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Questions and Considerations for Your Next Website Project

1. What content management system is right for your project?

The Content Management System is how you will make updates to your website one it’s launched. There are many different types of content management systems available, some are easier to use than others. It’s important that you understand the pros and cons to each of the top website builders that include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. These are the three CMS’s that most website agencies use. Each are open source, meaning anyone who’s a developer can create a custom website using the source code. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all have the ability to make updates without knowing how to code, but they definitely aren’t created equal. At one point, all three options had similar capabilities, but WordPress pulled ahead of the game around 2012 and started making bigger and better updates to the features and functionality offered with their CMS.

Content Management System, and Usability

All 3 websites offer the ability to change photos and text, but Joomla and Drupal’s admin panel is clunky and hard to navigate. Creating custom layouts is oftentimes not a feature offered in these two options. Even if you’re not going to be personally managing the website, if you need a custom layout, or need content published, I guarantee it’s going to take more time for your management company – and time is money!

So WordPress is the best option? Yes and no. I wish it was as clearcut as that – but since WordPress is open-source, there is a huge pool of developers out there who are creating custom themes and plugins that are used to build out a website. Not all themes or plugins are created equal. Some WordPress themes are incredibly agile and offer the user front-end editing features and the ability to create custom layouts without the need of an expensive designer or programmer. You’ll still need to have a professional set your websites up, but it’s much easier to manage and maintain for those instances where you want to alter or build onto your site down the road.

Here at Syndicate Marketing we build all of our websites with an agile WordPress theme that makes it easy to make changes. Since it’s easier to make changes, we include ongoing edits as a part of our hosting plan. Website hosting is required to keep your website up and running – think of it like a rented space online where your website files are stored and can be accessed by a browser.

2. What functionality do you need for your website?

Every website comes standard with certain features, such as contact forms, images, top navigation, social media links etc. However, if you need to sell products through your site, or want to create a forum, or require user logins, then you’ll need to consider this when seeking out a website development company.

As mentioned above, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all viable options for creating a website, but not all have as many developers who are able to make core updates and maintain the site – so if you have a custom feature developed for a Drupal site, you’ll need a niche developer – and niche developers are harder to find, and almost always more expensive. WordPress has the largest pool of developers who can maintain, host, and alter your site if needed, or if you ever want to change website development companies.

3. Track Record

Your website development company should have some sort of track record creating similar websites that meet your objectives.

  • Have they worked in your field before? If so, what are some examples of their work?
  • Have they implemented your required technology in previous projects?
  • Do they have great testimonials and a high rating online?

4. Content Requirements

Do you have a website already built out with approved written content? If not, you’ll need to ask your website company if they have a staff member who can assist. Content is the most important part of your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), without it, your new website won’t rank for keywords in search engine results.

Do you have a repository of photos you can source for the new project? If not, you’ll need to ask if photography is included with your new site build. Most website development companies have access to a stock photography library such as Shutterstock, but it’s always nice to have custom photos of your business, staff, and facility to humanize your brand and present your company as a unique entity online.

5. How much does hosting and maintenance cost?

As mentioned above “Website hosting is required to keep your website up and running – think of it like a rented space online where your website files are stored and can be accessed by a browser.” Without hosting, your website will not be available online – it’s as simple as that. There are many different types of hosting plans available, and some are quite technical – so DIY’ing is not recommended. However, hosting shouldn’t be expensive – even though a lot of agencies charge expensive fees. We get it, in the world of website development, recurring income is hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be getting ripped off.

We charge $40 a month for hosting and maintenance. All of our hosting plans come standard with robust analytics (see below), and revisions/edits requests. Those two features combined make use on of a kind. (Did I just coin a new slogan for hosting? I think so!) Pretty simple right? We like simple, we think you will too.

6. What type of reporting is offered post-launch?

Understanding the performance of your website is an important part of any marketing strategy. Most agencies will offer integration of Google Analytics, and some even offer Search Console as well. If you already have a website built, chances are it’s already integrated with this data. These are 2 platforms are powerful, and best of all, free! Unfortunately, navigating the data can be cumbersome and difficult for even the most well-seasoned marketing professional.

All of our hosting packages come standard with simplified reporting portals that are easy to understand and include keyword tracking, website traffic analytics, reputation/reviews, and your local listings performance for your Google My Business profile.

No Article Would Be Complete Without…. Shameless Self Promotion!

Need a new website? Look no further! Syndicate Marketing has you covered. We have built, launched, and maintain websites for a wide variety of industries and personalities. We pledge to always be transparent about our process and pricing, and keep you – the client front of mind when embarking on your new project. We hope you’ve found this article to be informative, and look forward to exploring the opportunity to work with you and your next website!

