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Website Guide

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Overview

This document outlines helpful information to consider when purchasing a website for your business.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Website

Make sure you own all of your assets – From your domain name, to the content and site design, everything should be owned by you. Be wary of any vendors that want to retain ownership of your digital assets – oftentimes this leads to a situation where you may be “held hostage” by a company because your site, for example, would remain in their ownership if you terminate a contract for their marketing services. Keep a secure password file where you can store all your digital info – things like logins to the site, domain registrar and hosting accounts.

Scope of Work – Make sure you have an agreed-upon scope of work in place to hold your design agency accountable. There should be a clear scope of work and associated pricing so that there are no surprise charges.

  • What are the steps/stages of the project?
  • How many revisions are allowed?
  • How many themes are included in the price?
  • What is the included functionality?
  • What is the launch date?
  • What is the content strategy? Content is not typically a design deliverable, but there should be a known strategy in place to either migrate existing, or create new, content that will live on the new site.

Here is EM Search Consulting’s process that is shared with all of our clients so that everything is clear: EMSC Website Design Process

Customization – it is strongly recommended to build a custom site vs. utilizing a prefabricated template. There are several reasons for this:

  • Custom sites allow you to present information in a way that is tailored to your business goals.
  • Custom sites allow for faster edits and maintenance, as well as future updates. In turn, this reduces the cost of hourly-billed work.
  • Custom websites are more scalable and can include unique functionality vs prefabricated templates that are extremely restrictive.
  • Prefabricated websites are full of bulky unused code and plugins that deteriorate quickly if not carefully maintained and kept up to date with the latest versions of source code. This unused code slows your website down and leaves room for bugs and errors.

EM Search consulting builds custom websites on WordPress, which is a search engine-friendly platform preferred by clients, developers and search engines.

Content & Media – Make sure any content and media that will live on your site is properly purchased and licensed (it is not legal to download images from Google, for example). Any content should be unique to your site, and not purchased from a content farm. Building a website with duplicate content, or media that violates copyright laws, can lead to expensive problems down the road.

Track Analytics – Google Analytics should be installed on any website so that you are able to collect data. Make sure that your new site transfers existing Google Analytics from the previous site. Use the launch date to compare the effects of the new site design on traffic, bounce rate, conversion percentage and goal completions. If Google Analytics does not exist or is not accessible, make sure a new account (owned by you) is created and placed on the site so that you can measure the data moving forward.

Training – Make sure that your website vendor is willing to train you/your team to utilize your site so that you/your team can make edits to content, add pages and media, and post blogs on your own if you wish.

Features of Effective Websites

Personalization – both consumers and search engines favor sites that use personalized photos and video vs. stock media. It is highly beneficial to invest in a professional photo/video shoot so that your new website showcases your employees and your offices rather than stock images. Client testimonials are excellent  to include as well, since they will add credibility to your site.

Call-to-Action Oriented – it is essential to include prominent calls-to-action so visits convert into leads.

Responsive Web Design – As of 2023, over 60% of global web traffic is on mobile devices. It is critical that your site can adapt to the size of the visitor’s screen. The goal is for content to render differently depending on the device or screen size so that visitors have an optimal experience no matter how they access a website. The primarily benefit of responsive web design is that sites load quickly without any distortions, so users don’t need to manually resize anything to view content.

Built with best SEO Practices – it is important to make sure that on-page technical components are set up properly so that each page of the site can be optimized to rank for desired keywords. Technical On-Page Optimizations send signals to search engines for what keywords you wish to rank for. These signals are sent through your metadata, URL structure, Schema markups and more. Solid technical SEO is the first step any website needs to take to rank well for important and highly searched terms. Your website needs to be built with this in mind.

Site-Speed & Security – Your website needs to be hosted on a secure server that encrypts data and prevents hackers or malware from affecting your site. Additionally, the site needs to load quickly, which is both a ranking factor with search engines and increases conversion percentage. Make sure you have an effective hosting and site speed optimization solution in place for when your website launches.

Informative and Engaging Content – Your website’s content will attract and engage your target audience and visitors, so it’s important to have solid content in place. Content writing includes service pages, product pages, infographics and blog posts. While website design and website content are different deliverables, the site should be designed with a solid content strategy in mind.

Pricing Factors

Theme Templates – Having multiple layouts across the website will keep users engaged and interested in the content being presented. Multiple templates will make sure the website does not appear boring and users can easily tell the difference while navigating. We recommend 6-8 different templates that look and operate differently, while keeping the brand of the website consistent throughout. Examples would be service pages, a FAQ page, homepage, about us, contact, and secondary service theme templates. The more custom templates created, the higher the price point for the website will be.

Features – Websites can be built in multiple ways, the most efficient sites are coded to include Custom fields and Custom post types that users and non-developers can utilize to edit content, images, and other aspects of the website without having to touch code. Building these features takes more time and has a higher cost, but in the long run creates a user friendly backend that clients can learn very quickly. Stay away from straight HTML websites that do not have built-in features for fast edits. It will undoubtedly cost you more in the long term.

Functionality – Functionality is a major factor in determining the cost of a website. Since most websites start as a basic informational and contact center, any additional integrations or custom functionality will drive the cost up. Do your forms need to be integrated into a CRM? Are there any custom calculators that need to be built ? Does your website need to do anything other than drive leads and inform potential customers about your services? These are all questions that need to be asked, answered, and included in the scope of work when building a new website.

Number of Revisions – Make sure the number of revisions is clearly stated in the Statement of Work and adhere to the agreed process. It is best to make batches of changes in a single revision vs. one-off tasks, which can move the project out of scope. Most agencies will charge extra for any design revisions that are beyond the agreed-upon scope of the project.

Content, Hosting & Maintenance – This is a common area of confusion. Technically speaking, website design is a separate product from content creation, hosting solutions, and website maintenance. Some agencies will bundle one or more of these items into a website package. In many cases, these arrangements are made for sites that are owned by the vendor and not by you, and include an ongoing monthly fee. Make sure that any design, content, hosting or maintenance deliverables are clear and that you control and own all aspects of your site.

Summary

Your website is one of the most important aspects of your digital marketing program. In fact, 48% of people cite a website’s design as the most important factor in deciding the credibility of a business. It is essential that you make sound decisions with regard to your website and who you entrust to create and manage it.

If you have any questions or would like to start the process of creating an effective website for your business, contact us today to set up a consultation.

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