Choosing a website developer can be tricky. It’s not like choosing a plumber to fix a leak, or an attorney to help you out with an issue. There are not a lot of people you can ask for a reference, so normally, one would go online and choose from the look and feel of the developer’s website, or get a reference from an agency like Thumbtack. How do you know if this developer is going to do the right thing by you? Most of us are not technical enough to know if they did a good job or a bad job, until a problem springs up.
Questions to ask a potential web developer
We put together this list of questions you should ask your web developer. If they hesitate answering any of these questions, you should move on. This is a BASIC list of low expectations you should have for someone who will build your front face to the world.
Pricing from different website developers may range quite a bit. When you go out to bid, there are many factors to consider when choosing a website developer. One developer may charge you on a project basis and another on time and materials.
At TechCare, we charge for time spent working on the website. Years ago, we used to charge by the project, but we found that when there is a charge for the project, one party makes out and one gets raked over the coals. Charging for time used is fair for both the developer and the client. It makes it easy for a client to add on new functionality to the website when the project is in full swing.
It also makes it easier for the client to keep costs down by following a few simple rules:
Number one this is the most important rule of all: BE ORGANIZED!
The most time I have wasted on website is on photos and disorganized clients. Getting information peacemeal is very difficult to deal with. I’ll give you some examples. One time I had a client that sent over a dropbox folder with 879 images that were all over 4K in size, many that were taken all in a row so the people in the photos were moving just slightly for 6 photos, and the client wanted us to download all photos (not a quick download – do the math!), then look through each photo and choose the 5 for the slider on the home page. The client, who knew the photos intimately, could have chosen 10 and sent those ones to us for final choosing. On another project, a client needed to send us a photo and then 5 key pieces of information for each product. The images were sent haphazardly, not named the product name, the downloadables were named weird names, and everything came separately over time as the client has the information. Trying to figure out what image, downloadable, description, table, chart, etc went to which product took hours and hours. We had to organize everything ourselves. So the answer is, be organized. Name your images the name of the item. Send only what you need to send. Send groups of information together instead of all separately. This will save you a lot of time. Now, many of my clients and I use dropbox and we organize items into folders which are named clearly and concisely.
Enter your own products into your website
Do you have a woocommerce store? Most likely you will want to maintain the site after it is live by adding and removing products on your own. Have the website developer add in a few products and categories so you have a good template to work off of. Then ask them to show you how to add new products. You will have to do this on you own later on, right? So learn how to do this now. Practice while you have a teacher nearby! Also, you know your products better than your web developer, so can probably do this faster then he/she can do this! This is secretarial work after the structure is set up, and you don’t need to pay for secretarial work. This can save you a lot of time and be very beneficial to you in the long run.
Move along and don’t let the project languish
Most projects move along, or have the intention of moving along, but sometimes clients get going and then get busy with their own business. Then 9 months go by. If you are a client and call back the web developer, they have to get back up to speed on your site. Your software is outdated, things you chose may seem less important and other things more important. Everyone forgets where they were. This is important for your business. Make it a priority. This first big push won’t last forever. Just pull all nighters and do what you need to do – get it done.
Go with the flow
If you get caught up in small details that don’t really matter to the overall goal of a fantastic website, you will most certainly increase the price. Being overly concerned with a section text that is centered vs. left justified, or how exactly the page lays out on desktop without thinking of how it will change in mobile, will slow the project down and cause the developer to spend time working on things that most likely only you are worried about. Get the project done, and then if there are a few items at the end that really bother, you, ask for changes.
Trust your website developer
You hired your website developer because you believe they know what they are doing. Now, follow their suggestions. Most likely they know what is in “style” and what will make your site appear old. They should know how to structure the menu so that you will provide the best user experience to your visitors. The web developer will give you tasks to do that will help your site succeed. They have a vested interest in creating a phenomenal website just as you do! Follow their lead!
Pay your developer quickly and in full
If your developer receives your payments immediately and in full, they will continue to provide you excellent service and will complete your tasks quickly and efficiently. If you get behind on your payments, your website developer knows this. If they have a choice to work on one website or another, they will work on the clients who pay – happily. Besides, it is only right and honest to pay for work that has been completed per your request.
Being nice goes a really, really long way. I have learned a lot of things from my clients, and there are a few in particular who are always complimentary and just a joy to deal with. David Cingari, Paul Blanchard, Mike Shirley, and Jeff Kimball are a few people I have worked with and shown me a better way to work with vendors. When there are a few little items along the way, you might just not need to pay for those items because of your great attitude. I would rather charge less and work with a great client, than charge more and work with someone who it not nice.
Don’t change the entire menu structure mid way through or towards the end
OK, this is a biggie. Almost needs to be moved up to number two. This can DOUBLE the cost of your website – yes, double. This has happened a few times over the years – we plan out a great menu structure which is wonderful for SEO, we begin building all the pages, adding content, and then a month or two into this, the client changes their mind because it is too much work, they feel it is overkill, or someone gets their ear and they completely change the menu structure. This can be an absolute mess on the back end, wastes time, and the entire vision for the website is thrown out the window. Just work really hard to come up with a great site map in the beginning, understand what it means, and stick to it.
Have a clear vision of the end goal from the beginning.
