Posts Tagged ‘web development’

How to Choose a Web Developer for Your Business Website

Hiring a web developer can mean trial and error, but it should mean doing research in advance to make sure that you will be happy with your choice, that they offer enough results for the money, and that they will create something great for your business. While even the most stringent research won’t ensure that you end up with a top not developer every time, it will certainly help.

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For the most part, you’ll have to choose between independent contractors or freelancers, web development companies, and hiring a full time employee. You’ll also have to learn how to research and compare skills, qualifications, and reputation in order to ensure that your hire is a great one.

What Type of Web Developer to Choose?

If you live anywhere in the greater Seattle area then there is no shortage of web developers to choose from. With options ranging from award winning Seattle web development companies to independent contractors working on gig websites, you have a lot of options. Here, you can go over why some options will work for you and others won’t.

Freelance Developers – Freelancers are highly flexible, can be more affordable than any other option, can provide work very quickly, and are available in nearly every code and website niche. Your main problem will be finding a freelancer who can work within your budget, provide results instead of just logging hours, and who can work with the code or website type that you want. This means that you will spend a lot of time in research. You may also end up hiring multiple freelancers to meet different needs, which means keeping track of more people.

Web Development Companies – Web development companies combine flexibility with a team, which allows you to get as many services from the same company as possible. This can be advantageous to you, because you save time on searching for different talent to fill roles, benefit from a team that is experienced with working together, and have more than one person working on your site. However, costs can be slightly higher, and you’ll still have to make sure that they can provide results inside your budget.

Making a Hire – If you have a budget over $30,000 a year, think that all of your needs can be met by one person, and need continuous work, then a full time hire is right for you. This is a great option if you really need full time support and don’t want to pay for it individually each time. The secret is that you have to find someone who does fill all of your needs, or make the commitment to bringing on a team.

How to Choose the Right Web Developer

Whether you’re hiring a web development company or a one time contractor, it is important that you take the time to research your needs, their reputation, and their abilities before making a hire. A good website will take months to create depending on how much work is involved, so it’s important that you make the right choice.

Skills – Know what type of code you want, what CMS you are using, what features you need, or choose a web development company that can walk you through the options to help you pick something. You can narrow your options if you know that you want a Joomla site, which can help you to make a better choice.

Reputation – Nearly every web developer has a reputation, even if they are fresh out of college. If they don’t have a portfolio and existing work, make a few calls to their university, and learn more. While you should be choosing a more established developer for your business, you can get the point that it’s fairly easy to check up on someone’s worth ethic and reputation. Look at reviews online if they are available (A quick search of the company or freelancer will usually work), check their portfolio, and if you’re not sure, ask for references.

Timeframe and Budget – It is important that any web developer work with your time frame and budget, but it’s also important that your deadlines and intended budget are reasonable.  If you want to pay very little to have something put up very quickly, you will have to spend money fixing it later.

Hiring a great web developer requires that you have some idea of what you want or need, understand your budget, and be willing to do some research to find the best for your needs. If you’re ready to make a hire, contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web development company, for a free consultation on your business website. Or take a look at our portfolio to see some of our previous work.

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Using Web Development for Building Leads

Using Web Development for Building Leads

Web development, or the backend development of your website, is something that most people don’t think about for marketing, except for how it affects their SEO. However, web development can and does affect your marketing, simply because it affects your user experience. Because the user is the most crucial part of the sales process, great web development can be crucial for developing leads and turning those leads into customers.

For example, nearly 60% of people now occasionally research products in a store and before going to a store. If you make your website accessible online, they’re more likely to be able to quickly research things on your website. Or, for example, if you know your competitor’s offer lower pricing, you can offer a location based price matching deal, so that they will still buy from you instead of going home and ordering something on Amazon.

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Smart web development means considering your users needs, their actions, and their motivations, so that you can predict behavior to provide an experience that boosts your sales. If you’re working with a Seattle web developer, consider bringing up the following items.

