Your website is like what you wear; it is part of your brand and reflects who you are. Websites are not just for displaying information about your business anymore. Modern websites are dynamic integrated social platforms that serve as a channel for reaching out to new markets, generating referrals, converting leads and boosting sales.
If you think it is time to redesign your website, it is highly possible that you need to hire a web designer or a company in Hawaii or on the Mainland to do it for you. I get a lot of questions recently about how to manage the process and what to ask for.
The anatomy of an effective website has four main aspects and a metric framework to assess your success. It is important that the new design not only reflects your brand accurately but also combines functionality (clear call to action, relevant dynamic content, and fast multimedia), interactivity (two way communication, voting/rating system), usability (easy to navigate, concise text, light graphics) and visibility (search engine optimization, social media integration).
There are a number of social media and web design “experts” out there but it not easy to choose a designer who understands your web strategy and executes it properly by touching all the four bases mentioned above.
When you interview your web designers please remember to ask the following questions and beware of dangerous answers.
1. Are you going to use a platform or a combination of different programming languages and build the website from scratch?
If they are going to use a platform (Joomla, Drupal, WordPress) ask them about custom templates so that your website is unique. Each platform has different search engine optimization options (SEO) and plug-ins so ask you designer to describe the SEO aspect. If the website is going to be built from scratch (html, php, asp) then make sure you ask for a search engine friendly structure (tags, descriptions, keywords).
2. What do you suggest for the home page?
Your home page gives the first impression to new visitors who won’t spend more 10 seconds to decide whether your website is interesting or not. So you really need to impress them to keep them browsing your site and keep reading your content.
Your homepage should not only be interesting but also dynamic so that visitors keep coming back, otherwise you will lose them for good (this where you need web analytics tools).
Try to avoid designers who suggest heavy text or lots of pictures and very limited text. A good balance of both is needed, along with proper use of “white space”. Another common mistake is to use a cover page (splash page) that asks users to select language or shows a useless intro animation that almost everybody just skips.
3. How about my new URLs (links that you see on the address bar)?
Have you ever seen page addresses that look like a long string of numbers and letters? It can be very frustrating to deal with those type of URLs that give you no clue about the content of the corresponding web page.
If your URLs are meaningful to your visitors, they will also be meaningful to search engines and you will be ranked higher (yay!).
Good URLs look like these links:
Not like this:
If you hear a designer talk about dynamic URLs, parameters or sessions, then it might be a good idea to look for another designer.
4. What is going to happen to my existing website and links?
Despite being outdated, your existing website and its links are the only tie between you and your frequent visitors. A new website will probably require new links (URLs), which makes sense, but you don’t have to lose your existing visitors and search engine indexes.
There is a method called a “301 redirect” that redirects your old links to the new ones permanently. It may require some extra manual set-up (thus extra fees) but the result is well worth it, especially if you have an e-commerce site.
5. Can I manage my own content?
This is a good one to ask. You need to be able to modify the content (not the structure) of your website easily without knowing any programming. Content management systems provide This helps you keep your content dynamic, relevant and accurate. You don’t have to call your web designer every time you need to add, delete or modify your content.
You may not be a technology expert but it is your money, your website and your brand, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and get multiple quotes. I hope these questions help you find the right expert or company to design your website and help you gain competitive advantage.