Your website is the online face of your company. It allows you to market your business and “sell” your services online. It enables you to interact virtually with your customers, and, when done correctly, provides a great way to obtain new customers.
When you are creating a new website or revamping your existing website, it is critical that you hire the right person, with the right skills, to assist you. After all, this is the person (or team) that will create the online presence of your business and develop the mechanisms for you to conduct your virtual business functions effectively!
It’s especially important that you find the right talent the first time out – otherwise you risk not only hurting your business, but wasting a lot of precious time and money.
Here are the essential services and skillsets your website developer should be able to do:
Website are made of code. It’s that simple. And that complicated. A professional web developer should be able to build a website from the ground up using code. Using programming software such as PHP, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Java, a developer can create any and nearly all of the backend functions you need for your website to perform the way you want. Instead of buying expensive plugins and widgets to accommodate your contact/subscription signup, manage your eCommerce, promote your service videos or blogs, and other features you want your site visitors to experience, your web developer can program these functions into your site and customize them to look and feel the way you want.
Beware of website companies who say they create custom websites, but are actually using third-party software templates to build websites. The downside of these choices is that your website may not have the functionality you want (beware statements like “you can’t do that”), may not integrate with other digital facets of your business, and will look like everyone else’s website (check out their portfolio!).
Data is arguably the most important piece of any website. Data is the raw information your website is made of and this information stored in a database is used in the code to make the website work. Websites often use a database to populate the text or content for the pages, store information inputted by users and in some cases store settings for how the website looks. Professional web developers use software such as MySql and Oracle to store website data. Particularly if you need your website to be interactive, you need a web developer that knows how to use a database effectively.
This should be a no-brainer at this point in time, but it is still worth mentioning that any website today must be responsive on all mobile devices. This means your website looks good to users whether they are on a PC, a tablet device or looking in the palm of their hand on their smartphone. To achieve this required programming, a professional web developer must have all the skills necessary to make all the elements (think images, page layout, eCommerce functions, responsive forms) of your website look and perform well, no matter what device the consumer is using when they visit.
What good is a website if your customers and prospective customers can’t find it their search engine searches?! Just as important as having a beautifully designed and functioning site is the ability for your website to show up during relevant keyword searches when someone is searching for a business like yours. From the very outset of site buildout, search engine optimization (SEO) needs to be considered.
SEO is a key feature that a professional website developer should be taking into account when they build or work on your website. Just as they are responsible for the effective programming of your website’s functions and features, SEO coding including optimizing images, building in keywords, title tags, meta descriptions and alt tags impact your SEO considerably. Good coding also impacts how fast your websites loads, and speed a huge part of your site’s SEO score with search engines. Further technical considerations including navigation performance, eCommerce design, the SSL file, sitemap and accurate URLs on all pages are all backend coding that play a large role in a website’s SEO.
Web designers often get bogged down on a lot of aesthetic elements that can have a negative impact on speed, and “developers” using templated software or canned website platforms may include a lot of features on your site, but the backend of those platforms are not built for optimization, hurting your online presence in the end. A great web developer can create a pleasing looking website without sacrificing performance and key SEO factors.
While some projects are a one-off such as assistance programming a specific website function or creating an app, usually your relationship with your web developer is an ongoing one. Websites need continuous support to keep them effective online and with search engines. Many developers offer continuing services such as web hosting and domain management, as well as ongoing upkeep in the form of hourly or monthly services. Websites are “living things” online, and are always at risk for security breaches and hacking. You need someone in your corner who is paying attention to new security updates, software updates, and other changes that can cause errors on your site to crop up after launch. As you work on your site content throughout the year (as you should be!), it can be easy to make a mistake that impacts your website in other ways, and either “breaks” something or causes an unintended repercussion that you need help fixing. Inevitably, a website’s backend programming and software needs to be updated periodically. For all these reasons, it’s a good idea to find a web developer who you can work effectively with, and maintain an ongoing working relationship with to keep your website in tip-top condition.
At Zebralove Web Solutions, we are experts in the programming and coding needs of modern websites. We have been at this for over 15 years, designing and developing websites, developing apps, and helping clients with their digital marketing. We excel at driving traffic to websites utilizing SEO tactics and custom digital marketing strategies. We also offer secure web hosting services, as well as ongoing website and domain management services.
Contact us for more information!