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  • Annand Sharma

Tech Recipe: How to maximize your web development dollars

Background:

Does the thought of designing or building your website send jitters down your spine? With some strict criteria and focused conversations you can have a new website up faster and cheaper than you may have previously thought.


So, when did you last refresh your site? Was it in the last 5 years? If not, you’re long overdue. Your website is the first impression many potential customers have of your business. Keeping it current is increasingly important. For anyone selling products, please head straight to Shopify. Everyone else should read on.



Picking the web developer that’s right for you:


There’s myriad ways to find web developers. In order to build (or rebuild) your site in a timely, cost effective fashion, pick the web developer that you feel best understands your industry or your specific challenges. A developer who clearly understands what you’re trying to build or solve for it is more likely to be efficient with their time, and yours.


Outside of that “feel” component, some important questions to ask about are:

  • Pricing model - do they charge per page, per project, per hour or something else

  • At EBH we prefer a project based model as it forces both parties to really sit down and define the requirements

  • At the end of this recipe you should be prepared to have those requirements conversations. We’d still recommend a project or hourly model

  • Approach - do they use off the shelf themes, do they customize every page?

  • We recommend developers who start with off the shelf themes and then help you tailor or customize them as needed.

  • Tool of choice - make sure their preference lines up with yours. Especially if you already are familiar with a specific web hosting tool

  • This would be something like Wix, Squarespace, or Wordpress.

  • If this is your first website, or you don’t anticipate creating a lot of content Wix or Squarespace and their competitors are a great start.

  • We recommend Wordpress even if you’re on the smaller side, it will grow with you

  • Location - everyone is in different time zones, make sure you’ll be able to meet at a regular cadence

  • References or Portfolio - ideally they can provide customer references who can share how the process went and how to best work with the developer

  • Development schedule - in addition to dictating how you’ll pay, make sure to understand if their development services are available on a timeline that makes sense to you. Some smaller development agencies will take meetings and build a project plan only to tell you they can’t start a build for 9 months.

  • Additional services - building the website is only step 1, there is ongoing hosting, software updates, page or content updates, and more. Some developers offer support as part of the initial offering, others may even offer content generation or SEO. 


Cooking Instructions:


1. Set Clear Goals:

  • Define the primary purpose of your website. Is it to inform, to sell, or to gather leads?

  • Try to think from a prospective customer's point of view. For example, we own a counseling business. A prospective patient landing on Stokes Counseling, I would want to find out who Stokes Counseling is. What services do they offer, where are they located, do they take my insurance, and how can I get started? Our website answers these questions and constantly displays the option to request an appointment.

2. Keep it simple

  • Avoid the temptation to overload your site with too many pages. A cleaner, more straightforward layout is often more effective, especially if you don't have a large range of products or services.

  • Similarly, pick a theme and colors that align with your brand identity. Consistency is key.

3. Design for Your Brand, Not for Trends:

  • Unless you're in a fashion-forward industry, focus on a design that reflects your brand's personality and values, rather than chasing the latest design trends.

  • The simpler the theme, the easier it will be for you to take ownership of making new pages or content.

4. Optimize for Mobile:

  • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly, both in layout and loading speed.

  • Be sure to highlight this with your web developer.

5. Check-in:

  • Schedule regular meetings with your developer to review progress, make adjustments, and ensure you're on track for the launch.

6. Test Before Launch:

  • Thoroughly test the site before going live, especially if you're transitioning from an old site. This includes checking load times on various devices and browsers.

  • Pro-tip, modern browsers like Chrome and Firefox allow you to emulate different devices and screen sizes through their developer tools.

7. Feedback and Iterate:

  • After launch, collect feedback from users and be prepared to make small tweaks. A website is never truly 'finished' - it should evolve with your business.


Follow these steps to help keep your website redesign project on time and under budget. Leave us a comment if you recently redesigned your site.

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