Website clinic: Get the website you want

A well-designed site will reap rewards, so it’s important to choose an agency that will work with you to design and build a site which works for your business.

Jean Atkinson EdenBy Jean Atkinson, founder, Marketing Minds Academy.

By asking a few simple questions you can quickly create a shortlist of potential suppliers.

Costs vary enormously, so the first question you need to ask is the starting price for their websites. This saves time for both parties and you can do this quickly over the phone or via their website.

Identifying the Content Management System (CMS) is extremely important. Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal are open source and have a wealth of support and development behind them. Be mindful if you go with an agency’s bespoke CMS as you may find it difficult to take your website with you if you decide to change agencies.

Check the website will be designed as a ‘responsive’ site. This is where a site will adapt its layout according to the device being used, such as tablets, mobiles and laptops. You should only need a separate mobile site if you have a specific functionality your visitors require quick access to, maybe bookings, reservations, information services or e-commerce.

If you need additional functionality such as login facility, e-commerce or in-built calculators, ask the agency if they can provide off-the-shelf plugins before going down the route of paying for development. This is where using a CMS such as Wordpress is beneficial as there are thousands of plugins available.

If you are going to maintain the site in-house make sure the agency provides you with access to the ‘meta titles’ and ‘meta descriptions’ for each page as these are important elements for search. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask if they use website templates. There’s nothing wrong with templates, but you don’t want to be paying bespoke prices for them.