10 important questions answered
I was prompted to write this page having seen the questions listed by Savvy Marketers in their March
2011 newsletter. They wrote
Having met many business owners over the years who have dabbled in creating or promoting a website themselves, or outsourced to a third party, we still believe there is a lot of uncertainty in what to do / what not to do and some people have been given very misleading information.
We feel very strongly about this at Savvy Marketers and more recently have found that some people we have met or who are clients of ours have been given a less than satisfactory service by their provider. We understand that most small businesses are not web experts, but specialize in what they’re good at.
and ended with
Therefore there’s a certain amount of trust that their provider is going to provide a decent service, or at least explain in non-techie terms what the contract they have signed up to involves.
While one of our slogans at Bobbing Wide is
We do the techno-babble so you don't have to.
when it comes to tellling you what we're going to do for you we often have to use quite a bit of techno-babble. We believe that using the proper terms can be less ambiguous.. well for us at least.
So here are the questions you need to ask and the answers that we will give.
1. What does the price for your service include and more importantly, what does it not include?
2. How much do you charge for any extras or extra work I may need now or in the future?
3. How quickly can I expect to see results? If your provider promises top rankings on Google in a short time, or even guarantees rankings, then be very wary!
4. Will you provide me with regular reports or contact me about how my site is progressing? Will you respond to my questions in a timely manner?
5. Will you offer me information freely about how I can improve my site or any tips & suggestions you may have?
6. How do you bill your clients?
7. Do you have case studies or testimonials from other clients and can I contact them?
8. Will you find out about my business, my goals, challenges and target market so that you can provide me with the best solution to fit my situation?
9. Do you offer any service guarantees? See number 3 above if search rankings are guaranteed!
10. Where will my site be hosted? Can I move it if I ever need to?
Will you register any domain names in my own name? (this is very important if you’re using a web developer and asking them to buy domain names on your behalf).
It’s very important that many of these questions are answered and you're satisfied with the answers given, not only so you know what kind of service to expect, but to make sure that your provider really understands your business so they can provide you with the best possible service.
It’s also important that you and your provider are on the same wavelength to avoid any problems that may arise once the contracted work starts. Make sure you really know what you’re paying for. For example, does the new website include any optimization on the site? Some developers include this and some don’t. If it does, make sure you’re involved in the process so they target the right keywords. You should also receive regular feedback on traffic to your site, and how it’s performing in the search engines. They should tell you how you can access your website’s visitor stats too. Most importantly, whoever you use, they should be proactive in helping you make your website the best it can be, and if you don’t hear from them for a couple of months but are still paying them, find out exactly what they’re doing! We hope this helps you get the best possible service for your website, and if you have any feedback or this raises more questions for you, please get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our prices are published in the Shop.
If you are buying a new Wonder of WordPress website or are upgrading or migrating from an existing website to a WoW site then the price includes all the work that we agree to be in scope.
Once the website has been delivered and accepted then we will not charge you unless you ask for something additional or if you request us to fix a problem that was outwith our control.
The prices for ongoing support are listed in the Services section of the catalog. Prices are quoted per hour.
Prices for other types of website (Bronze through to Unobtanium level) are also published. These are guideline starting figures. Once a price is agreed we will not increase it; unless there is a significant change to the requirements.
If your project is going to extend to many weeks of work then we will need to negotiate the price based on the size, complexity and level of understanding of the work to be performed.
For certain pieces of work we will identify exclusions, identifying work tasks that are out of scope. These include; certain levels of testing, training of additional staff, PCI compliance testing, accessibility testing, internationalization. doing anyhing illegal or unethical.
Where the price includes FREE hosting for a year, the date starts from when the site goes 'Live'.
Prices for maintenance and support are listed in the product catalog for Support. The prices quoted are hourly rates. Hours spent are rounded down to the nearest hour. So if we can deal with your request in under an hour you get the work FREE of CHARGE.
If you have a Wonder of WordPress site then you will be expected to perform your own backups and upgrades when prompted. But if we are doing work and happen to notice that upgrades are needed then we will perform these for you.
If you have a Drupal 6 website then you will probably not be able to maintain the modules yourself. So we will provide this support as part of the hosting.
That depends on what we're doing?
A simple one page Wonder of WordPress website can be 'up and running' in a very short time indeed.
But the creation of the site basics is only part of the work. There is a lof of behind the scenes work that needs to be done properly before the search engines understand what your site is about. Then there's getting the links from other sites, to help improve your page rank.
And if you're blogging, then you have to create the content.
Some work - such as simple configuration of plugin or module parameters can be done very quickly. Other stuff, such as advanced theming or complicated definition of Newsletters, Google Ads or simlar can take longer.
And then there's testing and the inevitable problem determination. Remember, that we are dependent on the rest of the Open Source community for developing quality solutions which we engineer to satisfy your needs.
We need to know the status of the project as much as you do. I've found that one way of keeping you up to speed with what's going on is to communicate via the web site, or in the case of a migration via the replacement site. In WordPress this can simply be done via priivate blog posts, that only users with administration level can see.
For a more complex site, developed using Drupal, we can even implement a TODO list, with links to the work that needs to be done.
At the end of the day this meta content can also act as documentation of the system. OR it can just be trashed.
Good communication is bi-directional.
We will respond to your questions in a timely manner and hopefully you will respond to ours. There will be certain things that only you can do. e.g. Set up a PayPal account with your bank details. Decide on pricing and discounts. Writing Terms and Conditions. Even making decisions on font size and widget placement.
OH YES. The Bobbing Wide websites are packed with information about the WordPress plugins, Drupal modules and the Artisteer theme generator that we use. Some of it may be a bit techno-babbly, but we won't
charge you for common knowledge.