Understand that each time you would like to ask for more functionality, you are asking for more development time. More development time means more outlay of cash. This can easily happen on an ecommerce website. Once you start building you may think – “Oh, I’d like to offer a coupon only for people who purchase item x and that gives them a pop up offer in their cart when they check out” or “I’d like to offer a store locator and import all of my current locations into the software and then change the display of how it outputs” or “We would like to offer product manuals on each page that go with each product and have a way to automatically add them to each product”. These are real live changes we have made on websites mid way through. Some of these items added on during the project can cost a lot more because the menu structure needs to be changed, other items need to be linked, development needs to be done, etc. Try to lay everything out in the beginning so you don’t have “scope creep”.
When you are building a website, you make changes after changes to most of your pages and keep clicking UPDATE. Do you know that each time you click UPDATE you are saving a NEW copy of your page? These are called Revisions. Wordpress has a neat feature that allows you to go back to a revision if you mess something up. Yes, I have used this feature before!
You can find this feature at the top of the screen under Screen Options when you are editing a page. Just put a check in the box next to “Revisions” and now if you scroll to the bottom of the edit screen on a page, you will see a box for “Revisions” and you have the option to restore a revision.
Well, these revisions can build up and take up space in your installation! There is an easy way to remove those revisions, while you are also performing maintenance on your mySQL databases! You can do this manually, but there is a nice easy plugin you can use called “Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions” by CAGE Web Design that will do both of these things for you. Optimizing the database and reducing the number of revisions should speed up your wordpress website.
Either ask your web developer to do this for you or you can do it on your own. Install the plugin from the WordPress Repository and activate the plugin. Under Settings, you will find a link for “Optimize Database” – go there. I like to keep the last few revisions as I am basically a hoarder, but if you like to live more on the edge and have a higher risk tolerance, you can choose 0 revisions! Here are the options I choose (and no checks on the tables so ALL are reduced):
After I ran this on techcarellc.com for the first time, look at my results:
Wow! So run this optimizer every once in a while, depending on how active you are on your website. Do you write a lot of posts? Have you had your website up for a long time? Just run it every now and then and see what savings you have – and see how much faster your website runs!!!
Once your WordPress website is built and live, you have a few options: you can consider the project of building your website “complete” and “all set” and just let it sit there supposedly doing it’s job on it’s own, or you can view your website a living, marketing arm of your business and keep it up to date! If you would like to have your website up and running, preventing hacking as much as possible, then you should choose to keep the website up to date.
What does it mean to keep my website up to date?
There are two areas to keep up to date on your WordPress website:
Many of my customers have different length titles of their products. When Woocommerce displays all of the products on a category page, the Add to Cart button or the Select Options button appears under the title of the product, which makes the buttons appear on different lines and can look messy to the eye. I have been asked to align the Add to Cart button so that they all appear on the same row. I looked around and tried some snippets of code and I could not find one, so I came up with this and it worked nicely!
You will go from this:
Put this line of css in your style.css sheet in your child theme (you DO have a child theme, don’t you??) save, and then refresh your site. You can fool around with the bottom value and the min-height, depending on how large your font for your h3 titles are.
TechCare has created many Woocommerce stores for clients around the United States, and we recently launched a site we thought we should highlight so you could see some of the functional and interesting things you can do with Woocommerce and WordPress.
The store Sweetie Pie Collection was a brand new e-commerce venture for the Flower Girl and Communion Dress wholesaler. Sweetie Pie did have a website, but there was no ability to purchase items on the former site.
Features of the new Woocommerce WordPress website
Wholesaler Website: Prices not shown unless logged in
If you visit Sweetie Pie Collections as a normal visitor on the web, not logged in, you will be able to browse the collection of dresses. You will be able to read about each dress, zoom in on each dress to see detail on edges, lace, etc, and see the SKU number. You will just not be able to see Read more →
Setting up your online store can be an exciting adventure! If you have chosen woocommerce as your shopping cart, TechCare can help you put the whole thing together. There are many decisions to be made, and questions we will have for you. In order to expedite the knowledge transfer from you the client to us the developers, we have put together this survey that will give us a lot of information so we can build your site correctly!
This survey is going to ask you to make some decisions you have not made yet. For example, we are going to ask you how you plan on charging for shipping: by the dollar amount, free shipping, by the weight, dimensions? You may have not thought of how you will Read more →
This summer I have run into two instances where we were building a site and as we added more and more items to a beautiful mega menu, the items were dropping off! Entire chunks of the menu were disappearing or getting deleted. The primary menu box would not stay checked, so your menu locations were constantly being put back to the default.
If you are adding a lot of pages to your WordPress menu and they are getting deleted or disappearing, this is what you need to do: Read more →
If you love Canvas like I do, you use it all the time and set up and configure your own child theme for Canvas. Here is a blank child theme for Canvas that you can use. Here is how you use this: Read more →
Choosing your fonts is one of the most important decisions you can make when building your website.
Your fonts determine the look and feel of the site, and give an impression of your company right away to the visitor. Do not underestimate how important your fonts are.
Years ago we could only use a few fonts that were present on everyone’s computer by default. If you used a special font that only apple brand computers had on their computer by default, like helvetica for example, then all the windows computers who had the default font set would display a SUBSTITUTE font on their screen. This substitution could be one that you programmed in as a second or third font to pull, or could be a font that the compute chose itself. In both cases, the latter being the worse of the two, you as a website owner have lost control over how your website appears on their screen. It may look a mess, and then this is how that visitor would judge your business.
Then in May of 2010 Google Fonts came out!! This changed the web developer’s world DRAMATICALLY! I remember feeling like “a kid in a candy store”. It was so so so exciting! Google fonts are published/stored on the Internet and how it works is that when a computer visits a website that calls for a Google font, their computer runs over to google and downloads the font real quick and displays the characters on the screen with the new font.
When you are building your website, you should Read more →