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Open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Reaching people in the remotest corners of the world. Enabling instant transactions. A great platform for your news and musing. Websites really are amazing, and provide all of this and more.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 82% of British adults used the internet daily or almost daily in 2016. That’s 41.8 million people researching, reading, posting, sharing and buying things online every single day!
Clearly, websites are essential for all types and sizes of businesses, but many individuals and organisations choose to have one too. You can add information, photographs, videos and blog posts on a website and link it to all sorts of other digital communications such as social media.
Because websites are so important, versatile and popular, there are countless companies selling web design and development services.
Choosing one that’s right for you can be tricky. Particularly if you have a clear budget and want the best possible finished result without website development costs running away with you.
This guide is designed to show how to choose a website development company, to make sure you get an online presence that is right for you, at the right price.
Web Development In A Nutshell
There are lots of ways to create a website these days, depending on what you are using it for, how many people you want it to reach, and how many features you need built in to it.
The basic elements are:
Design – how the website looks to users; the colours, menus, page layout, graphics and text location, for example.
Programming – the coding behind the website that makes it run.
Functionality – the features and attributes the programmer would add. This could involve a very long list of things these days, as websites are so versatile.
CRM system – this means Customer Relationship Management. It is what sits behind your website and dictates how it interacts with your audience. How data is collected, stored and used.
Web development companies can usually provide all of these things “in-house” or they may subcontract graphic design, for example.
Information You Need When Engaging A Web Developer
Your website must have a design that is effective and memorable, but also the functionality – the features and attributes – that you need to support your business.
The wrong website can be a waste of money and ineffectual. You could spend a fortune on something that loads badly, confuses your audience or gets totally ignored.
It all hinges on choosing the right web developers. This page is designed to help you – and guide you towards comparison prices for website development.
When briefing a web developer, what would you need to prepare?
The starting point is being very clear about what it is you want and need, as web development costs and the companies who create websites vary enormously.
The basic questions are:
Will a template using a standard “open source” system (which means freely available software) do the job? Or would your website need to be especially created using individual coding to make it unique?
Do you want to be able to update it yourself, or use the web development company to do that?
Will you need to have customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities built in – collecting subscriptions and other personal information, to use for emails and newsletters?
Is it an eCommerce site? Will you be selling products or services, which means it will need a merchant account payment gateway built in and shopping cart functions.
How big is this website going to be? How many pages do you think you will need?
Do you have preferences on how the website will be hosted? This means where your website will be stored digitally on a special computer known as a server. This can be important as some servers are better than others.
If you don’t already have a domain name for your website, you can sort this yourself with a hosting company or ask your chosen web developer.
Other Things To Consider When Briefing Web Developers
If you can map out a diagram of how your website pages will link together, this will help to inform your web development agency. What sort of tabs will you need at the top of the page for site visitors to click on? How will they navigate around your website? Do you need drop down menus from the tabs at the top of the page?
Having a website that works well on mobile technology is vital these days – as a growing proportion of your customers will research and buy products using their phone. Some websites work well on any digital platforms, while others will need to be optimised to be sure they work on mobile phones too.
The best website developers will also work with you on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This means setting it up and “populating it” (adding content) to include words, phrases and systems that help people to find your website when they go on a search engine. A good ranking on search engines means better business for you.
New Start-Up Web Development
If this is all new to you fear not, there are web development companies that specialise in new business start-ups and they can guide you through each consideration.
Some new start-ups find the versatility and responsiveness of sole traders or smaller agencies reassuring.
However, some larger web development companies also offer great website deals for new businesses, including “off the shelf” eCommerce sites with all the payment systems set up ready for you.
Websites That Last And Grow
You need to look ahead when making your list of essential website features. You need your chosen website developers to create a site that can be updated and added to as your company grows. For example, you may not want an eCommerce site yet, but you may need to ask website developers if it is possible to add a shopping cart, payment gateway and product directory to your website at a later date.
How To Choose A Web Development Company
Clearly the decision needs to be based on the web development costs that you can afford. The higher the budget, the more functions and features you can build in. However, even a small budget could get you a great website these days.
The companies that create websites come in all shapes and sizes – from freelancers to big digital marketing agencies who can provide a complete package of marketing and sales services.
It may seem that someone working on their own is going to charge less and you will still get a website that looks and works well.
Don’t take this for granted though. Sometimes there are economies of scale. Bigger web development agencies have invested a lot of time in understanding a lot about open source software, templates, programming, web platforms and the best servers to use.
Bigger companies may also provide better prices for web development, because they have graphic design and programming skills in-house.
This could mean they are best placed to provide the sort of framework and functionality you need for your website. They may also be able to provide follow on services in a more reliable way – including updating your website regularly and carrying out ‘health checks’.
It really is a matter of finding a web developer that suits your needs and your budget, and making sure everything is covered by the quote you receive.
Look closely at the web development company’s previous work to see if it suits your tastes and preferences. Lastly, look for a web development agency that really listens to you and takes an interest in your business. If it all feels too impersonal and they use a lot of jargon, you may not get the website you want, or a price that is controllable.
Get A Price For Web Development
The best starting point for your new or replacement website is to compare prices using our handy online system. You can then find web development companies to talk to who are ready to offer clear price structures and the services you need.