is your website working for youIs your website doing its job and bringing you more clients?  Is it easy to make changes?  If the answer is yes, then GREAT! You are one of the lucky ones.  Sadly, many entrepreneurs have put their trust and faith into a developer and paid them hundreds if not thousands of dollars to have a site that doesn’t do a lot for their business and simply doesn’t work for them. The good news is that we can help with that. The bad news is that your website may not be easily changeable.

Obviously, if you’re looking for someone to optimize your site and shine a light on your story and what makes you different, we can swoop in and give your site a good kick in the rear.  That said, it is really important to choose the right web developer in the first place so that when you hire a virtual assistant, they can make the changes without reaching for a bottle of Excedrin.

Unfortunately, many times a web developer does sloppy work because they really don’t know what they are doing and you know even less.  The developer promises to build you a site and they deliver on that promise.  They show you your shiny new site with all the bells and whistles, and you are happy to open your wallet. Fast forward a few months down the road, when you decide to make some simple changes to the home page.  Following the instructions you were given, you try to change it. Only it doesn’t work. You try again, and it doesn’t work again. You talk to your trusty AngCo virtual assistant who says they say they can fix it, but it would be more cost-effective to have your site redone.  You call your web developer, who tells you the same thing.  He can absolutely make the changes you need, but it will cost you.  (Gulp.)

Wait, what? My site is only six months old! How can I need a new one ALREADY?!

Sadly, this is a pretty common scenario and, unfortunately, we have a collection of dreadful stories.  Like the time over 200 errors were found by Google’s Webmaster Tool the day a client’s site launched and were never corrected by the developer until one of our virtual assistants caught it.  Or the other time a client dropped a boatload of money on a site he learned that he was not the owner of — after his developer skipped town.  He had to hire another developer for a new site.  Ouch.

In light of this, here’s a little cheat sheet of sorts to help you find the right web developer.

First, be sure your web guy/gal can give you references. Then contact those people and ask them how it’s going. How long have they had their site? Have they had any problems? Have they ever been hacked?  Is everything in their name? Most importantly, can they make changes without calling in the experts?

Also, be sure that the following questions are answered (in no particular order and every situation will vary):

  1. Do you build for SEO so the site can be found on search engines? (Some developers don’t have a team for that.  Just know what you are getting.)
  2. Will it have an XML sitemap? (Search engines can index site more accurately.)
  3. Will the website update itself or do I have to do that? (Updates are critical for security and keep the hackers from hacking your site.  Repeat two more times:  updates are critical for security, updates are critical for security.)
  4. Is it a WordPress site, Joomla, Ruby on the Rails? (Ruby is a popular framework, but if your developer disappears, good luck finding another one; there’s not many of them.)
  5. Is the site custom built or does it use a template?
  6. Who has permission to change site? Will I be able to make changes or do I have to marry my developer and be tied together for life to make changes? (Congrats on your nuptials!)
  7. Will there be security features installed and analytics?
  8. Where does the site back up? Are the backups automatic?
  9. Who is the site host and under whose name is it registered?
  10. Will I be able to add advertising like Google Adsense if I choose to? (Some sites built on free platforms don’t allow for advertising.)
  11. How are tech issues handled? What is your availability and the turnaround time?
  12. If I need support, what is the charge?
  13. Will my new site be mobile responsive?
  14. Is a logo and/or banner included with my site or do I need a separate designer for that?
  15. Who owns the site when it’s finished?
  16. Do you offer training on maintenance?

This is a good starting list, and like I mentioned above, your experiences will vary and you’ll likely have many more questions to ask.  It’s imperative to know everything about your new site that you possibly can, even if you think it’s “too techy” for you.  If you’re concerned that you won’t remember the answers, write them down and keep in a folder.  This will help someone to help you and your website down the road.

If you’re thinking about developing a new site or redeveloping an old one and you’re uncomfortable with the vetting process, give me a call.  We understand — you don’t know what you don’t know.  We’re happy to assist and guide you through the process.

As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time,