Before Contacting a Web DeveloperBefore you run out and contact a web design company to create a website, you should do some research. Find out what kinds of websites you like, don’t like, and come up with a list of requirements that you have for the website. The more you prepare before contacting a web developer, the quicker it will be for you to explain what you want, to get an estimate, and to get started on creating the new website. Below are several questions to ask yourself early on.
What are my most important goals for the website?Will your website be used to generate sales, to create efficiencies, or is your website simply there for prospects to validate who you are when bidding on contracts? Make a list of the goals your website should accomplish and prioritize them.
Does my website need to conform to industry requirements?There are many types of businesses and most have very different website requirements. It is important to know any special requirements your industry may have of your website. As an example, if you’re a financial planner then you may have strict compliance requirements to follow. Find out what those are. You may actually be required to hire one of a short list of preapproved web design companies. If you’re a public school then you’ll likely need your website to be ADA or 508 compliant for student accessibility. These requirements will affect costs and timelines, but first you need to understand what these industry requirements are, if any.
What features do I need?The number of features you can add to your website are endless. A small business may only need a brochure style website with their contact information. Other businesses may need to display their portfolio of past projects, while another business may want to sell items online through an eCommerce website. Each set of features incurs a different skill set and time to create, and thus adds to the timeline.
How many pages do I need?If you do not have a complete list of web pages you’ll need, don’t worry. That is very common. Think through how many you think you’ll need. This will help the web development company estimate an initial timeline. But if your answer is, “I don’t know….a lot”, then expect a much longer timeline and a as well as a higher price tag. The better you can quantify the number, the more accurate of a timeline you’ll have.
Do I have to have this right away?If you have a timeline that you need to follow for some reason – for example if you need it before a public relationship campaign or before a trade show – then identify those future dates. If there’s a lot of time between now and then you may not be able to get the website in time. You’ll need to allow at least 30-days for a reputable web development company to turn around your website; maybe longer. If there’s not enough time then you may also have to pay a rush premium. The more time you provide your web developer, the better for them and for you.
Hiring a Web Development CompanyNow that you know the most important goals, the business needs, requirements for your new website, it’s time to contact a web development company. Once they start developing the website, below are rough estimates for the time they’ll need based on what type of website you’ve hired them to build. We develop website with WordPress, so we will focus on WordPress design and development examples.
WordPress Website Development Timeline Examples
|Type of Website||Size / Features||Timeline|
|Minimal WordPress Website||
||30 to 45 Days|
|Average WordPress Website||
||45 to 60 Days|
|More extensive eCommerce or Corporate WordPress Website||
||60 to 90 Days|
Ramp up time
Time is required between when you know what you want and when the web development company you eventually select can begin. The timeline for finding a web development company, communicating your needs, getting an estimate, and signing the contract will vary. Once they’re under contract doesn’t mean they’ll drop everything and start your website. They’ll likely have work they need to wrap up before the web developers can be freed up to start on your project. Be sure to ask for a project start date.
You contact a few companies. Either from Google or referrals. You wait to hear back. Some call, some only email and some never get back. You set up meetings for the following week.
You meet with possible web development companies and provide them your requirements. They take your information and start to prepare their proposal.
You receive and review proposal from web development companies. You alert your top picks and respond with questions or concerns. Sometimes you’ll need to confirm their statement of work before you can proceed.
Finally you can select a company! Now, ask for a contract. Always work under a contract! If the company doesn’t have one then you should seriously consider going with a company that is more mature in their business processes. Once under contract, they can start.
Wait for the web development company to shift to your project. They’ll likely need to wrap up other work, or they’ll need more information from you before they can start. You may also have a formal project kickoff meeting. The time for this phase can vary, but for simplicity we’ve assumed it’s one week.
During this phase you should expect to:
- Hold a kickoff meeting
- Pay the deposit
- Provide content (the words you want on the webpages)
Design & Development Begins
Now you and the selected web development company are ready to begin the design phase of your website project.
First, the development company will use the notes from the kickoff meeting to design some mockups or prototypes for your initial review. Hopefully these mockups impress you, get you excited about the project and confirms that chosen company is heading in the right direction. At this time, you should have a chance to provide some feedback on the mockups which they can incorporate in the development phase.
Once the web team has reached a certain point in the development process, they may share a live proof link with you for your review. You should be given a week or so to review and submit your feedback. Then your feedback will be incorporated into the website.
Third, the team should complete development, have their designers signoff on the work based on user experience guidelines, and perform final testing. Testing should include; user experience testing, mobile and browser support testing. Once this is complete, the website will be sent over to you for a final review and for you to test.
Last, the website should be prepared to go live. A full backup should be taken and web hosting should either be set up by the web company or by you. Once the web hosting environment is set up, and the domain is properly pointed to the new server, your new website can be launched.
You now have a beautiful, powerful marketing machine of a website. Until you want to change it. Which may be every time you look at it. Don’t fret, that is a good thing. We need to be monitoring our websites, sourcing through the analytic data, checking the bounce rate, pageviews, making adjustments to better serve our customers and adding fresh new content on a monthly basis.
After this investment of your time and money, you should have on-going website support
Support should include:
- If it’s a WordPress website, then weekly updates of all your plugins
- Daily backups
- Track uptime & improve performance bottlenecks
- Weekly website health report
- Maintain DNS records
- Research and fix bugs
- TLS/SSL renewals and installation (so that your website remains accessible from a website address that starts with https://.
These services will protect your website from hackers, server outages and human error.
A lot of time can be spent just trying to figure out what you and your business need before even beginning to have a website developed. You can reduce the timeline, costs and confusion by being prepared.
Do your homework, meet with your decision makers, prepare a list of requirements and web pages you need, then reach out to the web developer for a more detailed timeline.