Do You Need a Custom Website? 7 Crucial Questions To Ask Your Web Designer
If you’re looking for a custom website for your business, as opposed to a standardised template site,
you will probably need to work with a web design and development partner. A new website is a
crucial digital asset investment and the costs can be high, so here are seven crucial questions to ask
a prospective partner to determine the best web design strategy for your business.
1) How much experience do you have in marketing?
Business websites are sales tools. Despite this, many web developers approach web design purely
from a design perspective, without extensive research into the structure and function of your
business, how your industry works, and the needs of your customers.
It isn’t necessary for a programmer or web designer to be a seasoned marketing practitioner.
However, it is important to work with a web development company that understands what your
ideal customers are looking for in a website, and how the design and layout of the site sits within a
broader digital marketing framework.
Every new website needs a starting point around which to pivot the design. This should be a
thorough needs assessment of your business’s users, your target market, and your customer
requirements. Following this should be a design concept that fits your required parameters and is
calibrated for lead generation.
2) Will you reuse any elements from my current website?
If you’re considering investing in a new custom website, there are probably elements of your current
site you are dissatisfied with. However, for most businesses there are also positive elements which
may be worth retaining – this may be your written content, certain videos or images, fonts, brand
colours, and so on.
A good web development team will ask you if there are any aspects of your old site you would like to
retain and may conduct a performance analysis on the site to determine what is already working
well and what can be improved. This analysis will guide the team's design and layout decisions. Be
wary of a company that immediately suggests starting from scratch with a brand-new design. They
may be using template-based layouts that won’t necessarily fit with the needs of your business or
3) What is your web design process?
All established web developers will have a standard process or operating procedure – which will
normally be documented – and will use certain design protocols, codes, and software platforms to
build their websites. Ask about these. A good company will talk you through any questions you may
have and will have literature to share with you about any of the technical aspects you wish to be
involved with – while still having the competence and expertise to take the lead in project
4) How long will it take to complete my website?
Alongside transparency about the process should be a candid discussion of the timeframes involved,
with project milestones for each step involved. A custom website is a multilevel project with various
considerations, including the design itself, written content, graphics, and back-office programming,
so it’s important that the developer’s timeframe is both realistic and fits in with your needs. Make sure they include sufficient time for testing and troubleshooting, and verify their level of implementation support before you sign into a contract.
5) Can you deliver my required outcomes within my budget?
There’s no getting away from the cost involved in a custom website. A large website is an expensive
digital asset, so it’s important to set out expectations from the beginning to determine whether the
developer can deliver your essential functions within your project budget. If your budget is limited,
divide your expectations/outcomes into ‘required features’, ‘desirable features’, and ‘optional
features’, then take this to the table when discussing budget with prospective development
partners. It’s worth getting 3 to 5 quotes and comparing how many features can be accommodated
within your budget from each supplier.
6) Do you offer content creation or additional services?
Some web development companies provide websites as an ‘empty shell’, with holder compartments
for you to populate with your own written and visual content. This means you will need to write
your web content yourself and produce your images and videos, or subcontract to another business
to do this on your behalf. Other companies have an in-house writing team of trusted suppliers to do
this for you. Discuss what services are included in your contract and what works best for your
business – and budget: the more services the company offers, the more your project will cost.
The order in which content is created is important, too. Shoehorning web content into a pre-formed
design can involve compromising on the style and appearance of your writing – a big risk,
considering that your web content is essential to your ability to make conversions and sales through
your website. A better strategy is to write or commission your web content first, and then for the
developer to build the design and structure around it, in a process of content-driven design.
A good developer will be happy to make recommendations about content, for instance if you need
new written web content, or if you should hire a professional photographer for new website
7) What do you need from me to build my website?
Establish shared expectations from the start so that you know what the developer needs from you
to build your website. For instance, if you’ve agreed to write your own content or source this
yourself, or provide a business logo, establish mutually agreed timeframes for delivery. The
developer may also ask to see your buyer persona documents as part of their research process. In
general, the more information you can provide them about what you want to achieve through your
website, and about your industry and ideal customers, the better targeted they will be able to make
You should expect a detailed onboarding process and a series of meetings throughout the process to
discuss progress and ensure that project milestones and expectations remain on track. Be prepared
to put time aside for this, and to seek input from your senior team and other website users to
ensure that each element of the website functions as expected and delivers on expectations.
Find out more
The JDR Group offer a custom web design service alongside a full suite of digital marketing services,
including content writing, search engine optimisation, PPC management, and social media
marketing. Please call 01332 343281 today for an initial discussion of your requirements.
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