top 10 tips when buying a website

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Website choicesIf you are reading this then you must be in a bit of a dilemma about what to do to start the process of getting a new website up and running.

Here are my top ten free tips on making the process run as smoothly as possible;

1. Get the right Domain name and keep control of it

Choosing a Domain might be really easy if your business has an unusual name but if you are called John Smith & Co then it becomes more difficult because www.johnsmithandco.co.uk will probably be taken, so you might need to be more imaginative (like shortening it to www.jsandco.co.uk). My advice is start with control and always keep control of your Domain. This is the fundamental thing that a significant number of people forget, or even worse… abdicate responsibility to the web developer. I cannot count the number of people I come across who later massively regret not having the Domain control, as they have fallen out of love with their web developer and try in vain to wrestle back control through a costly court room battle or a protracted WHOIS claim.

IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE – YOU MUST REGISTER THE DOMAIN YOURSELF!!!!! (I use www.godaddy.com)

2. Website hosting

You can choose any number of hosting companies to host your website but you will need quite a bit of technical knowledge to do this properly – if you are not confident of doing it yourself then ask your developer. If you ask them, then make sure they are very clear on how much it will cost (we charge £65 per year) and clarify the date it starts from and the date it finishes (so you know when it is due for renewal).

3. Have a budget and stick to it

The first thing I always ask a potential new client is how much do you want to spend?… It’s no good expecting an all singing all dancing website, only to find you are searching down the sofa for a few sticky Euro’s from last years holiday to Crete to pay for the project!! (also you might just find your new website has been taken down if you cannot pay the bill).

4. Think about what website functionality you need now and in the future

Yes – you need to know this as far forward in the process as possible… preferably not just thinking about the now but also try to look in to the future and understand what may be around the corner. Ask yourself… do you need to sell products on-line? in this case requiring an e-commerce website. If you don’t need to

sell on-line, then is your site going to be more pictures than words? (possibly needing a slider). Does it need to link to social media (Facebook, Twitter etc..) or can you just start off with a brochure website (to validate who you are – to win those larger businesses over).

5. Have a realistic timescale

Be realistic… I would say two weeks should be easily enough for a basic ten page website. Remember that you will be expected to provide logo’s, images & text so if you are particularly busy – Do you want to have the added pressure of being badgered by a website geek?

6. Do your research

Have you seen any websites that you like the look of? (it’s always good to visually show the web developer examples of what you like and don’t like, so there is no mutual mystification).  If not, then do some research… start with your competitors – although don’t just copy what they do (you want to stand out from your competition remember).

7. Know what you are paying for

If you buy a website

package from a web developer then be very clear what that includes… remember time is money so if you keep changing your mind about the design then it will usually cost you much more than the original estimate.

8. How secure do you want your website to be

If you are worried about hackers then you might want to consider added security in certain areas, like purchasing a SSL Certificate (which validates your website with specific coding).

9. Check what legal standards are required

If your website operates with Cookies (specific software that captures viewing data) you will be obliged to have a Cookie Policy, or at the very least ensure the viewer understands, by continuing to view your site, they are aware that Cookies are used.

10. Get control of your website

Far too many websites are created without a content management system (or CMS for short) – if you don’t have a CMS website then it may well cost you £30 to £50 per change. Typically in this scenario, costs can later spiral out of control and more importantly be difficult to execute in a timely manner (as you are dictated to by the availability of your web developer). If you want to keep updating the site yourself, then you must go for a site that you can add pages, edit text and add rich media to (like pictures, video and animation) – in short ask for a CMS admin area (available on all WordPress sites).

I hope you found this blog useful… please feel free to post your experiences or some additional questions.

All the best