Website Speed

Website speed is probably something you’ve seen a lot of times before so we’ll keep it short. Your website speed affects every factor of a visit, it affects your SEO, and it affects user satisfaction after a visit. If your pages aren’t loading within a second, and hopefully in milliseconds, you’re doing something wrong. This requires great hosting, light code, and minimalistic web media.

Multi-Device Support

Your visitors will be arriving on multiple devices, and you should be prepared. If your website doesn’t work on one browser, you lose that customer. If your website menu is too small on an Android, the visitor will probably leave. Your developer has to understand how to code your website to respond seamlessly to different devices, and to resize, restructure, and redesign based on screen size and width.

Simplicity

Simplicity ties into web speed, ease of use, user satisfaction, and Google search optimization. If a user has to click through more than two pages to find what they’re looking for, you’re doing something wrong.

Menus

Great menus are invisible but easy to find, simple, and say exactly what they lead to. They’re also not very long. The days of websites having passes to include 40 menu items are well over, if they ever actually existed. Try to stick to 4 to 6 menu items at most, and if you need more, use sub menus.

A Plan

It is crucial that you have a plan and a goal for your website. Your web development should be set up around your website goals, so that every element of the site aligns with your goals. This makes web design easier, and makes it easier for the visitor to see and find what you want them to find. Your goal could be as simple as getting users to follow the page down and sign up, or as complex as getting them to try out a live demonstration of your browser oriented software on another page, but you should understand the goal, and how to achieve it.

Great web development starts with understanding your customer’s needs so that you can create a website for them. If you choose the right Seattle web development company, they will handle this for you.

If you want to know more, or are ready to get started with your website, contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web development company for a free quote.

What to Consider for Your Home Page – Seattle Web Design Tips

As a small business owner in the Seattle area, you’re faced with several conundrums when it comes to web design and development, and your home page is one of them. While other issues, like having a solid basis on which to choose a local web designer, which language or CMS to use, and even your website branding are equally important, we’ll take you through the basics of what to do and what not to do with your home page.

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Less is More

The days of overcrowded home pages jammed with side bars, banner ads, and menus everywhere are long gone, and today’s websites are simpler, sleeker, and definitely bordering on minimalistic. This trend is ideal for mobile users, who get faster load times, and can spend less time looking for what they want. This means paring your home page down to include the basics, and hopefully paring the rest of your website down as well. You can add more items if they are necessary, but keep in mind that most users don’t need the plethora of pages available on most websites. Hamburger or hidden menus, sliding headers, and video are all great ways to integrate more items into less space without crowding.

Really, Keep it Simple

It’s tempting to keep adding features to ensure that your user can do everything you want them to do, but keep it simple. You also don’t want mobile users to be scrolling down for more than a minute or two at most on their phone. Most mobile users are in a hurry, so a heavy text or image laden home page that scrolls down for hours simply won’t do. You can integrate longer pages when necessary, but make sure you test out the length before you make the site live.

Consider Your Brand

Your brand is a crucial element to include in your web design. While it may be difficult to integrate a concept into a website, it’s important for giving users the same feel that they get when they walk into your physical location. That’s one of the reasons why it’s always a good idea to work with a local Seattle web designer. They can visit your actual store or facility to get a better idea of who you are. What’s involved with brand? Basically everything including colors, styles, the thickness of borders, images, font, and much more.

Integrate Large Images

Whether you’re using large header images, banners, or a fashionable background image is up to you, but you should integrate large media. In some cases, you can swap the image out for a video, but make sure it still looks good on mobile. You’re probably getting 40-60% of your visitors from mobile phones, so you want to design for them as well. Why large images? They combine a feeling of luxury with the minimalistic trend of modern websites, allowing you to brand, customize, and stylize your website, without making it look crowded. What’s a great image? Again, it’s up to your business and your brand. If you’re at a loss for ideas, discuss it with your web designer in your kickoff meeting.

Make it Unique (But don’t go overboard)

Even if you’re using a theme or website template, it’s important to make it your own. Adding your own media, photos, colors, and style can do a lot for your website and your brand. But, you don’t have to go overboard. It’s nice to make your website stand out, but you don’t need flashing banners to make it happen. Instead, discuss your options with your web designer, and see what comes up.

