It’s time to build or rebuild your website and the one thing you do know is that you’re not sure where to start. 

There is so much information and so many designs and developers and it’s all a bit of a headache.

Never fear, Holly is here! This post is here to help you to untangle your website processes and help you get clear on the path that’s right for you to get your new website off the ground. 

First things first: Let’s find the right designer or developer for you to work with. 

Website developer or designer? What’s the difference? 

Strictly speaking one designs websites (designer) and the other builds them (developer) but with the terms being interchangeable, people use whichever they feel more aligned to. For example I go by ‘website designer’ but I both, design and build websites. 

Some designers only use pre-built themes and templates. 

The advantage to this is: The build time is likely to be quick and the costs, low. 

The disadvantages are: Your website will be one of a number (up to hundreds of thousands) using the same template so could lack personality. Some templates and themes aren’t well optimised so look rubbish on mobiles. 

Good questions to ask here are: 

Do you custom build websites? 

Do you use templates? 

Which software do you use? 

The answers you’re looking for: 

Yes, they custom build. As this will mean they start with a blank page and the design created is solely for your website. 

It’s up to you if you have a website created from a template but if you do, you may like to ask: 

Who chooses the design? You or the developer? 

How many templates will you get to choose from? 

Is there an annual or lifetime license for the theme or template? 

What happens if the template gets an update after the build has finished? 

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What software is used to build websites? 

There is a myriad of different software out there but the most popular are: 

WordPress 

Shopify 

SquareSpace

Wix

My recommendation is for WordPress or Shopify. SquareSpace and Wix are limited in both, their functionality and their mobile optimisation. There will be different reasons for using Shopify or WordPress but as I’m a WordPress designer who recommends it in almost all cases (it’s more cost effective, more customisable and a great product) let’s work with that. 

What you need to know about WordPress

With every WordPress website a variation of this will be the setup: 

Hosting - this is server that holds the website files and database. 

WordPress software 

Theme (template) - this is the design software

Page builder (some have these are part of the theme, some use separate ones)

Plugins - these offer additional functionality 

The most popular WordPress themes are:

Avada, Divi and Elementor. These all have their own page builders with the theme. 

Then there are other, free themes which developers will team with page builders. A popular combination is the Astra theme combined with Elementor pro page builder. 

Ultimately all WordPress skills are much of a muchness so a developer should be able to work across a multitude of themes. Asking them what their recommended combination of themes/page builders are and if they ever work with other themes will give you an idea of their experience, flexibility and skillset. 

My advice around themes developers use

I would steer clear of designers who only work in Divi and/or Elementor as these themes often use prebuilt templates, need a lot of plugins to get the functionality required and can be tricky to work with once the website has been built. They also both require annual licensing between $49 and $99 + VAT per year so the costs are ongoing. 

What's their price point?

You may not be able to get an exact price for a website build without giving a detailed breakdown of what you’re looking for but does the website designer/developer have a starting point for their website build costs? 

Here are some additional questions to factor in: 

Do they charge VAT? 

What are their payment terms?

Will you own the design or will they? 

Are there any ongoing software costs (for theme or plugins) 

Will they host your website or will you? 

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What are their processes? 

This will be the biggest factor in how you experience, and go on to feel about your website. A website designer/developer who has great processes will leave you with a good experience. One who lets the client lead on content gathering and timescales will often have clients feel the experience wasn’t that great. This is because website development isn’t the client’s job so they can often end up feeling lost, a little alone and as though the project drags on. 

When looking for a website designer who has a clear, tried and tested process good questions to ask are: 

  • What format do you like images to be in and how would you like them delivered to you? 
  • Do you have a template or any guidelines for creating website copy? 
  • How and when would you like the website copy to be delivered? 
  • When will you get to see the design of the website - will you be updated along the way or only see it when it gets to first draft? 
  • How long does it take to see a draft copy of the website? 
  • How many rounds of changes can you expect to be made? 
  • How long will it take from the first draft to the website going live? 
  • Will the website be fully optimised for mobile devices and thoroughly tested before going live? 

I always walk clients through my processes and even have a quick video explaining it.

Click here to watch the video

View their portfolio

Ask yourself - do you like the websites on there?

Have you clicked through to any of them to see how they perform in real time?

Can you see a similar style to the sites or are they all wildly different?

Does the designer include any details about the project? 

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Yes! I want to make an impact with my website!

What do people say about them? 

People who receive a good service like to say so. Ask to read their testimonials - are they available on their website? On Social Media? Do they have any previous clients who would be willing to speak to you about their experience? 

Don’t be afraid to ask if you can speak to a previous client, especially if it’s a high priced website. 

What happens during and after the website build? 

Once the website has been built will the developer continue to host it or do you? Do they build on a live site behind a maintenance screen or do they build on a development site and change it over? 

Will you have any website tuition or a manual or a walk through of how to edit and update the site? 

Whilst different designers and developers will have their own processes here are good answers to these questions: 

It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to host it or have your developer host for you. If they’re going to host, who do they host with? What can you expect the site speeds to be and do they have a hosting contract? Is there a tie-in or notice period and is there a release fee if you choose to move your website? 

If it’s a brand new website a maintenance screen whilst the build takes place is the norm. If there is an existing website in place it’s preferable to build on a development site or sub domain and transfer it over once the website has been built and fully tested. 

Each developer will handle their after care differently. I create a personalised website user manual with each website I work on and give it to the client at the end of the build. 

Click here to view a website manual

Want to generate more leads & sales from your website?

Join 100s of small business owners taking control of their online marketing with weekly website tips delivered direct to your inbox.

Yes! I want to make an impact with my website!

The main thing to remember when working with a website designer or developer is the better the relationship between you, the better the experience you’ll have. Therefore it’s totally ok to choose not to work for someone if you didn’t feel the vibe was right or something just feels a bit off. 

Similarly if there is someone you really want to work with but maybe they’re out of your budget you could ask them for a payment plan or if they have other ways you can work together (for example, using a pre-built template or booking some power hours and learning to build the website yourself with their support). 

In today’s market a website isn’t a ‘nice to have’ it’s a must if you want to go forward in your business and getting it right in the beginning will save you a lot of headaches in the future. 

If you have an upcoming website project or have a website which isn’t performing as well as you’d like it to and you’d like some support with it book a call with me using the button below and I’ll help you get on track. 

Book a Call with me