This is a guest post from my good friend Margie Clayman one of the most creative and complete online writers on integrating marketing and social media. I read her blog almost every day and I learn lots from all the great info she shares.
I wanted Margie to share from her perspective what she looks for in a web developer and here it is:
Along with just about everything else in the business world, websites have at one time or another been pronounced “dead.” There have been articles about how mobile will kill the internet, how websites won’t be needed anymore…you’ve probably seen plenty of those posts yourself.
For now though, websites remain an integral part of a company’s marketing scheme. A website is your Grand Central Station. Traffic from any part of your marketing campaign – advertising, PR, Social Media – can all be driven right to your website. You can tell your story there. You can sell your products there. You’re in charge.
Given all of that, designing a website that will really work for you is absolutely essential, and not everyone has the skill to create sites that are productive for the company. There is the aesthetic, sure, but there’s also the navigation, the SEO aspect, the copy, and the actual skeleton of how the site will be used. To do it right, you’ll need help. But how do you pick the right person or company to help you get your website to the highest quality point possible? Here are some pointers.
- Make sure they’re interested in learning about your businessThese days, if a consultant of any kind comes into your business and says, “You don’t need to tell me anything. I know it all!” Kick them out right away. Because here’s the thing – they don’t know about you. They don’t know about your customers. Make sure your website partners take a real interest in learning about how you interact with your customers, what you want to provide to your customers online, and how you feel your customers want to interact with you online.
- Look for a variety of skills: A lot of times, a website developer will be excellent at one particular thing, but they will have a big learning curve when it comes to other kind of work. If you’re just looking for a website for right now, that can be okay, but if you want to develop a long-term relationship with a website developer, you need to make sure they will be willing to evolve along with the technology. Will you need an e-commerce site someday? Will you need special forms programmed into your site? These are things your website partner should be able to help you with over the long term.
- Look for Social Media experience: These days, a website developer really needs to have at least a passing familiarity with how Social Media works. In particular, they need to know how to do things you might want to do to enrich your visitors’ experience. For example, your website partner should know how to add a Twitter feed and/or badge to your site, or perhaps a link to your Facebook fan page. They should know how to incorporate a blog with your corporate site. If you say Twitter and your prospective partner looks out the window to see the pretty bird, you know you have a problem.
- Familiarity with Google Analytics or other analytics programs are a must: We are living in the era of accountability. Once your website is up, you’re going to want to make sure you can track how it’s performing and whether other channels are successfully driving traffic there. A website is increasingly becoming a moving target, and analytics is (so far) the single best way to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. A web developer with experience in or knowledge of analytics programs, including the basic step of installing tags onto your site, is basically a necessity today.
- If they don’t know what SEO stands for, keep looking: A web developer likely will not be the person who optimizes your website, but they should be able to communicate effectively with whomever is optimizing your website. They should understand how to name pages effectively, what meta tags are and how to develop pages so that there are keyword rich h2 tags. They should also be open to updating copy as you add more keywords into the mix. If the eyes glass over as you discuss this stuff, you’re going to end up in big trouble.
So there are five key things to look for when you’re searching for a website developer. Whether it’s a single person or a firm, you need to make sure that you impress upon them the importance of these items, along with anything else that is important to you and your customers.
Did I miss something important? How do you select your web development team? Let’s talk about it!
Learn More About the Author
Margie Clayman works for Clayman Advertising, Inc., a third-generation Akron, Ohio marketing firm. Margie is a proponent of carefully planned Social Media marketing, she’s passionate about fully integrated marketing.
Follow him on twitter @margieclayman