With a career in IT that spans 5 decades I've seen all sorts of ways of doing things. Some methods are good and some are bad. In the 90's a lot of websites were developed using HTML tables. This has now gone out of fashion. We are now using semantic techniques and XHTML to define content and CSS to provide styling. The end result to the human reader may look exactly the same, but a well structured website is much better for the search engines to understand.
Bobbing Wide have defined 3 different groups of website quality tests and the possible results. If you look like you're doing something that's going to cause the site to fail a test then we'll let you know.
In order to assist with the development of an easy to maintain site we have also developed our own WordPress plugin and Drupal module called oik. Using this plugin can significantly reduce the amount of work you need to do to present Often Included Key information.
We will also need to show you how to use your site in order to maintain it yourself. Some of it is pretty obvious... and you can find video tutorials and read the online help. But there will be times when we combine plugins in an interesting manner, making it a little harder to understand what needs to be for something to happen.
For a Wonder of WordPress project you have two payment options: easy payment of 4 times £50 or a one time fee of
For larger work we will require an up front fee of up to £200, then 50% payment half way through the project and payment of the remaining money on project completion... when the work satisfies your completion critieria.
Normally, sometime during the project we will create an official order through this website. This will produce the formal invoice. Informally we will keep you informed of part payments received and the amount owing. Final payment of our invoices are expected within a month of being issued.
If you want to keep track of the total hours spent then we will be able to report this. Over 30 years at IBM now means I studiously record ALL time spent doing anything.
With regards to non-payment.
If you don't pay we will simply turn off the site if we're hosting it. It it's hosted on your hosting companies machines we will disable it and/or require you to remove all the work that we have done. We don't want to get to that position now do we?
The Portfolio lists projects that we have done, describing the work performed, the level of site developed and other info. Clicking on the url: link will take you to the real site... where you will find a Contact form enabling you to write to the site owners. Often you will find their phone numbers and/or email addresses. If you don't want to do that yourself, we can put you in touch.
Clients can add testimonials to this site. You may see random testimonials dispayed in the sidebar.
In the future we will also be publishing recommendations on LinkedIn
If you're looking for other examples of our work then take a look at the very similar Portfolio on the Bobbing Wide web development (.com) blog. Here we will attempt to explain each site's structure and what its specific Points of Compelling Relevance are. Have you heard this term before... PCR is the new TLA for USP.
If you can't find examples of what you want then please let us know. I'll be only too happy to investigate a solution for you.
Try stopping me!
What you do in your business is far more interesting than what I used to do at IBM. If you are truly dying to know how distribution use of system billing for electricity companies actually works, then I can tell you. But I think you are more interested in making sure that I understand what you want on your website, who it's aimed at and therefore how it should look and feel.
Of course I'll never know as much about your business as you do so you'll have to be gentle with me. Conversely, you'll never know, and may not even care, about all the techno-babble. But somewhere we'll find a happy medium and both of us will benefit from the experience.
Ah, this is the question I don't really understand.
We can't guarantee to get you to the top of Google.
We can't guarantee that your site will be up 99.9% of the time
And we even can't guarantee you'll get more hits on the site.
Why not? Well the Google one's pretty obvious... unless you're the only manufacturer of 'find-a-ball-tees' in 'Hampshire' and you're targetting those two keywords.
And we can't guarantee the site availability, since we don't have control over the hosting company.
And whether or not you get more hits depends on your content and who knows about your site.
We can however ensure that we use the right tools and techniques to improve the chances of visitors finding your site. And between us we'll work on making sure you get repeat visits.
If you have already bought the domain and hosting, AND the level of hosting is capable of supporting the software (PHP 5.x and MySQL) and you have enough disk space and bandwidth, then your website will be hosted on your hosting companies servers. We will have to use their systems to administer the site.
If you have not bought any hosting then Bobbing Wide will provide it FREE for the first year. We will provide enough disk space for your site and set the bandwidth to the level you need. Normally the site will be hosted within our "reseller hosting" system. Our reseller system is currently provided by web designer hosting and the servers are based in Washington, DC. We are in the process of migrating the sites to UK-based servers (in Birmingham); switching to a package supported by tentahost.co.uk.
Note: Web designer hosting and Tentahost are both part of the 5quidHost brand - so named because you could get web site hosting for £5 a year. In fact, you can even get FREE hosting... but this is not suitable for WordPress since there is no enough disk space.
Can I move my hosting?
Moving a website from one host to another is not particularly difficult but there are some considerations worth pointing out. Normally your hosting package includes email accounts. If you switch hosts for your web server then you either have to learn to live with the email service of the new provider OR you have to retain the emai service of your original provider. The second alternative can lead to extra (unnecessary) cost.
The webmail service provided by tentahost is not the world's best but it does support the attachment of email client programs (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird) so that you can manage your emails on your PC. You can also set up your Blackberry, iPhone or Android to access your emails.
Although not recommended it is possible to forward all emails sent to your server to another system such as GoogleMail.
Will you register any domain names in my name?
If we register the domain we will normally register it for ourselves then transfer the domain to you when you have paid for the development. If you want to register the domain yourself then you can do so. We are in the process of switching to domain monster since their renewal prices are cheaper and they do not charge for domain transfers.
Here are answers to other questions posed by the Savvy Marketers.
Does the new website include any optimization on the site?
Have the right keywords been targeted?
Can I get feedback on the site traffic?
How is it performing in search engines?
How do I access visitor stats?
Are you a pro-active developer?
Do you know what you're paying me for?