Having spent the last half of my 25 years in direct marketing in a Web Design Studio in Dubai. I have experienced a lot. The good, the bad and the wrong website business relationships develop and deteriorate. The advantage today versus 10 years ago is amazing. There are so many tools available and so many capable people who are able to design, program, develop and host your website or Blog that it can be difficult to determine who to call on to assist you and your business in the process.
Websites and Blogs are living and breathing extensions of you and your business. They are rarely ever complete like a printed brochure. Websites and Blogs require constant updates and refinement. You as the business owner or publisher of the Website or Blog will have to determine what your requirements are today and what they will be 2 years from now. Share your long term and short term requirements in WRITING with your partner. It is difficult to plan on what skills and tools will be required beyond 2 years for a small business. If the developer makes recommendations, take them, because you will thank them later on for their insights.
If you are going to outsource then it is important to select the right partner or vendor who can assist you. It is my recommendation that you consider hiring an end to end solutions provider who can do the design, programming, database management, e-commerce functionality as well as managing auto responders and the ability to keep abreast of the changing environment. You will want to select a partner who has completed over 100 projects in the past two years, since you will know that they have seen a fair amount of challenges along the way.
When approaching a web development or web design firm make absolute sure that you define in writing what the mission of the company is, what the goal of the project is, what the time frame for completion of the project is and most of all learn what the costs are and are going to be upfront. If you are going to have a successful project make sure that your partner is using open source code so that it is cost effective to bring in other developers with similar skills. Make sure that you sign off on milestones along the way. More importantly most web design projects are late because the customer is late with their content, photos and requirements and not the other way around.
Also, make sure you have a partner who can grow with you. There is nothing worse than starting a project and having to move it to another group in mid stream, it is very time consuming not to mention costly. There are several web design and development firms in countries other than North America that can produce web design and development projects faster and cheaper than most local firms. Take into consideration things like Site Architecture, SEO Search Engine Optimization, PPC Pay Per Click Advertising, Copywriting and Design. Yes there are places that can do all of the above. It is OK to host at a 3rd party as a matter of fact I recommend it but make sure that you and your developer come up with a hosting outfit that works for both of you.
My final recommendation is to try the web developer out with a couple of small projects before you move forward with a large strategic project. You will know very quickly what they are like to work with and them with you. It has to be a two way street for both of you to prosper. Allow extra time to the deadlines to be completed, complications do arise along the way.
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