Okay, so you know you need to do something about your website…

It was built between 3 to 5 years ago, looks stale and does nothing to help you gain more business. So, you call in the local web developers and in two days they give you a proposal for a refresh and the addition of some bells and whistles. Because you are a smart businessperson you get two or three more quotes. Each of the quotes comes to you in a matter of a few days. One web developer even spent about an hour with you to do what he called “discovery”.

The price ranges of the quotes are between $3,500 and $6,000. You are pretty pleased with the quote in the middle of the pack at $4,250. You go ahead and give the green light with a deposit. Mistake, You have just potentially wasted your money.

Web development, especially in terms of websites and their relationship to your business, is too important to go bargain shopping. Although, the result of the above purchase will be a facelift of your site and maybe a few cool new features the question remains, will this help me do more business?

Web professionals are just that – professionals. They will spend a considerable amount of time with you and get to know you on more levels then one before they even think about presenting a proposal. They know that there is a lot of homework to be done to understand you, your company and your hopes for results.

The process of going from an initial meeting, telephone call or email to a mutual understanding of the project, can be a matter of several hours devoted to learning as much about your company as possible. This is to be equipped to offer solutions to real and perceived problems or pain points, as they currently exist for you. If you have issued a request for proposal (RFP) and begin to get quotes without any questions or requests for meetings from the possible vendors throw them out. No one can issue a quote on cold specifications, no matter how well you think they were crafted. Established providers know that discovery is the key to design, development and deployment.

Discovery interviews should be done in more than one meeting. Research needs to be done, markets analyzed, competitors looked at, stakeholders interviewed and internal organizational processes understood. Subsequent meetings are for review of previously shared information, to verify total understanding and then trying to get to root causes of your sites problems. Two meetings may be enough but three can also be productive. As the prospective client, sharing as much information as possible will go a long way in getting you to a clear strategy and understanding of the tactics that will be needed to bring about the success you envision.

Before you embark on any web development project, you need to understand the process of the web development company you plan on hiring. Are they going to be a real partner in the effort or a mere functionary who does what you tell them to do? A real partner will require your full attention and time commitment so they can make your new web presence an adjunct to your business and not just a shiny object online.

Web development is a sales and marketing function as much as advertising, printing and direct mailing; even more so in todays technological world. Using a professional accomplished developer will give you an edge on getting it right the first time. Don’t be fooled by a quick talking sales rep offering using technological lingo and low prices. Your business has particular needs and its own uniqueness that must be incorporated in your online efforts. You should invest in a quality site that helps you do more business the same way you would invest in a new faster equipment, software or technology.