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Video Transcript (Unedited)

Hey guys, happy Friday. And if you’re watching this and it’s not Friday, I still hope you’re having a fantastic day. So today we’ve got a pretty cool topic for those who are looking to build a new website, as we all know, websites are a necessary component to any successful business, but most successful businesses, uh, can’t really think of an industry that wouldn’t require websites. So probably all businesses. All right. So I’ve been working in this Field for over 10 years. I’ve built hundreds or have worked with people and teams who have built hundreds of websites launched and maintain them on hosting. Uh, I’ve worked from project management side all the way to managing a department to selling websites and then owning my own business that builds websites. And let’s just say, I’m a bit of a, you know, I’ve been around the block. I don’t want to call myself a guru because I absolutely loath that term. And actually the first on this list should be, if you’re looking for a company to build your website and they call themselves a guru that you should run, let’s just, let’s be real. Uh, there’s so many BSRs in this field and it’s kind of infuriating and, uh, my rant is over. Okay, let’s move on to the content. All right. So I’m recently, recently published this blog and I’m creating a video for those who don’t want to read it, or, um, you know, would prefer to engage with the video as well. Oftentimes I’ll go through the video, uh, the blog and kind of call out a couple extra details as I go. So there’s a little bit more information here than in the blog, but all right, we’re a minute 40 and let’s do this thing. All right. Questions in consideration for your next website project. So if you are working to hire a team or maybe you’re just going to be doing it internally, you have to have, um, you need to probably be asking these questions. So number one, what content management system is right for your project? Uh, otherwise known as a CMS. Uh, there are a lot of options that are out there. All websites are built using key frameworks, like HTML, CSS, all the like script, um, can name a bunch more, that don’t make any don’t mean anything to most people. But, um, so what content management system is right for you, uh, all websites are built using those key components that I just mentioned, but the kind of management system will give you the ability to edit text, edit photos without having a no code. Now they’re not all built equally, but they’ve come a really long way, especially since when I started building websites eons ago, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. So essentially I’m going to go over the top three. So the main big boys that you’re probably Going to run into are Joomla WordPress and Drupal. There’s a lot of websites that are currently being built on these frameworks. They’re open source, meaning that any developer can use the source code to build their own ad-ons for any of these, they can build their own themes, which is essentially like a layout and with some special functionality, um, and they can build their own like features and functionality like a event add on for instance, or e-commerce for instance. So, uh, back in the day, I would say like maybe somewhere around 2012, all of these content management systems were chugging along. And one kind of came out on top that’s WordPress, uh, it’s uh, open source, as I mentioned. So you had more developers that were working with that source code in order to develop better themes, better features, better functionality, make it more accessible, more SEO friendly for the search engines. And then now in 2021, we’ve got a couple others that are out there and available, but none that give you quite as much power or features and functionality as WordPress does. So it’s still top dog who knows next year, there could be something new that comes out or maybe Squarespace or Wix could really pull forward. But for the most part, you’re going to run into agencies that develop in Joomla WordPress or Drupal. Um, now Juma and Drupal. I mean, I’m sure they’re fine, but, uh, the developers working on those, it’s kind of like a dying breed and they’re not creating nearly as much functionality as WordPress is. So you’re probably gonna run into WordPress, a company that builds websites in WordPress. Now, sorry about that. Happy to drink my water, stay hydrated people. All right. So the one thing you need to know about WordPress is that no two WordPress websites are a hundred percent of like they could be using different themes or different plugins. And this is really important because you want to consider usability in that content management system. So all those options are going to give you the ability to change out photos and texts, but some WordPress themes don’t give you the ability to create custom layouts. Meaning you have to go to a developer, a designer to get a design that’s laid out, oh, I want this module to be here. It’s going to look just like this. It’s going to respond just as so, and then you’re going to have to have a developer actually build it out, implement it in the theme of do quality control and testing and yada yada, it’s an arduous process. And it costs money. It costs money for the agency, costs time for the project manager. That’s working and time for the client as well. So that’s going to be a little bit more expensive. There is a benefit to building something that’s completely custom, but most of the time you want to use a theme that is kind of modular that you’re able to take prefab designs, change the color, the color overlay, the type of geography, the, the imagery and any icons, et cetera, et cetera, you have as much, uh, almost as much functionality with a, uh, theme like salient or divvy. Um, and there’s a few others that ELA mentor is a good one. Uh, these all have extremely powerful, uh, agile capability. So when you say, ah, I need a new landing page bill, it’s got to look nice, but I don’t have a ton of money. Can you do this? Well, then you’re able to actually go in and build like that page out without having to go through all those steps in process. All right. So that’s first and foremost. So I personally recommend WordPress. I develop all of my websites in WordPress and what’s more, uh, with my hosting package, I offer free updates up to half an hour per month, but usually for those small updates, it’s quite simple. All right. So what functionality do you need for your website? Almost all websites sites are going to come with key functionality like mobile responsiveness, a top navigation with your logo and links. It’s going to have contact forms, maybe a map. Um, but then there are some other more advanced functionality features, uh, that you definitely need to consider, uh, when building out your site and hiring anybody to build that out for you, it’s going to affect cost. And that might be e-commerce for instance, uh, that could be anything that might be a social media platform, where you need people to have user accounts so