It is important to keep in mind that a good website is customized to your business, not the other way around. If a general home page doesn’t fit, make modifications, add features, and make it your own. You’ll pay more for adding in unique features or flash video, or similar, but you will get more value out of it. A great way to get started is having a discussion or kickoff meeting with a local Seattle web designer to discuss your needs and your brand.

Want to know more? Contact Rory Martin to get started today.

Types of Web Designers and Developers & How to Choose One For Your Project

Web design, web development, what’s the difference? In the mind of the average person, not much. But, in actuality, there’s a great deal of difference, and that difference greatly affects what you’re getting for your money. However, it’s not about quality. Different types of web designers and developers offer different services. Just like you wouldn’t hire a Facebook expert to manage your Twitter, you wouldn’t hire a web designer to code the back end of your site.

So, let’s go over some of the different types of web designers and developers in Seattle, and how their services affect you.

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Web Developer

There are two main types of web developers, front end coders and back end coders. A very accomplished person may do both, and a team will almost certainly handle both. Front end and back end coding are the applications that allow your website to run, like menus, the framework, server access, and so on. This code is the basis of your interface and your websites functionality. Web developers can offer features like responsive design, w3C compliant code, cross browser compatibility, tableless HTML, and so on.

Back-End Developers – Back-end developers usually handle CMS, content management, security, data management, data transfer, and so on. Back end services allow you to upload content, collect data, offer security, create user profiles, and so on.

Front-End Developers – Front-End developers typically create tools, such as menus, apps, web based apps, games, and so on. These are made for direct interaction, and allow you or consumers to use them.

Plus, web development falls into multiple code categories, with some specializing in existing CMS systems, like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, and others specializing in custom systems.

Web Designer

A web designer is a very specific type of website builder who designs the graphic part of the website. This is one reason why many web designers are actually graphic artists, with degrees in graphic design, rather than web development. Web design is a completely different function than development, because it involves creating layouts, button sizes, fonts, styles, colors, and otherwise creating the image of the website. Some web designers know code, others do not, but they do not build websites, they design them. Much like an architect designs a website and construction workers put it together.

Like developers, web designers may specialize in an existing CMS. For example, many will create custom themes and layouts for WordPress or Joomla.

How to Choose One?

Most web development projects require a web developer and a web designer, especially if you’re starting from the ground up. On the other hand, if you’re looking for new features, or a new look, you should seek out a specialist. If you want to change the appearance, a web designer is the best place to go. On the other hand, if you want to add in new menu systems and an interactive appointment app, you definitely want a front end developer.

Knowing what you want makes it easier to choose someone to help you with your website. If you need help with web development or design, contact Rory Martin for more information.

How to Plan Your New Year’s Website With Your Web Development Team

The New Year is fast approaching, and in Seattle, that often means businesses get productive by starting plans for the new year, and often, redesigning or launching their online websites. If you’re planning a new website, then you need a web development team, and hopefully a local one based right in Seattle. However, you still need plans of your own, and here’s how to get started.

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How to Get Started: Creating Ideas

If you’ve already found a local Seattle web development team to get started with, they will likely help you off with a kickoff meeting. However, you should have a list of ideas, wants, needs, and preferences when you go in. Much like if you were building an extension on your house or having a company renovate your kitchen, your web design team has to know what you want, why you want it, and what features you need. If they’re developing blind, they likely won’t even come close to what you need. A good start is finding websites that have a similar look and feel to what you want, writing down a list of features, why you need those features, a timeline (when you have to launch), color palette, business branding, and preferred style. You can use this information to get a quote, so you can find and choose a great local web developer.

For the Web Developers: Needs Assessment

At the same time, your web developers should be performing a needs assessment on your business. They will likely ask you questions, check your business, and decide what you need. This should involve demographic assessment, competitor overview, product and size assessment, and a search optimization assessment if your website is currently online and they also handle SEO.

