I had become extremely frustrated by not being able to find a web developer that I felt comfortable with, then finally I got a great referral.
When I first met with my web developer Warran Bolton, OwlTree Web Solutions, I really appreciated him starting by asking me a series of questions, to which I was able to answer very precisely.
He went on to say that I was only the second client that had done all the research correctly. However, when he asked about functionality and content I was able to show him what I needed subject to his expert opinion. If fact I had created a wireframe using the' tables function' of MS Word.
At the second meeting, Warran and his graphics designer David presented their design ideas which matched exactly my requirements. He said that my scope of work only required minor adjustments and the fact that I had done the research and produce my own wireframe on one file, he also said it would save me a whole bunch of money.
Remember you alone never have the copyright or patent to a good idea. I asked several people I know who are commercially astute to critique my content before publication. They came up with a few ideas that were better than mine.
Team Owltree then created the design mock ups which I could view on-line which only required minor adjustments, then they continued to build my new website, which I tested before going live.
1. Needs analysis meeting.
2. Create a proposal.
3. Planning and design meeting.
4. Design mockups for approval.
Many clients and indeed Warran Bolton have both asked me to write an article on how I produced the detailed scope of work for my new website, so here it is.
I have spoken with many of my clients and other business acquaintances. All have said that generating content for their websites was difficult. A frighteningly high percentage said that they delegate this to their web developer, I have a challenge with this mindset because the person who should best understand a business should be the owner(s) or director(s) and it should be them that make the first attempt to generate text content. Knowing that the first attempt to write any document is the hardest, the person who starts MUST NOT get offended if someone else makes suggestions for changes.
I will attempt to keep this article as non-technical as possible and use plain English without jargon or acronyms.
Getting a website right is NOT easy but there is a simple step by step process, however, what I do know is that if you miss any steps out, your chances of failure will significantly increase.
In my view, there is no such thing as getting a professional website done cheaply (less than £1,000 even for a small website). Do not be programmed by others, cheap websites almost always look like it was created by Joe Blow the ragman, who did in his garden shed. Also, it is impossible to set a budget without gaining an overview of the pricing structures that different web developers use and compare the results.
I asked myself 'what are the motivations for wanting a website' My list included the following:
This was tricky, I couldn't come up with the right domain name and certainly one that was available. So I asked for help from a good friend who was commercially astute, and he came up with the right one within minutes. I was clearly too close to the challenge.
My domain name isn't perfect I would have preferred a derivative of HBP (some else has the .co.uk domain). A point of advice with is to make sure your domain name is as short as possible and easy to explain verbally so that others can enter your domain name into a search engine whilst speaking with them on the telephone.
If you already have a domain name that is delivering acceptable results keep it, even if does not satisfy the above. You may negatively affect your search engine rankings.
My requirements where simple:
The above appears to be only a shortlist, putting this into action can only be done by experts such as Owltree Web Solutions.
There is absolutely no point having a website if it can't be found. SEO is a process like any other in that it must be best practice driven. My definition or best practice: a structured process to make sure things happen the right way, on each and every occasion.
What I have found out that there are more people that talk nonsense about SEO than know what they are talking about and most charge a king's ransom and deliver nothing. That said there are some SEO experts who like all experts charge accordingly for their services. An example is Neil Patel. He and his team are clearly very talented, but I find his videos difficult to follow.
Researching keywords is hard work and takes a lot of time. If you don't do this yourself you only have the option to PAY SOMEONE ELSE to do it for you. We did it ourselves.
There are many online tools to help you, it drove us nuts trying to find one that we really liked WITHOUT SPENDING A FORTUNE. One thing we can say is unless you have a mega corporate website don't spend a lot of money on keyword research tools, try https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ it's not perfect but its works and it's free. Another great free resource is https://keywordseverywhere.com.
We also learnt this:
Beware of others advising you to use Wordpress based platforms. I spent a significant amount of time speaking with other web developers and I found out that everybody has their own preference. When I research these different preferences almost all required addition plugins, some were free and some weren't. I already knew from previous experience that these plug-ins have to be updated regularly and I also knew that some updates suddenly conflicted with other plugins and cause a website to crash. I have experienced such events and never want this to happen again.
In my view, Open Source Software is the best way forward because if you choose the right Open Source Software platform, they do not require plugs and you have the ability or know someone who has the ability you can insert your own code to enable customised functions or applications without the use of plugins. (we now use ProcessWire).
When meeting with web developers I never divulged information unless they asked the right questions. Almost all had a flawed client qualification process because they started to sell me stuff without first fully understand my operational and financial constraints. All they ended up doing is confirming to me that they were not the right company to use.
This exercise was also useful to gain knowledge to plan the budget. (pricing varied dramatically (£1,200 £10,000 both plus VAT).
I did background research with all the developers (without them knowing) I met with before any meeting.
I had already decided that if they did not ask all the relevant questions to 100% qualify my operational and financial constraints, I would NOT do business.
Before I attend any meeting I always set myself realistic targets of what I want to accomplish from the meeting. In this case,
Prior to the meeting with OwlTree, I had already decided that if all of my operational and financial constraints were met, I would agree to proceed and close the deal.
Having helped many of my clients construct their websites, I knew that unless I gave my web developer hard copy of my suggestions, they would have to gain a profound understanding of my business in order to generate content. This is where many companies go wrong because somebody has to write the content, I the principals of the business or company don't do it, they will have to pay someone to do it for them.
There are no short cuts and one must be reminded that the person who drafts the content first has the hardest job and they should not be discouraged by a savage critique by others.
I gave my web developer a 'Wireframe' which I created using the tables function in Microsoft Word. My web developer could see my suggestion for
Our website is central to all our marketing activities and must, therefore, it must be available at any time any day. We know that many of our clients have had endless problems with their website hosting provider so we started by asking for referrals from companies that we knew had high-end corporate websites.
Zen Internet where miles above their competition. To find out why click here.
Experience had taught us that planning your website takes a long time and it shouldn't be rushed. We also knew that we must create a visual proof of concept rather than just talking about what we wanted or just providing text content. One thing is for sure, any visual you create will always look different when viewed on-screen as a website.
Warran really excelled because we were able to view drafts before going live and we had to make adjustments.
In our view, this is one of the most important factors to consider when building a professional, company website. OwlTree Web Solutions did an outstanding job with this and we only needed 10 minutes of training in order to get to grips with it. We can make changes very easily and in seconds. We can even create our own pages, with graphics in next to no time.
A robust CMS is mission critical and WILL save you a fortune because if you expect someone else to create the content for you and get a business website done for less than £1,000 THINK AGAIN, it is just not possible for that price. If you have a well engineered CMS you can create content, make adjustments yourself. We make our own changes to our website almost every day.
This depends on what you want. How many times have we heard people say that their website is outdated ... all the time we have this said to us. Our Library has new content uploaded all the time. We can even change the 'look' if needed. We started with 15 pages, we know have over 50.
Sometimes we discover new functionality requirements. Because Warran totally understands our business model he has made updates fast and he is not expensive. The trick is to communicate clearly. He then points and clicks, he does the trick real quick.
Don't expect a professional website being done for little money. If you put the effort in yourself, you will save a lot of money.
If you find yourself needing to speak with someone who is totally independent,
about your next web project,
you are more than welcome to call me anytime.