Are you thinking about starting an online store? Do you have one but need to make it work more efficiently? Have you had experiences in the past with website builds that have cause you to be sceptical about the process? Have you had quotes that have made you fall off your chair? We understand, clients often ask us the same questions over and over, these questions are always due to the mystery involved in a website build. The value in what you spend on building a website depends on so many variables. We always come back to the same considerations:
1 - Is the web developer local? Can you have a conversation with them in your timezone? Can you meet with them face to face if you have a problem? There are some incredible overseas web developers, who are often cheaper that their Australian counterparts, but the cheaper pricing comes with some obvious challenges. You might not speak the same language, if they are including copy for you the translation might not be quite right, they will not know your customer demographic like someone in the same country or better still the same city. Think about if this is important for your build.
2 - Does the developer have all the skills to complete your project in-house? Can they take care of all aspects without outsourcing part of the work? Is the person you are dealing with the person who will do the build? Be careful you are not paying for several middle men. This is very often overlooked until you get a large invoice. The more people involved in the project the more people need a cut of the fee, so inevitably the fee goes up. Now this might not be a problem if you have a large budget and want too work with many people - but have you considered working with one or two people to complete the job for you? A small team who fully invests and understands what it is you want to do. Ask about the team and people involved if you’re not sure.
3 - Can they work within your time frame? It's your project so within reason you should be able to give them a Go-live date and they should be able to meet it. (bearing in mind some builds are more complicated that others so 24 hours is unreasonable, but so it 6 months) Depending on if you have 5 products or 5000, be honest about your expectations. Set goals for your developer so you all start on the same page.
4 - Will they provide a full project outline so you know what to expect? This is a simple document that is normally included in the quote which will clearly outline what is and is not included. When you get this ask questions, if there is jargon you don’t understand ask for an explanation in non-marketing speak. If you are paying someone for a service you need to be confident that the service is covering off everything in your brief.
5 - Do you have your marketing assets in place? (the company logo, images, branding etc) If not is this something you need help with? Ask your web developer for advice. Questions like, can I use stock images in the short term? If the answer is no do you need to factor in additional photography costs.
6 - Have they worked on other projects that you like? Is the user experience on their other projects what you have in mind for your own store? Most developers will have a style, make sure you like the style of the developer who is quoting. As a web developer they should have a fairly awesome website where you can see their previous work. If they do not have a website, this should ring an alarm bell.
7 - Do you need an easy to manage back end system? A level of access that allows you to confidently make changes without having to contact your developer for the smallest of things, like price changes or promo codes. There are many platforms available, some that work for you as the business owner and others that are built for developers. Choose one for you. The savings in the long run will easily pay for the slightly higher monthly or annual fee. Think long term.
8 - Have you met your developer? If not, you should. Asking questions face to face and reading responses is the quickest way to spot a good or bad developer. This online store is the future of your business, trusting the person who brings it to life is important. Interview them like you would with any new employee. Your relationship with this person will be ongoing even if its once a year or once a month. It is best that you like them and trust them to want you to succeed.
9 - Does this developer work with a copywriter, who can write SEO copy to make sure you get your rankings on google? Most web developers do not create copy for you. It takes a different type of person to create copy. Keep this in mind - they will build you a site but they will not fill it with words. Content is so important for your brand personality, make sure you ask this question. If you are expected to provide all of the copy and you’re not sure what you are doing this could be an additional expense, check if this can be included, or if they can put you in touch with someone who can help you with this.
10 - Lastly - Have you thought about your digital marketing strategy? Just because it is built does not guarantee website visits and sales. Make a list of the top ten things you want to achieve online, set aside a small budget, test and run campaigns (Facebook, Instagram and EDMs) and ask your developer to set up tracking so you can measure your successful and not so successful campaigns. A good developer will help you get started with this.
Most of these points are fairly self explanatory, however when you get excited about launching or growing you business you might fail to remember these in the crucial moments. Your website is the online personality of your business, how it is perceived and experienced is very important. Choose a developer who understands your business and gets excited by it. The results will always turn out better.
I would recommend checking out Shopify for yourself, browse there library of useful resources including stores currently using the platform, to see if there are solutions that may help your business grow or get to market quicker.