The Kickstart Meeting

Once you both have notes, you’ll both get together (in person if you have a local Seattle team) and discuss your ideas, exchange notes, create new ideas, and look at concepts or themes. Most of the time the web developers will go over your preferred features and discuss them with you, decide which ones you really need, and point out if you missed anything. You’ll discuss style, and choose a website that works well with your user demographic, your business branding and style, and your personal preference.

Here, you will make most of the final decisions on ideas, but there are still a few more steps. Once you’ve approved the initial planning, you’ll still have to go through and approve mockups and wireframes for your site before they’re brought to life. You may also have to chose hosting, security features, and items like whether or not you want a blog or a comment system.

From there, all you have to do is wait to see your website for approval.

Why Is It important to Plan?

Taking the time to create a plan, strategize when and where you want to launch, and deciding on exact features and styles in advance can seem like a headache, but it will save you a lot of time and hassle in the future. It also makes the web developers job easier, as they won’t have to guess what you want or when you want it.

Are you planning to launch a new website or website redesign in 2016? Contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web development team, for a quote, and we’ll get you started with your planning.

Website Navigation Tips for Businesses – Seattle Web Development

Your website navigation is one of the most important aspects of your site, because it controls how people get from one place to another, and can make or break sales, creating leads, and even reading more on your site. While it can be tempting to simply cram everything into your menus so that people can find it, they often find nothing at all. If you’re working with a Seattle web developer, or planning to hire one, these following tips will help you with making the right decisions regarding your menus and other website navigation.

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Use a Recognizable Style

It may be tempting to use a unique menu or navigation system because it makes you stand out, but the important thing to remember is that people will have to learn it. When helping people through your site, especially to making a purchase, the last thing you want them to have to do is take a moment to learn. Studies and real world reactions show that people hate things they aren’t familiar with. Use existing menu systems and layouts that people already know, understand, and can use without a second thought.

Ditch Drop Down and Sub Menus

Drop down menus and sub menus may seem like a good idea because they allow you to clean up your home page, but they aren’t usually a good idea. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to see where they have to go, which means using a menu that they can see. Hamburger menus are popular, but not always a good idea because they make finding the menu difficult, especially on small screens.

Optimize Your Navigation Order

If your navigation order is completely randomized, then you are doing it wrong. You want to figure out which pages people are most likely to visit, and in what order, and organize based on priority. You don’t really want an irrelevant page on the top of the menu, because it completely throws the menu off and makes it that much harder to use. If you’re upgrading an existing website, you can usually go about upgrading your menu by prioritizing the pages that get the most traffic, or using the path that most people take through your website. If you’re building a new website, you can ask your Seattle web developers to create a natural path through the website for users to follow, and organize navigation accordingly.

Use Links Not Buttons

Links are better for menus than buttons because they’re smaller, simpler, less likely to malfunction, and are better for search optimization.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is the key to a good menu. Don’t make it hard to find the right things, don’t add too many items, and certainly don’t have more than 10 items. Sub-menus may seem like a good idea but they are most often messy, difficult to use, and can fail completely on mobile devices.
Good navigation makes for a good user experience, which boosts your SEO, your website’s usability, and your conversion. Discuss it with your local Seattle web development team during site development, and make sure that it’s easy to use before you launch.

Planning Your Small Business Website For Your Budget – Seattle Web Development Tips

In an ideal world, everyone could get the exact website they wanted, and even a small business website could have custom coding, a unique content management system, built in functions and features including a webshop, contact, or menus, but the truth is, not everyone can afford it. Most Seattle small businesses have a tight budget, which means choosing your features and functions wisely, cutting corners where necessary, and planning for the best results. This does require planning, and a careful discussion with the Seattle web developer you choose, but it does mean that you can get a fully functional website within, or close to, your budget.

Cool quote posted by my friend Erin Shafkind

 

Seattle Web DesignDecide What You Need

Sitting down to discuss your website needs, wants, and options, and then narrowing them down can help you with keeping costs to a minimum. An easy example is deciding if you need menus, a webshop, or etc., and then discussing the pros and cons of each. If you have a webshop, you won’t necessarily make sales off of it, so it might be a better fit to add to your website later. Planning your features and deciding which you need now and which you can add on later can save you money, but it’s also important to ensure that you’re only getting the features you absolutely need.

