Hold your web development agency accountable for education

by Cara Crosetti on November 25, 2013

You’re not a web expert. Why should you be? Hire a web development agency to guide and educate you.

web development santa barbara

A good web development agency educates you so you can make better business decisions

I recently heard an Internet professional at a local SABER event rename marketing to markEding. I like that. Education is a cornerstone for any consultant worth their salt (and fee).

You have your expertise; your web development agency has theirs too

Psychology, academia, design, industry or real estate (to name a few) is where your business experience and specialty lies. You live your business’ daily details that give you an edge and why you know your industry inside and out.

You aren’t expected to know how to strategize and develop a website just because you need one. You hire experts for this.

The web developer and designer you hire should have two goals. One: build a website that gets tangible business results. Two: educate you about web development so you can make sound business decisions. Unfortunately, this second goal is never part of many web developer’s approach.

7 things to look for in an excellent web developer (for non-technical people)

  1. Someone who uses plain English and avoids techie jargon. If you don’t understand any of the acronyms or phrases, stop the conversation and ask for an explanation. If what you hear still sounds too complex, ask for your web developer to break down the complexity into metaphors or smaller chunks.
  2. A dedicated contact and/or project manager. Someone dedicated to your client relationship helps ensure consistent and clear communication. Don’t settle for talking with the owner during the sales process, then being handed off to a web architect, then a web designer, then someone else. You deserve a consistent point of contact to ensure your project gains momentum and keeps it.
  3. A maintenance plan and approach. Typically, this isn’t covered in the sales conversations, but it’s critical that you know how your site will be maintained and who will do it, before you build it. If you require someone on your staff to maintain the front-end content, make sure this person sees the interface of the screens, with a detailed demo at the least. A hands-on tour while screen sharing is best. And ask about back-end maintenance. Does your web development agency offer this service? What does it include or exclude?
  4. A written time and cost estimate with details of what’s included / excluded. Demand it. You should know what you are paying, the timing of when payments are due, milestones and what is excluded from your project’s scope.
  5. Keyword research process specifically for your business. Many web development agencies will tell you they are building your website with SEO (search engine optimization) in mind.  But without specific keyword research for your industry, company and competitors, you are most likely getting a rehash of what was used for someone else. This defeats the purpose of helping you stand out in your marketplace. You are better off hiring a separate Internet marketing specialist or a web development agency that takes care of everything,  like Spiffy Web.
  6. Clear and timely billing. Demand it. Know exactly where you stand financially at all times. Ideally, request a project-based fee instead of a time and cost fee. A project-based fee, with a clearly defined project scope, will help you manage your budget. You’ll know what you are getting and at what cost. If you decide to expand the scope, no problem. Just request a revised project contract and estimate before work begins.
  7. Technical experience and samples. This is where many web development agencies excel. They focus on past projects, flashy websites and happy clients. Dig deeper. Make sure Flash isn’t being used on your site. Or frame-based content windows. Ask about the cost to build a responsive website or use a pre-designed template with responsive technology built in. This can also help you curb design costs.

Why you should expect education

When you understand what’s going with your web development project, you will be able to make better business decisions, instead of getting shepherded into a direction you may not want.

This will take your time, focus and a willingness to learn basic web development concepts and terms. As long as your development agency includes education, the process will be smoother (and you’ll learn something new!).

Contact Cara at Spiffy Web, a web development agency that educates you and creates websites that get business results.

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