What Do I Need to Ask My Website Developer/Host?

You invest a lot of money into your website and may be surprised to learn that you didn’t get what you thought you were paying for.

There are a number of questions that you should be asking and you definitely need to understand the answers you are receiving. Above all else, you should document what you expect to receive for the dollars you are spending when you develop a new website.

Knowing the questions to ask before you commit is critical

Knowing the questions to ask before you commit is critical

Here are just a few of the questions you need to ask.
1.) Will your site be designed to be responsive and not just mobile friendly?

There is a very real difference in responsive and mobile friendly.

A responsive site is going to provide optimal viewing across a wide range of devices.

A mobile friendly site is developed so that it displays accurately on either a desktop/laptop computer or on mobile devices. The key here is that accurately does not mean that it is going to adjust the page size to be legible and it may not work perfectly. It will only be functional.

In today’s world a responsive design is a must, especially in the Outdoor Hospitality Industry.

2.) Who Will Host Your Site and What will the Hosting Costs Cover?

Frequently the company who is building your website for you will also offer you a hosting package (the price is going to vary depending on your geographical location but it seems to be hovering somewhere between $45 – $200 per month.) While you can host a site yourself for a very nominal charge (as low as $2.25 a month) the real question to ask yourself is whether you are prepared to take on the added responsibility.

A part of the hosting package should include keeping the backside of your website up to date.

Just like any other software (and your website really is a piece of software) updates need to be made to take care of problems that have been encountered, advances in techniques and any other of a myriad reasons. If you are hosting your website yourself you will either need to take on this role, pay someone else to do it or allow your website to become outdated.

There are still a number of websites out there that originally used software such as Front Page, which has been discontinued. This means that when you want to make a change to your website to add a new amenity or change your rates you are going to run into issues of finding someone who still uses the outdated software.

While you are on the subject of hosting costs, ask if any changes are included in your hosting package. Make sure you understand what kinds of changes are covered and how frequently you can make those changes.

3.) How Locked In to One Company Are You?
Ask your web developer what they are going to use to code your website.  Will it be in WordPress, HTML, Business Catalyst, or some other system?

All of these packages have their advantages and disadvantages; however, one consideration is that if you should decide to move your site to a different service, you will need to find one that supports the software that your site is based on.

4.) What is the Response Time for Major Problems on the Site?
What happens if your site is hacked? How quickly will the company respond to this issue? Do they only work Monday through Friday?

While this may seem a question that has an obvious answer, you need to understand the commitment that your web design company is making to you.

Having your site down over a holiday weekend because no one is working after hours can have a huge impact on your sales income. On top of that, add in a site that is hacked and has been blacklisted and you have a huge problem on your hands.

5.) Will A CMS (Content Management System) Be Used?

Unless you want a brochure site that remains static and doesn’t get a lot of search engine love, you are going to need to be able to change the content on your site frequently.

With a CMS in place, you or one of your employees can make those changes without having to go into the code.

The key here is to again determine if the CMS that is going to be incorporated is one that is readily available or one that the design company has put together.

This is just a short list of things that you need to consider about your website. Even if you are completely satisfied with your current web design company, you should still understand the answers to the above questions.

The adage “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” applies doubly here.  Your website is your customers first impression of who, what, where, when, and why you are in business. Don’t let them down before you get the chance to show them how great you are.

What questions have you come up with that you aren’t sure of what the answers should be? Want to learn more? Let’s chat and see if we can’t help you find your answers.

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Need a nudge in the right direction? Give me a call at 800-478-0516 and let’s brainstorm what would work for you. You can find me on Twitter: @RVStops and @FocusedWords and on my groups on LinkedIn, “Social Media in the RV Industry” and “RV Park Management Software User’s Group”. Check out my blog at www.FocusedWords.com/blog for more articles about doing business in a busy world. Copyright by FocusedWords. If you would like to reprint, please email pwright@FocusedWords.com with your request.

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