Building or updating a website can be like buying a car: You do some research, pick out a couple of styles and models that interest you, and then go to a dealer to test drive them. Once you have chosen the model and options you want, you negotiate for the best deal you can get, and find (or order) the car. After the car is prepped, the dealer hands you the keys, and you’re off! The same process applies to website design and development.
But imagine if you got in your new car and discovered that it did not have an engine; or that the one it had was not the right engine for what you planned to do with it. You’d be shocked, disappointed, and maybe even a little angry. You paid a lot for that car, and it’s not doing its job.
A website has about as many variations, features, and options as a car, and not knowing what to include could result in a very different site than you planned, not to mention very different price points. And like the choice of a dealer can affect your car buying experience, the choice of a web developer and hosting platform can also greatly impact your marketing success (take a look at this blog for more detail). If you don’t know to ask for specific features or ensure the developer understands which marketing goals you plan to accomplish on the site, they may assume they know what you want and build the site based on what they believe you need, which could be very different than what you had in mind.
When you create or update your website it should provide some marketing benefit and a way to gain a return on your investment (ROI). But you have to ask for the features you want and be strategic in planning it, or your website may not do what you want it to do – and it can end up costing more than you budgeted or fail to deliver any ROI.
Different web developers may take different approaches and include different features as a standard. This makes it difficult to get bids from three website developers and choose one, and becomes a comparison of apples to oranges. And making a comparison based upon price alone is never a good idea. If you’re going to build or update your website, it’s important to take these steps:
- Develop a strategy for your website that’s tied to your marketing goals;
- Explain your goals for the website to anyone you ask for a proposal;
- Ask for clarifications on the features included in each proposal;
- Get the same features included in all proposals; and
- Don’t buy on price alone.
If you’re careful and strategic about how you build or update your website, you will get what you need and expect. And if you don’t know how to do this, bring in someone who does (preferably someone who will provide an objective view). Otherwise your company’s new website may be as disappointing as that new car without an engine.