What you need to know about investing in a new website
In recent months, many organisations have been confronted with the importance of a strong online presence. A website is often your “home base” on the internet, so it’s imperative that your website does its job. While you certainly want a website that looks nice and reflects your image, it’s easy to overlook the other factors that can make your website either an asset or a recurring liability.
Here are 10 important questions to ask when you’re building a new website.
Do I own my website?
Most web developers choose between using open source or proprietary Content Management Systems (CMS) that provide a way to manage and update your website’s content. An open source CMS (like WordPress or Drupal) is a publicly available platform, whereas a proprietary CMS (like Wix or Kentico) requires an ongoing subscription or contract. With a proprietary CMS, you are locked in as a customer, whereas an open source CMS can be managed by any knowledgeable developer. Open source allows you to truly own your website, meaning that you can change website providers or take over management of your own website as you wish.
What is included in my hosting support?
When you build a new website, your web developer will likely arrange and manage your website hosting, which usually involves a monthly hosting fee. It’s important to know what your monthly hosting support includes. Will your web developer provide basic maintenance and security updates once your site is finished? What if you need a website update that you don’t know how to do? What happens if your website breaks or gets hacked? Understanding what’s included in your website hosting can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Will my website be mobile-friendly?
Over 50% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices, so if your website is not designed for mobile devices, you will be excluding half your potential visitors. Furthermore, Google now prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in their search rankings, so a non-mobile-friendly website will be at a serious disadvantage in search results.
Can I update the website myself?
Once your website is completed will you be able to update it simply and easily yourself? Think about who within your organisation will be updating the website and the level of updates you require. Ensuring your content is accessible to a “non-web developer” is an important part of the build, as are basic instructions and training for using your site.
Who will write my website content?
Well written content should be at the top of your To Do list when thinking about a new website. This deeply impacts how your customers judge your business and how Google interprets and ranks your site in searches. Given the importance of your written content, consider investing in copywriting services to ensure professionally written content that is also SEO friendly. We offer this service for all clients and can also write blogs and articles.
How will my website be structured?
Consider how people will use your website: Do you want them to learn something? Buy something? Get in touch? Based on your goals, there are different strategies around layouts, menus, and calls to action. We also know that people will stop engaging with a website if it is unattractive or confusing, so perfecting the user experience is important for keeping visitors engaged and driving the desired actions.
How will my website get found in Google?
Google reads your website to understand what each page is about and presents that information in relevant searches. Metadata is additional background information that helps Google understand your website content and briefly summarises the content on each page. Metadata is also the basis for your search results content and is read by real users, which means that well-written metadata can go a long way in both improving search rankings and increasing clicks to your website.
How can I tell if people are visiting my website?
If your website is brand new, ensure your web developer sets up and provides you with access to Google Analytics and Search Console. If you already have a website, your web developer needs to move your existing Google Analytics tracking code to your new site to ensure you don’t lose any historical data. Once your website is live, these tools will allow you (or your digital marketing provider) to monitor and improve your website performance over time.
Is my website secure?
An SSL certificate verifies that your website is secure and meets browser safety requirements. People trying to look at a website without an SSL certificate will often receive a pop-up saying that the site isn’t safe. Not having an SSL certificate also disadvantages a website in Google rankings; Google lists your site lower in searches which means that fewer people see it.
How fast will my website be?
It’s imperative that your site is fast. Website speed influences Google rankings and can drastically impact your visitor behaviour. The longer your website takes to load, the more likely it will lose visitors; 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Developers can ensure a quick website by following development best practices, optimising images, and using a quality hosting provider.
Asking these questions before you choose a new website provider can save you time, money and a lot of headaches in the long run. Please get in touch with us if you are considering a new website; we’re happy to answer these questions and provide a comprehensive quote to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with your new website build.