Consider Existing Designs

If you want to save money, then considering a pre-built website theme with custom design and custom layout could be the way to go. In fact, this is the best option for many small businesses, because it can cut hundreds of hours of developer work off of your bill. While a custom design will still give your website the best chance of standing out, it’s not 100% necessary, especially if you’re aiming at a small local audience of people who live in the Seattle, or your suburb, area. For example, if you choose to go with a Joomla website, you can save a lot of time developing a custom backend to your site, and still get a completely unique design.

Plan For the Longest Launch Time Possible

One consideration is that if you need rushed work, you will usually be charged for it. Ask your developer what a reasonable time to launch is, and then go with that rather than trying to get your website up by a specific time. This also ensures that developers have the time they need to do everything correctly, so that your website is as functional as possible.

Combine Extra Services

Some Seattle web development companies have services for promoting your website, integrating your digital marketing or social media, and so on. These might seem like added expenses, but chances are, if you’re launching on the web,, you need them. Consider comparing costs with hiring someone separately to see how much you will save, and then plan those costs into your budget. After all, your website won’t make a return on profit if you aren’t marketing it properly.

Hiring a Seattle web development team to build your website can be challenging, but don’t go into it without asking questions. Ask for quotes, get information, and make sure you know everything before you make the hire to ensure that you know what you’re getting into. You can start by requesting more information from us here.

How Important Is User Testing? Seattle Web Development

If you’re hiring a Seattle web development team to build your website, then you should be considering user testing. If you’re only planning on having a one or two page website for your marketing, then it isn’t as important, otherwise user testing can affect your website and it’s impact in a variety of ways. If you have a good web development team, they should actually ask you about it and include it in the fee, and the following reasons include why.

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UX – UX is the buzzword in development and design right now and for good reason. User experience is incredibly important, if the customer isn’t happy, you don’t make sales, or at least not as many sales. Getting user testing allows you to ensure that the website is fully functional, easy to use, and that it makes sense to the customer before you put it in front of actual customers.

Bug Check – Developers can check for bugs all day, but nothing is quite as good at finding issues like a fresh pair of eyes. This is the same reason that many game developers now host open betas. Not only do end users have an easier time finding bugs because they aren’t familiar with the website, they’re also using it like a customer would, which is something that you most likely won’t be able to do.

User Based Recommendations – You might think your website is perfect, your developer might think it is perfect, but without the end user thinking it is perfect, it isn’t. User testing ensures that the website makes sense, works, and looks good to people who will actually be working with it, so it is important if you want it to be user friendly. This applies to design, graphics, written content, and development decisions like menus. It also helps you with getting out of the box of your own creativity to see how it looks from someone else’s point of view.

Comprehension Check – Many website users might not have the same education, life views, or language level as the people creating your website. Having normal people use your website to test it out ensures that the website makes sense, on a design and development level, as well as a language and graphic level. Ensuring that they fully understand the website is very important because comprehension does affect your sales

User testing can be a hassle, especially if you have a large and complicated website, but the more you expect people to be on your website, the more important it is. If you have a store, you should have 4-6 or more people testing your website. If you have a very large store, you should aim for more. If it’s a smaller website, such as a restaurant page, you can usually get away with a smaller test group.

If you want to know more about how user testing works at local Seattle web development companies, contact Rory Martin for more information, or for a consultation.

Five Tips for Choosing a Local Seattle Web Developer

Finding a quality web developer is notoriously difficult on the web, especially with thousands of overseas companies who operate under dubious credentials and often offer themes or pre-built websites under the pretense of a custom site. Going local is the easiest way to ensure the originality of your site, but it also allows you to find a company that understands your local customer demographic, local website trends, and that you can meet in person to determine their actual suitability for the job. Whether you’re looking to hire a one-off Seattle web development team to build your website, or need a long-term web specialist for maintenance, updates, and constant development, you can use these tips for choosing a good local Seattle web developer or team.

