News Segment

This episode is a special one with guest Gino Whitaker! We’re going to talk about web development, and what small businesses should be watching for.

But first, let’s round up the news! This week saw Facebook get more specific about just how it intends to rate and show comments, and which comments are likely to make it to the top. It’s looking at signals related to integrity, useful information, interaction, and more. Take a look to learn more.

Facebook is also unveiled information about “Libra” or its new cryptocurrency. If this seems like an odd time to release a cryptocurrency, it is – but Libra has a group of founders that are intent to encourage its use across Facebook apps and wallets. You may also be able to cash out Libra for exchange points at grocery stores and other locations. Read about it here.

Finally, Google has at last confirmed that pages can rank for image alt text, something that was long suspected but is now known for certain. Google even point out that basic SEO tests will easily prove this, but sometimes hearing from the horse’s mouth is important.

Now to the main story: Our team had an excellent talk with Gino Whitaker, owner of Pixeler Interactive Group, and our partner for web development projects. We’re talking about questions that businesses may want to ask web developers…even if they don’t realize it! Here are a few of the big questions we came up with.

Do I Really Need a Website Developer, or Can I Do It Myself?

If you have a significant amount of business that relies on your website, or people who make purchase decisions by visiting your website, then yes, you probably need more advanced web development.

Of course, there are also many different types of websites you can build!  For WordPress – one of the most popular choices – there are two primary options: Self-hosting with WP tools and hosted with WordPress.com. Self-hosting allows you to freely download WordPress software and build a site the way you want it – but you also have to purchase your own hosting service and domain. It’s not really a helpful choice unless you have experience in web publishing and know just what you want, but with the right experience it allows for customization as well

The other WordPress option is to go through WordPress.com itself, which provides the hosting and allows you to use a basic WordPress subdomain. This is a much easier option, but it primarily suitable for smaller sites (it’s particularly popular for blogs, for example). It’s also limited in what you can do and how you can upgrade over time.

Just in case you were curious, WordPress is the common choice because it’s so immensely popular, and has amassed a great number of tools that businesses can use to structure and analyze their websites, even scaling up toward complex sites where you sell a number of goods. WordPress templates, once you understand them, also allow you to quickly build sites. However, the immense flexibility that WordPress also means that it benefits more from professional development, rather than jumping in all along.

Okay, So Are Your Designs Templates?

No usually! While we do use WordPress frequently, we tend to use tools and frameworks that allow for more in-depth customization.

What Do You Think About Plugins?

They are important. WordPress plugins allow for advanced functionality, and are necessary when adding any complex features to site, so they get used all the time. The key is knowing which to use, and when to switch them out. There’s a huge number of plugins available, and not all are properly maintained or secure to use, so keeping track of the best options is important…and another reason to use a professional web developer.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Website?

This can, of course, vary! The best answer can only happen after asking a series of important questions. A very simple site can go up in a couple weeks. An ecommerce site with a robust blog could take up to a year. A basic business site without any roadblocks takes around one to three months to go live. The best way to get a timeline is to know what kind of website you want, and sit down with a professional to talk about your website development goals.

Should I Update My Current Website, or Build a New One From Scratch?

This happens a lot when businesses are ready to upgrade from a very casual site (oh, my friend built this for us years ago, etc.). The best answer here is almost always building one from scratch. When a website is out of date in a situation like this, it’s usually faster and cheaper to build a brand new website with the latest formatting and tools. We can happily make it similar in theme to the old website, but it’s still smart to start from the ground up. Frequently, we find that many older site formats have lost important content support (think Flash vs. HTML5) and need a new approach anyway.

Will My Business Get Any Training or Support?

We offer a couple different solutions for this. A basic maintenance contract, for example, comes with a monthly fee, and we regularly come in and make sure everything is still working, still compatible, and still up to date. More in-depth support may be necessary depending on the site. For training, we always try to at least video chat with the employees to walk them through how the site works, how it works, and the basic day-to-day maintenance that needs to be done (recording for later internal training if necessary).

Are there any questions you like to ask during web development? Any that you really wished you had asked? Let us know on social media @21handshake! If you enjoyed this episode, remember to rate and review us, and share with someone who is thinking about a web development project for their business!