This weekend, I was coding a blog revamp for the lovely Vicki of VickiArcher.com. When her site was moved from Blogger to WordPress by her previous developer it was done so half heartedly. The theme that was used on her new WordPress site was a visual editor theme, which means it’s not made for developers it’s made for bloggers who want to make their blog without code. Call me bias, but I am not a big fan of these. On the surface they seem cool but when you want to take sh** to the next level you wind up in a bit of a pickle. This is what happened with Vicki, so we decided to bite the bullet and remake her site with good old fashion code, positioning her in good-stead for when she wants to do more in the long run.
Whilst coding away I was thinking about other bloggers and how you may find yourself in a similar predicament, actually saying that I know you do because more often than not I get emails telling me your previous developer seemed so amazing on the surface but the final product wasn’t what you wanted and now you feel a little cheated.
It is super important to make sure you team with the right people and your site is made for the long haul. I am sure you have dreams/goals/plans, I’d like to thinking you do anyways – that is why it is important to make sure you are building the right foundations from the outset. Can you imagine a shop with crap foundations? That shop is falling down!
When talking to a potential developer make sure to ask them the right questions but at the same time remember they are the expert and not you – otherwise you would be coding your new site yourself. There is nothing worse than when I get an email from a blogger telling me exactly what they want and what pages – errr I thought I was supposed to be the developer, you did email me RIGHT?
It’s best to find a happy medium where by your creative vision combined with a blog designer/developers, mixed in with their technical know how, it’s a relationship – you need to get on!
Below is a web design check list of questions you should be asking your blog designer/developer before committing to making your site with them:
Can I see some work you’ve done?
Ask them for some links of work they completed themselves, also ask what functionality in these projects are similar to what you might need.
If we get going, can we sign a contract?
Some people fear signing a contract thinking it is more beneficial for the blog designer/developer than it is for you as the blogger. Wrong. It’s beneficial for you both so all parties know what is to be expected.
How and where will my website be hosted?
It’s important to know if the hosting provider will cater to your needs. If you get a lot of traffic then make sure the available bandwidth and disk space is enough for your site. Also find out if the hosting provider are quick at replying about issues. Companies like GoDaddy and Bluehost, have 24/7 numbers and chat support which is really handy if you are ever in a pickle in the future.
What access do I get to my new website?
Make sure you get full access to everything, included your Server/Hosting details, domain name, and administrator login.
How will you make it easy for me to manage the content on my website?
Find out what content areas on your site will be accessible and edited by you.
If it’s a WordPress site, ask what plugins will be included with the initial install and why?
There are some key plugins that a blog designer/developer should install for you e.g. Yoast’s SEO and Google Analytics Plugins
What will you be doing to preserve my current website’s SEO value?
What SEO fundamentals will be included with my website?
How will the website convert readers?
This question is something for you to think about also, if you rely solely on your blog designer/developer to make sure that your blog converts, then you will probably end up disappointed. Every blog should have a conversion strategy, it’s how you work out if your efforts are a success or not. Tell your blog designer/developer who your target audience is, what’s your blog USP (unique selling proposition), what your main call to action’s (way’s readers convert) are, what your inbound lead process is (how visitors get to your site. e.g. search engine traffic, social media etc.). Once this information is clearly communicated with your blog designer/developer, then they should be able to use this information to properly design and develop the proper elements to attract, capture and log conversions for you.
What will you be doing to keep my site secure?
Although CMS’s like WordPress are amazing they can be vulnerable to being hacked. However, hacking should never be an issue as long as your blog designer/developer properly codes the your blog to prevent easy access for hackers, uses reputable themes and plugins and use good security tools.
Will you be performing core theme and plugin updates as they become available?
Get a clear understanding of who will be responsible for keeping these things updated, there is no point assuming as this will get you in to trouble. If you’re paying a monthly service fee, then your blog designer/developer really should be. If you’re not paying for some type of service plan, then you will need to do it. Don’t go emailing your blog designer/developer to make updates when you are not paying them any more. This isn’t charity work!
How easy will it be to add features / functionality to my website in the future?
This questions is oh so key. It is not just about now, you are building for the long haul, so you need to know what position you are with your blog designer/developer when it comes to changing or adding new plugins, changing themes, adding page template etc. Don’t expect these things to be included unless you have a support plan with your blog designer/developer that includes some allotted time for this technical support.
What will be used to help me track my blog traffic?
Important things to track on your site include traffic, site performance, engagement, and conversion. You can do these using free tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
How do I request help if I need something and is this included in what I am paying for?
If you are the type of person who would like to rely on your blog designer/developer to answer questions for you then find out if this is included or if it will be extra. Also find out what is the quickest way to get a response on a question? What hours can I expect you to be available for support? What type of response time can I expect? How much technical support is included with my monthly fee? Does this not cover any certain types of support?
Are there any additional fees outside of what I have paid / am paying?
No one likes to be screwed over especially after spending money on a new website.