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Understand the Market

The first rule of hiring a web developer anywhere, not just in Seattle, is that you have to understand the market, fair pricing, and what you can expect for the money. If you’re accustomed to choosing outsource and offshore companies with engineers and developers primarily in India and Pakistan, then you’re going to be able to afford considerably less if you go local. However, you also have to know normal pricing for a website of your size and standard, so that you can get a fair quote, without feeling that it is over the top or too cheap. Your best bet is to set a budget in advance and then figure out what you can get for that budget before you go ‘shopping’ for a developer.

Decide on Skills and Requirements Up Front

You wouldn’t hire a Japanese sushi chef if you wanted a French Crémeux, and the same goes for web development. While some developers are experts in everything, that’s rare and usually quite far fetched. Instead, look for a developer who has the skillset you need (I.E. JavaScript, PhP, and HTML) and make sure they can work with it before you hire them. There is no one size fits all developer, unless you’re happy with whatever they can build you.

Look for a Past History

While it may sound unfair to only hire experienced developers, you wouldn’t hire an inexperienced person for most other jobs, so don’t risk it with your website. Choosing someone with verifiable experience, standards, and hopefully references you can use to verify claims and ensure that the developer hits deadlines and offers quality websites is an easy way to cut out a lot of hassle.

Check their Portfolio

Finally, you want to know that you like their work and that they are capable of building you a website that you love. Checking your prospective web developer’s portfolio is the easiest way to make sure that they will offer you the website you want.

 

Want to know more about how a local Seattle website designer can help you? Contact Rory Martin to see if we’re a good fit for your needs.

Does Your Small Business Need a Website? – Seattle Web Design Tips

The first servers powering the web may not have been switched on until 1991, but in that time, it has expanded at a rate so exponential that it’s expansion could be said to be unprecedented. The technology, which was initially created to allow access to data from anywhere, has become such a common part of everyday life, that most of those born in the 90s quite simply cannot imagine a world without it. With over 640 million active websites on the web, it’s hard to imagine that there are businesses who don’t have one. However, with 27.9 small businesses in the U.S. and over 217,000 in Washington alone, there are literally millions of businesses that have not yet made it onto the web.

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While it is an undeniable fact that a web presence can greatly benefit a business of any size, and the dot com is undeniably the gold standard for establishing your brand on the web, there are other options.

The Size Of Your Business

One important consideration is that many businesses are actually very small businesses. Very small business owners often bring home between $20,000 and $120,000 per year in gross profit depending on their business. Small businesses, which can make upwards of $1 million per year, can typically afford a website without any problems, but for very small businesses who use most of their income for living expenses, renovations and small personal luxuries, the often high costs of a website are not always an option.

Social Pages vs. Web Pages

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Social pages are quickly replacing websites as the first place that customers visit. While anyone searching for a keyword or business type on Google, Bing, or Yahoo will most definitely find your website first, they can also reach your Google Plus page if it is properly optimized, your YouTube page, or even your Facebook page, depending on how you write your About description. Because services like Google Local allows you to put yourself on the map (literally) in search, web pages are becoming less and less necessary for simply telling people about your business. In fact, a busy social page with visible reviews, visible consumer interaction and fresh posts will leave the average consumer more convinced of the quality of your small business than most websites.

What You’re Selling

The last and most deciding factor for choosing whether to go with a website or a social page is your business. Depending on what you are selling, what you want to use the website for and what information you want to display, a website may or may not be right for you. For example, if you have a restaurant and you want an interactive menu, online booking and live chat, then you definitely need a website. If you have an auto-shop and you just want to let people know where you are and when you’re open, it’s significantly less necessary.

While statistically, more than 140,000 websites are launched per day, the truth is that with social media, the days of one page websites and web pages are virtually over. Not everyone needs a website when they can establish a web presence just as effectively, and without the hassle, using social media. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website, it just means you might not actually need one.

If you want to know more, contact Rory Martin for a consultation.

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