they can log in and talk to each other, like an intranet, for instance. Uh, so you want to, you know, document all the functionality that you need, and then you go into another deep dive, which I’m not getting really get into right now. Um, but yeah, you want to really consider what that advanced functionality is going to be. And for most businesses that are just building a marketing website, you don’t need that advanced functionality. You’re not building a full platform here. So, um, yeah. So all I’m gonna say about that. All right. Track record, have they worked in your field before or it’s? So what are some examples of their work? They’re going to understand what your brand voice is, they’ll understand like your brand and your target audience better so that they understand, oh, it’s call to actions to start here, or we’re we want to display imagery that resonates with your, um, you know, your each buyer persona, for instance. Uh, and then if you have advanced functionality, have they implemented your required technology in previous projects? I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been on, where they wanted something that was so advanced, and we just didn’t do it before, but we quoted it high. We got it. And then we build it out. And man, it is just, it’s exhausting for everybody involved with the amount of quality control, figuring out the logic that needs to be implemented, uh, developing the database, understanding how to cross reference that to come up with blah, blah, blah. So have they implemented your required in the past? If so, it’s probably going to be a, a win for you guys. All right. Uh, do they have great testimonials and a high rating online? Obviously This is important. It goes without saying, so check out their past work. Um, their design styles are oftentimes going to be different between agency. I know that a lot of my websites have a very consistent design. It’s modern, it’s clean, great use of white space. That’s what I like. That’s what I know that works. My clients like it. So that’s what I, I always go with, but maybe you want something that’s completely funky and out of this world, in which case you would want to find an agency that resonates with that who has funky and out of this world, uh, you know, projects that they’ve published in the past, um, content required. If you have a website already, is that content approved? If so, are you able to take that content and then just simply give it a facelift because this is really called like a Ruskin, as opposed to like a full website development or a deep dive into your brand? Uh, I specialize in Ruskin’s because they are a lot easier. You don’t have to go into a brand deep dive in order to uncover a lot of different, Um, you know, uh, A lot of different, uh, what am I trying to say? You don’t have to go into a brand deep dive as Much also. Do you need To hire a writer? Is the marketing manager, a business owner, or are you going to be providing that approved content? Otherwise you need to hire a writer. And sometimes if you have a technical industry, you’re going to need a technical writer. Otherwise what’s the point of redoing your website. If you’re going to get eyes on it and the content doesn’t resonate with your audience. So, so photos and video are you requiring photos and video to be implemented? And if so, do you have them, or do they need to be developed? Uh, photos and video are great. A lot of businesses and agencies have access to stock, um, you know, photography, um, like Shutterstock for instance, or pixel bay. Uh, yeah, you have access to those types of databases and repositories, but you know, there’s something to be said about having a custom photographer that comes in and gets custom, uh, photos for your brand. Yeah. All right. Moving on, just hosting and maintenance On a monthly basis. So there’s a lot of agencies out there that will charge a couple hundred dollars a month just to maintain the site. And that can include doing core updates here and there any type of bug fixes, uh, fixing like any type of speed issues that may arise. And I’ll be honest with you. Um, we do the same thing for $40 a month and we include, uh, the monthly, um, we, the monthly, like half an hour, a month for revisions, we also include a reporting dashboard. So, you know, you want to really lock down what does that hosting and maintenance costs. And then what’s included if you need a request, what’s that build at? And are there any that are actually included? Cause a lot of agencies will bill like at a minimum one 50 an hour. And if you make a request, their minimum is an hour. So every time you make a request, it’s 150 bucks and that really adds up all right, last But not least what type of report Is offered. Post-launch so almost every agency is going to give you act. If you already have a website, you prior to have these Google analytics and Google search console, Google analytics is going to, um, tell you where your website traffic came from, how they engage with the website. And if you have goals set up, it’s going to tell you like, uh, which channel like social media, SEO, PBC provided the most, uh, leads. So if you fill out a form that could fire a goal, and then you’re able to look at all of your different channels and campaigns to identify the performance speech, um, however, some of those can be really, oh, I’m sorry. And search console search console is essentially your visibility in search engines. So what keywords did users search for to find your website and search engines? How many clicks did you get? How many impressions did you get and what was your current ranking of that keyword? Uh, so I use this a lot to go back and re optimize pages after a website’s been published in order to boost rankings for what I know people are searching for it to land on that page. Anyway, search console is your visibility in search engines. Google analytics is the engagement and acquisition. Once they land on your website from any channel, not just search engines. So all the hosting packages that we offer come with simplified reporting portals. Those are going to include the links up with Google analytics. So you’re going to get that traffic reporting. We’re going to get reviews, which is like reputation management, uh, of your local listings performance. And then you’re also going to get keyword tracking. So this is an all-in-one monthly report and that comes standard with the hosting. So that’s a nice little add on that. We’d like to offer something you should be considering, uh, whenever you are shopping for a new website provider, all right. We’re at 14 minutes, but no article will be complete without shameless self promotion. If you Or anybody, you know, needs a website, I’d be happy to talk to you and have an exploration call. So schedule a consultation or an exploration call and let’s get the party stuff. All right, guys, I hope you enjoyed that video. I know a bit lengthy, But uh, I hope it was informative for those of you who are looking to build a new website. Thanks Again for tuning in, have a great day, take care.