bells and whistles that you want to have.

Often purchased themes are so rigid that even moving an element from one part of the page to another is impossible to do with this type of limited knowledge.

When to hire them: You would want to hire a WordPress VA when you are not interested in a fully branded/customized website. You realize that any customization options are limited and you basically get what the theme preview shows aside from some colour, text and image changes.

You would also want to make this choice if you are already well versed in marketing strategy, copywriting, and branding and can simply tell your VA what needs to be done. Anticipate them having limited knowledge in some or all of these areas.

The Programmer

This person is what I lovingly call a “techno geek”. We have a few of these people on our team and we would not be able to be as successful as we are without them!

The Benefits: They know programming inside and out. They live, eat and sleep programming.

The Drawbacks: They can most definitely build you a fully functional website, no problem. But don’t expect it to look pretty! Branding, copywriting, design layout and marketing are rarely found in their list of skillsets.

You will probably need to hire someone else to help with those areas if you are not fully versed in them yourself.

When To Hire Them: You would want to hire a developer of this caliber if you have a complex website in mind that needs to be customized to fit your needs. Whether it’s an eCommerce engine, membership site or a database-driven tool, a fully trained and experienced programmer is your best bet.

The “All Round” developer

This again is a single person who has built enough websites to have a pretty good understanding of the bigger picture. They are what is called “a Generalist” where they have enough skills to be able to design and develop a decent website.

The Benefits: Having one person have knowledge in the different areas needed for web development is a big plus.

Usually this person has enough programming acumen to be able to handle most customizations and challenges that come up and will not need a plugin for every functionality (which will bog down your site’s performance).

They also are knowledgeable enough about branding and visual design that your site visitors will enjoy the experience of being there.

The Drawbacks: Even though they may appear to know a lot about web development, it’s impossible for one person to be really good at everything. It’s rare to find a really good designer also be a good developer (they do exist but they are a rare breed.) So you will still need to be, or have someone else on your team who is, well versed in online marketing and copywriting to help offset any weaknesses the person you hire has.

When To Hire Them: If you are lucky enough to find someone who has these skillsets AND is dependable, then you will have a great asset on your team. You will need to be aware of what their limitations are so that you can offset those areas with other people on your team.

The Web Development Agency

There several different types of web development agencies and for the sake of this article, I’ll focus on the kind that we are, a boutique web development and digital marketing agency. (If you’re looking for a big name agency that only multi-billion dollar corporations use, you wouldn’t have read this article to this point anyway!)

The Benefits: A boutique web development agency is not a one-man show. They are a team of professionals who can offer, as a collective group, all of the different areas of expertise that your business needs from a marketing perspective.

These areas generally include:

Brand Identity Design

Website Design and Layout

Copywriting

Online Marketing / Lead Generation

Video/Audio Editing

SEO

(Note some agencies only have 2 or 3 people on their team so be sure to ask questions to find out what everyone’s expertise is and if any skillset is lacking that you require.)

The other big benefit to using a web development agency is that they are very knowledgeable in your brand, your positioning and the message that you want convey to your ideal clients.

With every request you give them, they will already know what is needed and can discuss options with you to create something for you that is a perfect fit for your needs.

This avoids you from having to know what is needed yourself and also have to ensure other people on your team remain consistent with your brand message and design so you can focus more on what you do best.

The Drawbacks: Depending on who you find, the price point might be outside of your budget. Do your research: ask for and talk to referrals to help you decide if they will deliver what they promise. If they have a good reputation for being on time and on budget, then the extra costs will balance out in the long run.

When to hire them: Hiring a boutique web development agency can be one of the best things you can do as a new business. Doing this will assure that your new venture will get going on the right foot right off the bat. You will save a lot of time and money in the long run if you make this initial business investment.

If you already have an existing business and website but area ready to step up to the next level, this is the time to bring in an agency that can help you with not only the “doing” but also the strategizing to ensure you get to where you want to be without wasting a lot of time, money and energy.

You will also want to look for an agency when you want someone on your team for ongoing, consistent support. After your website is built, you will want someone you can contact at any time for website updates, creating new campaigns, doing SEO work etc.

My final piece of advice is to be sure you do your research on who you approach. You want to find someone with experience and skill who will partner with you to help you build your business.

Unless this is what you’re looking for, you want to avoid programmers and developers who only do exactly what you tell them. Having someone who can offer ideas and suggestions and be a part of your team to be a valuable resource when needed may be more ideal for you.

References are very important in this industry: Always ask to talk to their clients to see what their experience was working with the developer.

Be aware of those that claim to be developers when in reality, all they learned was how to use a “do it yourself” software like WIX or Weebly.

The quality of your website – both in design and in how it is coded – is very important on many levels. Ensure the person you hire understands how to design and build a quality product for you. Otherwise, you will most likely be faced with going through the whole process again in a short period of time once you realize your site is doing you more harm than good by turning off your potential clients instead of attracting them!