How to buy a new website


Chantal

You need a new website. You’ve asked a web developer to pitch for the job but you don’t speak fluent ‘tech’. How do you know what to ask for? Here are some questions you can ask, to help you get what you need.

Who owns the finished code? If the developer owns the code, you’re fixed to them. It can be more expensive to own the final code, but it gives you more flexibility if things go wrong – you could move the work to a different developer if you really need to.

Is the site mobile-ready? If you need it to be, make sure at the outset that your website will be compatible with mobile devices – that it’s accessible from Smartphones and iPads if that’s how your visitors want to view it. Recent statistics show that by 2012, mobile internet users will exceed desktop users globally so this is something you do need to consider.

Does the fee include support? Is the fee just for building the website build, or does it include development support and if so, how much? Having your developer on a retainer means they’ll be more likely to make any changes that you request as part of that, rather than trying to charge you extra for their time.

Will the website be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)? You are legally bound to make sure your website is accessible to disabled people. This includes making all functionality available from a keyboard (rather than relying on a mouse) and ensuring you do not design content in a way that is known to cause seizures.

Which browser will the website work best on? Sites don’t look the same in different browsers, so it’s important that yours gets built with your customers in mind. Built correctly, your site should work on most browsers. Internet Explorer is currently the most used browser (57%), followed by Firefox (23%). This varies by country, so look into it before you start.

Will the site depend on technologies such as Java or Flash? Your developer’s answer should be “no”. If the site’s usability is dependent on a specific technology, some people won’t be able to see and use it.  If the site is built on a Flash platform, make sure your developer also codes it for HTML compliance; the same goes for Java. While Flash can make your site look cool, it’s not good for usability or SEO.

How will the site be hosted? If the developer offers to host the site as part of a package deal, find out specifics: how often will the site be backed up? How resilient will the servers be to failure?  Most hosting packages guarantee a 99.9% uptime and backups should be daily if you have regularly changing data on your site.

When you’re talking to developers about your new website, ask them these questions. They will help you make sure you find someone who can provide you with exactly what you need, for now and for the future.

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