When you meet with your website design and development company there are certain questions that you need to ask that many people forget. If they are able to answer these questions properly, then chances you are in good hands.
A good first question to ask is, is your website optimized for search engines? Public facing websites will be indexed by search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN and it is extremely important that your website is found once crawled. You should also use every opportunity to increase the frequency of your website being found and used. Optimized websites are sites that use lightweight cascading style sheet designs and proper Meta keywords and also do not use images in place of headings or text. There many techniques you can employ to help your pages reach high rankings in search engines and the small things can help a lot.
You also need to check that they follow best practices when building websites and programming web applications. Best practices are guidelines on how a task should be approached and executed. For example there are best practices for optimizing a website for search engines, instruction for developing HTML and code portions of a website. Best practices are there to achieve several things. They give an industry standard model that everyone can follow, they encourage production of consistent results, discipline when working with a certain subject matter and they deter poor practices in coding and development.
You should definitely find out from your web design and development company whether the software is being built specifically for your online application or whether you are getting ‘off the shelf’ programmed. Many companies are sold software under the impression that it has been made especially for their website. Some unscrupulous development firms will take off-the-shelf packaged software from another company and customize it before building your website. Make sure you ask this question upfront so you know what you are paying for.
An extremely key aspect and one that is often overlooked is marketing. Getting your website indexed in Google is one thing but there are many, many other ways that you can maximize your website earnings, popularity and visitors. You can make sure that your website’s address is on important documents like letter heads and business cards. You could sponsor community events, have your website address on your company car and could also have free give-away and promotions. If you want to go further then things like paid advertising, banner ads and pay-per-click advertising are proven to get targeted traffic to your site.
You also need to know it your website is going to need ongoing maintenance. The answer to this is usually yes as chances are you will want to change contact details or content. You may even want a complete redesign and to add lots of pages and more content and perform optimizations to achieve better search results.